Lori Glaza, of Royal Oak, executes a  pole fitness pose called a “superman.”

Lori Glaza, of Royal Oak, executes a pole fitness pose called a “superman.”

Photo provided by Lori Glaza

Readers share their workouts that work

From surgeries to self-esteem issues, the right fitness routine can bring more than just physical health

By: Mary Beth Almond | C&G Newspapers | Published March 10, 2020

 John Blakowski, of Washington Township, gets ready to leave the hospital after knee replacement in October 2018.

John Blakowski, of Washington Township, gets ready to leave the hospital after knee replacement in October 2018.

Photo provided by John Blakowski

METRO DETROIT — At the age of 71, John Blakowski is arguably in the best shape of his life. He shows no signs of slowing down, especially during retirement.

The Washington Township resident has battled through double hand surgery, along with hip and knee replacements, but he remains extremely active thanks to a personalized workout routine that he said keeps him strong, limber and full of energy.

For the past three years, Blakowski has begun his day by practicing qi gong — a mind-body-spirit practice that integrates coordinated body postures and movements, breathing, and meditation to improve mental and physical health.

“It’s a great way to get your morning started and warm up before more strenuous exercises,” he said. “It clears your head, gets you breathing right, and stretches old bones and muscles.”

After his 20 minutes of qi gong, followed by a healthy breakfast, Blakowski continues to stay active by practicing a self-tailored yoga routine, weightlifting exercises and/or aerobic exercise, depending on the day. A typical week looks like this:

• On Mondays, he heads to his gym to practice 45 minutes of yoga, followed by an hour and a half of aerobic exercise on machines at the gym.

• On Tuesdays and/or Thursdays, he hops aboard his bicycle to hit the Macomb Orchard Trail, walks for 2 miles along the trail or uses a stationary bike in inclement weather.

• On Wednesdays and Fridays, he completes a full-body workout — including planks, situps and weightlifting — at his gym, followed by some time on the exercise machines.

• On Saturdays and Sundays, he avoids the gym crowds while keeping active by working out at home or outside.

As far as diet goes, Blakowski has decreased his salt intake, tries to limit red meat in his meals and drinks plenty of water.

“I like all kinds of food and I’m not going to give up anything, so I just control my portions,” he said.

Blakowski recently celebrated his 71st birthday, and thanks to his unique fitness routine, he said people always guess that he’s much younger.

“I’m 71 now, and my goal is (to live) to 106,” he said. “And I am going to make it.”

Lori Glaza, of Royal Oak, said she struggled with her weight her entire life.

“I was an obese child and I got tired of being bullied at school, so I made some unhealthy life choices and I ended up getting an eating disorder for the better part of 17 years. During that time, I did try a lot of different exercises and workout routines to try to keep my body looking good, but it wasn’t necessarily healthy,” she said.

After getting on the other side of her eating disorder, Glaza decided to give pole and aerial fitness a try, hoping to gain some self-confidence about her body.

“It unlocked so much self-confidence,” she said. “It’s really been, in my opinion, a form of physical therapy.”

Over five years later, pole and aerial arts have remained a fun, challenging and healthy way for Glaza to stay in shape.

“I get such a wonderful feeling of satisfaction knowing that I am doing something good for my body. And it can also be a little mentally challenging to learn different movements and different techniques that are a little bit more choreographed for dance. It’s a challenge for the body and mind that’s just so much fun to have,” she said.

She said pole fitness is a workout that offers gains in mobility, flexibility and strength.

“When I started, I didn’t know how to do it and I was definitely intimidated by what I thought it was,” she said. “All it took was one class for me to realize how simple it is to walk around a pole. If you can walk around a pole, you can try other movements, and if you can try other movements, then you can move beyond that. It’s really about telling yourself that you can.”

Today, Glaza teaches at PoleFIT Revolution in Madison Heights, performs on the PoleFIT Revolution Performance Team and competes in various pole fitness competitions across the U.S.

She said pole fitness classes blend strength training and physical therapy influences to promote proper body alignment and safety.

“The pole is just an apparatus. You can walk around it in a sensual way, or you can use it in a sensible way. There is no wrong way to actually utilize it.”

Glaza hopes to empower women struggling with self-acceptance to see themselves in a more positive light.

“For me, it has actually opened doors to understanding myself, and I think that is what makes you really attractive,” she said.