Client Spotlight: Meet Gene

Gene performing a yoga Crow Pose.

Written by: Intern Callie Parry and Gene Purdum

Maria has a vast group of past and current clients. They range in age, location and life experiences. To give you a better sense of the people Maria is helping through her business and expertise, we will be doing regular client spotlights.

To start, we would like you all to meet Gene age 66 years young.

Gene was born in the Maryland countryside and attended Michigan Tech receiving a Bachelor’s degree in applied physics and a Master’s in nuclear physics. While in college, he put his classical music background and radio experience to use by working for NPR’s music department. Upon graduating, Gene moved over to Michigan State University and worked as Music Director/Operations Manager/Classical Announcer for NPR radio for 38 years until retiring in 2013.

Gene has lived a full life. He loves cycling, running, and hiking and has completed several amazing feats such as solo bike rides and endurance road races. Other hobbies of his include stamp collecting, ham radio and taking care of his immense garden.

Gene is an ambitious soul and although he has completed a lot of the things on his bucket list he is still hoping to hike the Grand Canyon again from rim-to-base-to-rim, travel to India to study with yoga gurus, finish all the remodeling on his home, ride a 300-mile 24-hr bike race and bike from Fairbanks, Alaska to the Arctic Circle.

Gene does not ever want to be slowed down so when he developed a severe case of sciatica in 2013 and had to undergo back surgery he knew he needed help. He went through physical therapy post-surgery and began working with a personal trainer. However, he did not connect well with his trainer and wanted a second opinion. That is how he came across Maria Faires. He was drawn to her because of her extensive experience in exercise and nutrition, her background in Medical Exercise as well as her experience working with older clients.

Gene has always been dedicated to living a healthy life, so he was not seeking help in weight loss or major lifestyle changes. He began working with Maria remotely via email and phone. He sent her the workouts he had received from his former personal trainer and Maria altered them to be better for strength preservation, rehabilitation and avoidance of injury. That is something that few people are better at than Maria – she is always up to date on the best exercises to avoid injury and provides post-rehabilitation exercise programs or for the healthy individual, designs effective programs that will help prevent injury in the future. She does not follow fitness trends just because something looks cool and hard, but is more concerned with protecting the body and building strength and endurance in a safe way.

Maria gave Gene three basic workouts that he could alter to avoid boredom. Since they worked remotely they began by calling weekly and then gradually tapered off to only calling every three months. They have built a great relationship where Gene feels comfortable asking whatever questions to help him with his health, nutrition and fitness needs.

A big thing that sets Gene apart from Maria’s other clients is his work as a yoga instructor. Gene has always been one who wants to expand his knowledge and delve in to unknown territory. That is how he came across yoga. Gene discovered yoga later in life after his back surgery. He was taking a Gentle Yoga class at his gym and realized they were doing the same thing every class. One day he thought to himself, “I can teach this,” and so he did. He got his 200-hr teacher certification and immediately began teaching his own version of Gentle Yoga at his local high school’s adult education program. Currently he teaches that class four times a week and has an average of 10 students per class. The average age of his students is 70. Since his 200-hr training, he completed Bryan Kest’s Power Yoga teacher training. He does not know if he will ever teach it because Power yoga is a vigorous and challenging style that is not suitable for seniors, but he has incorporated Bryan’s philosophy in to his classes. This philosophy takes the perspective that yoga is more of a mental practice than a physical workout. Gene also has become certified as a Chair Yoga instructor, but has yet to find employment in that area, let alone time to teach it.

Maria also supports Gene in his passion for yoga and is always offering advice for how he can best reach his senior students. Gene appreciates Maria’s genuine concern for him. She always is reminding him to eat more quinoa and whole grain, for example, and advising him on what yoga poses he should or should not be doing for safety for himself and his older students.

Gene encourages everyone to seek Maria’s help no matter their current health status. She is very well qualified to guide you in whatever direction you desire to go. If you need to lose weight, Maria can review your diet and recommend safe substitutions. If you need a review of your present weight-training routine, Maria can help tie them into your overall goals. Maria can give you the Big Picture about how to obtain wellness, unlike other “fitness” people who are more narrowly focused.

If, after reading Gene’s story, you would like to get additional details on his journey and experience working with Maria, you may contact him at


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Prevention of Injuries in the Tennis Player

A more powerful serve, a mightier backhand, a stronger return, better grip strength and superior jumping ability… Sound good? Weight training can help you move to the next level and a professionally designed strength, flexibility and cardio program can go a long way in helping you have a stronger game but also prevent an unnecessary injury.  

It is best to have a Certified Corrective Exercise Specialist or Medical Exercise Specialist give you an individualized workout prescription depending on your level of conditioning and particular needs.

