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

Nikki Carrion’s primary
passion and mission is to
empower older adults to
higher levels of functional
fitness.  Besides the Relax &
Breathe CEU module,
FitXpress has a series of
chair exercise DVDs as well
as a training module for
activity professionals.  
FitXpress methods are safe
and effective AND
demonstrate how to put the
FUN into FUNction!
For more information go to:
check out the product page.
Empower yourself with
or call 319-404-4219.  
Physical Balance:  Lower Body Strength

Welcome back!  This month we’re continuing on the topic of physical balance.  Last
month’s discussion was related to the resident/patient’s (RP) upper body strength as it
is related to balance.  Now…we move the discussion to lower body strength which is
seen as the most critical area of the body.  Get your RPs fired up about improving their
balance by having a brainstorming session in which you ask them, “What are some of
the tasks you do each day that involve balance?”  Have a flip chart handy to write down
all of the things they think of, and be ready to add to add the following if they are not
mentioned; getting out of bed, walking, standing, bathing, getting up from a chair,
getting an item from the cupboard.  Anything you think of that is a common occurrence
for your RPs.  The idea is to help them realize that unless they are lying down…they
need to have balance for almost everything they do.  Then…make a list of the main
things that affect our balance as mentioned; posture, strength, flexibility, & body
awareness.  Ask them, “So…what do you think is the one thing we can do to empower
ourselves to improve these things?”  Of course the answer is to be physically
active…taking necessary action to empower oneself.  There are a multitude of actions
to consider including the following:

1)        Seated heel raises: Pushing forward with hands on laps, slowly lift the heels up-
and-down; develops the muscles of the calves.  5-10 times to start, and gradually build.
2)        Seated toe taps and toe lifts: Lift the balls of the feet slowly up and drop back
down.  After 5-10…tap the toes until a warm sensation is felt along the front of the
ankles and/or the outer edge of the shin; develops the muscles of the front of the ankle
and lower leg.   
3)        Seated leg extensions: Hands resting on the thighs…foot flexed, lengthen the leg
forward and pretend to PUSH the heel against an imaginary wall.  The hands on the
thighs should feel the muscles in this area tighten; develops the quads in the front of
the upper leg/thigh area.  
4)        Seated step-and-pull: Step away from the chair with one foot and set the heel
down.  Digging the heel into the floor, slowly pull the foot back to a normal seated
position.  Do the same on the opposite side and repeat several times; develops the
hamstrings on the back of the upper leg.
5)        “Popcorn” in a chair: Simple squeeze the bottom (a.k.a. bumm, tush) against the
chair.  Start with a slow action as if to simulate popcorn when it is just beginning to
pop.  Then…squeeze a little faster as if to simulate the popping when the oil is getting
hotter.  On the last squeeze…hold it (be sure to remind them to breathe); develops the
outer-most layer of the glutes (hips).
6)        Seated squeeze: Squeeze a ball or a pillow between the knees; develops the
inner thigh muscles as well as other various muscles of the hips, thighs and core.  
Excellent one!!  
7)        Seated side-sweep: Slide the right foot to the side and back to the center.  Slide
the left foot to the side and back to the center.  Repeat several times on each side;
develops the deep hip-supporting muscles and the outer thighs.  

Remember…the more physical activity an individual participates in the better.  But…you
may have RPs who just don’t want to participate in a structured physical activity class.  
Consider the idea of providing “balance tips” that correspond with a daily activity such
as lunch or supper.  If you do have a structured activity class, use these same tips as
the educational aspect of the class.  Use the list above, and tell them as they do the
exercise “what” they doing and “why” they are doing it.     

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to visit our website
or give me a call; 1-800-481-7449.  If you would like a FREE sample DVD of the various
FitXpress exercise titles, send me an email;

Until next month, be healthy…be happy!