by Jane Lenel
“Couch potato” is not an endearing term, and Kevin Mallon would never use it with those who choose to stay seated. Nor is he prone to restating the overused cliché “Use it or lose it” to explain his obvious mission at Cathedral Village in upper Roxborough, where he has been the director of the Fitness Center for 10 years.
“The challenge of my job is trying to cure inactivity,” he says, explaining that exercise is not only important for the healthy functioning of our hearts, digestion, brains, etc. — even memory — “but it also enhances the pursuit of the joys in [our] lives.”
Of course, fitness centers abound offering all the standard exercise cure-alls, but Mallon (the best-loved man at Cathedral Village, where everyone simply knows him as Kevin) does more than add 10-pound weights to your leg lifts and prescribe umpteen minutes of Nu Step pedaling on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
He builds personal relationships with his Cathedral Village fitness “customers,” gets to know their whole life picture and what motivates them, and knows the intimate details of their knees, backs and other parts.
He’s also unique in advising: “Be creative in your movements. Be creative in your thoughts, feelings and actions; bring lightness and aliveness to your inner realm; feel more effective and efficient in your movements and energize them. Be more present and in touch with your body.”
“What I’m selling — well-rounded, holistic wellness — pays vast dividends,” he insists.
Citing an article, “Exercising and the Aging Brain,” by Terry Eckmann, Ph.D, in the Journal on Active Aging (Nov./ Dec. 2011), Kevin notes that ”just as with cardiovascular health, the brain can change in response to exercise and other positive lifestyle choices at age 9 months or 90 years.” There are also numerous factors — neurons, dendrites — that affect the brain’s growth through exercise, as well as stimulating the production of brain chemicals.
At the CV retirement community in his job “activating” residents, some of whom have accumulated as many as 90 or more years, Kevin works not only on land (in the fitness center) but at sea (in the big swimming pool), stretching, strengthening and combating the water pressure, but no belly flops. Yoga and Tai Chi classes are also part of the routine and he has regular meetings with the CV medical staff — a general wellness team — to keep abreast of everyone’s needs and development.
“The less medication, the better,” he says. ”Cultivating your health organically” is the trick, not pills, and becoming more in touch with your body and releasing tension.”
A resident of Roxborough all his life until a recent move to Doylestown, Kevin, 33, went to Germantown Academy and Ursinus College in Collegeville. At Ursinus he received a B,S, degree in Exercise and Sports Science focusing on anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, psychology, etc., and he minored in business management. His home family with his wife Kate includes three children: Kevin James, 5, who helps Kevin mow the lawn; Marleigh, 3, and Maxwell 10 weeks, who is “an example of the innate ability to move correctly,” Kevin says.
Kevin communicates to the residents at Cathedral Village that fitness/wellness is a continuous journey and not a destination, so activity must be built into our daily routine. “We have activity integrated into our family lifestyle,” he says, centering on being active and adventurous as a family, including hiking, kayaking, swimming and biking, combined with the love of sports he’s had since he was a boy.
Kevin spends warm weather weekends at the shore scuba-diving shipwrecks off the Jersey coast for exploration, as well as spear-fishing and lobster catching. He is certified as a rescue diver and is currently working on his dive master certification. He also has spent the past six years as an assistant football coach for the Germantown Academy Patriots football team.
Kevin is not “selling” scuba diving as a cure-all for strengthening and stimulating weak muscles, but he does advocate pursuing activities that people enjoy as part of his curative formula. He invites anyone interested in exploring his Cathedral Village fitness classes to email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.