My mother was taller than me when I graduated from college, but now I tower over her.
Not because I had a twentysomething growth spurt, but because she’s been plagued by osteoporosis, which literally means “porous bone.”
This horrible condition, which causes the bones to become more porous and fragile, greatly increasing the risk of painful and often disabling broken bones, is a tough one to treat and an impossible one to cure. They think my mom’s osteoporosis was caused by chemotherapy, but genetics and aging are factors too. So naturally I was intrigued when I wrote about OsteoStrong (osteostrong.me) for last year’s Active Aging guide. But at that time, because of the pandemic, the wellness studio was closed to the public, and I wasn’t able to try out the machines for myself.
This year, I finally got to check out the rather novel bone-building exercise approach designed to stimulate bone growth through delivery of high-intensity loads. A franchise operation owned by Yvonne and Jim Parsons, the OsteoStrong program uses special exercise machines that deliver intense bone-stimulating loads through four nearmaximal
“The most important thing is that you compress the bone and the axial,” explained
Yvonne of how it works. “And if you noticed, when you were doing each piece of equipment, nothing moves. We get into position and it’s robotic in that sense, but once you get on, nothing moves except you, and it’s the compression of the bone that stimulates the adaptive response.”
The circuit itself takes only about 10 minutes, which is certainly efficient. I didn’t work up a sweat because, as Yvonne explained, “It’s only about the adaptive response. A good
analogy is that it’s like if you walked into a dark room and your pupils expanded. You go
to a gym to get your muscles strong, but you go here to get your skeletal strength.”
The machines work on the principle of “osteogenic” loading. These super-resistance
machines cover every section of the body—a chest press, leg press, core pull, and skeleton stressing vertical lift—and they resemble weight machines with feedback monitors. Clients come in once a week, stand on vibration platforms to warm up, then exert 30 seconds of all-out force at each workout station.
All in 10 minutes! Seriously, I saw at least three people cycle through as I interviewed
Although my one session at OsteoStrong was not enough time to report any results,
nothing hurt afterward, and the people I saw come in seemed to be all smiles with
a little extra spring in their steps. There are certainly loads of happy customers, as their video testimonials attest to (osteostrong.me/video-gallery).
“People love it,” said Yvonne. “It’s fast, it’s very safe, and it’s so efficient. It seems like it’s not real, but it really is. We can’t say that we cure anything or anything like that, but we have many members who come in and they’ve had their T-score [a measure of bone density] measured, and they come in, and the next year when they get it again, the T-score has improved and bone density has improved. … When your bones are stronger, you’re not having that fear of fracture if you fall. It’s like when you walk off of a curb, people go, ‘Oh no, I don’t have any problem with that anymore.’ Their balance and agility has improved.”
Check it out yourself for free. Call (805) 453-6086 or email email@example.com to set up an appointment. See osteostrong.me
Originally published in The Santa Barbara Independent on August 12, 2021. Cover photo by Erick Madrid. To read this special section as it originally appeared in print, click here.