Program said to be first of its kind

For people living with HIV, exercising regularly is a critical component in remaining healthy.  No one advocates this more than Peter Jackson, personal trainer and owner of Push Fitness in Oakland Park, who has drawn on his experience to develop a program for positive men of all fitness levels to get fit in a fun, small group environment.

“Strength and cardio training are so very important for HIV positive individuals,” said Jackson, a certified fitness expert with 15 years’ experience who has trained scores of positive men over the years.

“The major headline confirmed by one study after another is that regular exercise stabilizes or reverses declines in CD4 cell counts. This is a big deal,” said Jackson, “because these are cells responsible for identifying and attacking infection as well as cancerous cells.”

He continued that strength training has also been shown to minimize the long-term side effects of many medications including elevated blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides and blood sugars. “And not least of all,” said Jackson, “exercise increases energy levels as well as muscle mass and strength and goes a long way to improving mood and self-confidence. This is a benefit we also need -- regardless of our status!”

The “+Fit” program developed by Jackson comprises strength, cardio and flexibility training in a small group limited to six men.  The hour-long workout is broken into three 20-minute segments, where Jackson and one of his trainers provide hands-on instruction and make each session a fun, synergistic group experience.

“Our first group, a bunch of guys from Positive Attitudes, is having a blast with their twice-weekly sessions,” he said. “After just a few sessions they have already noticed improved stamina and strength,” he said. “It’s amazing how quickly the body responds to the stimulus of exercise.”

There are a number of precautions that need to be observed when training HIV+ individuals, warned Jackson. “Because fatigue is typically common with this condition, the trainer must insist on hydration throughout the workout and be acutely aware of the signs of exhaustion and overtraining.  We recommend a gradual increase in intensity over the course of training and 45 to 60 second rest periods between sets.

“Most importantly,” said Jackson “the client’s body fat percentage must be monitored carefully. While building lean muscle is one of the goals, we advocate maintaining a percentage of body fat higher than we would for someone whose immune system has not been compromised as wasting is always a concern with this disease and something we must guard against.”

Furthermore, Jackson will be presenting a joint seminar, along with nutritionist Rigoberto Ng of Care Resource, at the Push Fitness.

For more information on the +Fit Program or the seminar, please contact Push Fitness at 954-530-4304.