Tennis is a physiologically demanding sport that requires power, speed, balance, agility, coordination, flexibility, and cardiovascular endurance. Thus, increasing tennis-specific fitness components beyond typical tennis practice gains is the goal of the weight-training program. Both upper and lower body power are essential components of tennis.

Tennis uses the shoulders, chest, back, and arms. Tennis also requires plenty of leg power for the explosive, stop-and-go action of the game as well as trunk strength for quick twists and turns. Unfortunately all this movement can result in injury.

A consideration for tennis players is the prevention of injury.

Commonly injured joints are:

o       the knee (from the unnatural side-to-side movements), so performing leg exercises for all four planes of motion working the quadriceps, hamstrings and abductor and adductor muscles will help to stabilize the knee joint.

o       the lower back (from the twist and turns and the force of hitting the ball), so be sure to incorporate low back and torso strengthening and stabilizing exercises and an exercise that rotates the torso.

 o       the rotator cuff and shoulder. Rotator cuff exercises are needed to improve both the strength and endurance of these important muscles.

 o       The elbow. Tennis elbow is another common injury because the elbow joint absorbs so much impact as the ball makes contact with the racquet. To prevent tennis elbow, stretch and strengthen your arm muscles so that they are flexible and strong enough for your activities.

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Swing Into Shape For Tennis: Flexibility Training For Great Reach


Tennis players lose plenty of points when their reach falls short. The solution? Flexibility exercises increase your range of motion on the court, helping you get to that ball from some, shall we say, unnatural body positions without hurting yourself.

For Safe Stretching:

  • Always warm up your muscles before stretching with 5 to 10 minutes of light activity.
  • Never bounce while stretching. Hold each stretch for 30 seconds.
  • When holding stretches, always support your limbs at the joint and be sure to keep the muscles that you are stretching relaxed.
  • Perform each stretch 2 or 3 times.
  • Vary your stretches to include all major muscle groups (back, legs, chest, shoulders and arms).

Tennis, like any sport with a lot of overhead movement, is a recipe for shoulder pain. Pay extra attention to stretching this all-important joint. Your shoulder’s front is often weaker than its back, so avoid stretches that pull your arm behind your body – they’re simply too much strain. Spend more time stretching the back of your shoulder.

Here are some good stretches for your shoulders and other key muscle groups you use in tennis.

Posterior Shoulders – While standing, extend your right arm across your chest so that it is straight and parallel to the floor. Keep your shoulders down, not hunched. Placing your left hand on your right elbow, gently push your right arm toward your chest until you feel a good stretch across the top of your right shoulder and upper arm. Hold for 30 seconds. Switch sides.

Overhead Stretches – Stand straight, arms overhead and crossed at the wrists, palms together. Stretch your arms up as high as you comfortably can and very slightly back. Press your hands together firmly. You should feel this stretch in your ribs, upper back, and interior shoulder. Hold for 30 seconds.

Upper Back and Rotator Cuff – Raise your arms in front of you to shoulder height. Intertwine your fingers, turn your palms outward (away from your body). Stretch your hands away from your body until you feel the stretch under and across your shoulder blades. Take a deep breath then let your chin fall to your chest as you exhale. You should feel the stretch in your upper back. Hold for 30 seconds, breathing normally.

Latissimus Dorsi, or “Lats” – With your right side next to the fence surrounding the court, reach above your head with your left hand and grab the fence. Place your feet as close to the base of the fence as possible and keep them together. Let your torso gradually lean to the left. You should feel the stretch from under your left arm to your waist. Hold 30 seconds. Switch sides.

Calves – Take three steps away from a wall. Turn around and face the wall. Stand straight, with your toes, hips, and shoulders all facing the wall. Step your right leg toward the wall, bending your right knee and keeping your left leg straight. Extend arms out. Reach your palms out to the wall and let your body lean into it, keeping your arms straight. Keep your toes forward, your heels down and your left leg straight behind your body. You should feel the stretch in the left calf. Hold for 30 seconds. Switch sides.

Quadriceps – Stand straight with toes, hips, and shoulders all facing forward. Brace against a wall, tree, or pole for balance. Bend your left knee to raise your left foot behind you as if you were trying to kick your bottom with your heel. Grab your left ankle with your left hand. Stand straight; do not lean forward at the hips. Keep the knees next to each other. If you cannot reach your ankle while standing, wrap a towel around your ankle and hold the top of the towel. You should feel this stretch in your left thigh. Hold for 30 seconds. Switch sides.

Hamstrings (reclining) – Lie flat on your back and raise your left leg straight above you at 90 degrees, keeping your right knee bent and your right foot flat on the floor. Hold your left leg with your hands behind the knee for support. Pull your leg toward your head to feel a stretch along the back of your thigh. Hold for 30 seconds. Switch sides.


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