FUNdamentals in FUNctional FITness
by Nikki Carrion, MA
FitXpress LLC
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Co-Owner; FitXpress
Nikki Carrion is co-owner of Fit Xpress
Consulting Services in Waterloo, IA.  
She has over 25 years of experience
in the field of health promotion and
says her passion for her work comes
from her desire to practice preventive
health and promote positive lifestyle
changes.  Although she works with a
wide variety of ages, from college
students to older adults, she says her
focus is on empowering older adults
to higher levels of functional fitness.   

Nikki has a graduate degree in
Community Health Education with an
emphasis in Gerontology from the
University of Northern Iowa.  She also
has a number of certifications
including balance training, chronic
disease self- management, exercise
for hip & knee replacements, group
exercise instruction, personal
training, yoga and pilates.


  • MA; Community Health
    Education.  University of
    Northern IA.  Emphasis in


  • Enhance Fitness Master
    Trainer ~ University of
    Washington, WA.
  • Chronic Disease Self-
    management Master Trainer
    ~ Stanford University, CA.
  • Balance Trainer ~ Cal State
    Fullerton, CA.
  • Personal Trainer / Fitness,
    Yoga & Pilates Instruction ~
    Nat'l Exercise Trainers
Introducing the FUNdamentals of FUNctional FITness

“Health is Wealth…Invest in Yourself with Exercise.”  Jack LaLLane

Jack LaLane is an amazing example of the level of health that results from regular
exercise.  Some of us remember Jack for his amazing feats of physical fitness in the
1950’s and 60’s, some us are more familiar with the Power Juicer Jack and his wife
Elaine advertise, and a few of us are awed by the fact that Jack is still very healthy and
active at the age of 93!  However, what very few of us know is that Jack was not always
healthy.  Jack once had a myriad of health issues.  

The majority of residents and/or patients served in a health care facility, many of which
fall into Jack’s age category, have a myriad of chronic conditions such as arthritis,
diabetes, heart conditions and other various conditions.  These conditions are
overseen by the essential care of a health care professional(s).  However, the time that
any health care professional will spend with an individual is a fraction of the time that
the facility’s activity professional (AP) will spend with him or her.  “Correct?”  I’m sure
you are nodding your head.  With the level of contact an AP has with his or her
residents, there is powerful potential in terms of helping those residents to improve
their functional fitness.  “Sound interesting?”  Read on.  

The FUNdamentals of FUNctional FITness are what I myself developed and use as a
foundation for all of me fitness educations, regardless of age or whether I am teaching
a class or working one-on-one with a client.  The best part, the fundamentals I speak of
are just that…fundamental.  This was carefully thought out and put them together with
20+ years of practical experience and the best practices of a number of evidence-based
programs such as A Matter of Balance, FallProof Programming, Easy Tai Chi and
Enhance Fitness to back it.  Regardless of age, I have found individuals more likely to
respond to requests to be active if they are told not only “what” they are requested to
do…but “why” they should do it.  This column, moving forward, will be an avenue for APs
to learn how to demonstrate the fundamentals to their participants and to help them
understand “what” they are doing and “why” they are doing it.  This is a very important
concept, not to be discounted.  

The FUNdamentals are as follows:

1.        Daily exercise of the full lung capacity.
2.        Daily movements related to the range-of-motion of the major joints.
3.        Daily activities related to improvement of muscular strength.
4.        Daily efforts related to both static and dynamic balance.
5.        Daily cardiovascular-type training.

Upcoming FX/ADT columns will elaborate on these fundamentals one-at-a-time!  For
now… read, rehearse and remember what the fundamentals are, and beginning next
month be ready to introduce them to your residents and/or patients…one-at-a-time.  
YOU will begin to look forward to the following month as you begin to learn new
concepts.  You will walk away each month excited about the idea of teaching and
encouraging those you touch to be active managers of their health by performing the
fundamentals!!  You, and your residents, will be AMAZED at the rapid results that will
transpire.  Even if efforts work to maintain existing health status…that is an
accomplishment in itself.  AMAZING!

“Does this seem like a difficult task?”…“Are you feeling skeptical?”  That is okay, and
particularly likely if you work with lower functioning individuals.  However, I ask you to
trust me…FX truly has something for everyone.  What you will learn over the course of
the next few months will serve the needs of the majority.  Have faith.  Meet me right here
next month where you will read all about why we ALL need to exercise our full lung
capacity on a daily basis.  Come to understand how these efforts serve to improve our
overall health…and be pleasantly surprised at the enjoyment YOU are likely to get from
practicing before you demonstrate!!  

Jack LaLlane talks passionately about the power of his juicer, but anyone who knows
him will tell you his real passion is in the power of being physically active.  Many years
ago Jack made the decision to make positive lifestyle changes, which included a
decision to be physically active.  These changes are what Jack LaLlane says
empowered him to the high level of functional fitness he has known for many years and
still knows today…well into his 90’s.  Even though your residents may not end up being
a mirror image of Jack…it is never too late for any of them to become physically active
and to reap similar associated rewards.  In fact, research suggests that sedentary older
adults who become active are often the quickest to see results.
Until next time…have a healthy day!

Resource Box:
Nikki Carrion’s primary passion and mission is to empower older adults to higher
levels of functional fitness.  With this in mind, Nikki has designed a series of chair
exercise DVDs that are safe and effective AND that put the FUN into FUNction! There
are 7 class-formatted titles that can be seen at the following link and go to the product
page for more information:
There you will see the 7 titles and an easy-to-follow training module that is already
being used by AP’s across the U.S.  The training module has 7 DVDs, one of which is a
downloadable training manual (includes 24 classroom handouts).  Empower yourself
with FitXpress!!  

Contact: with any questions and/or comments.