Sprint Triathlon Training 101

Group of individuals participating in a race.

Imagine your adrenaline pumping, sweat glistening on your skin as your stride quickens finally seeing the finish line up ahead—so close, yet so far. It’s like a scene right out of a movie, arms pumped into fists above your head as you cross the finish line, exhausted but feeling accomplished. Cooper Fitness Center Professional Fitness Trainer and Cardiovascular Pro Jonny Wright and Swim Pro Marni Kerner share tips for helping you cross the finish line to your first sprint triathlon.

The basics

First things first, what is a sprint triathlon? A sprint triathlon is a series of three athletic events typically including a 500-meter swim (pool or open water), 12- to 15-mile cycle and 5K run (3.1 miles). Combining three athletic events into one race can seem daunting but breaking it into smaller chunks will help you accomplish the challenge.

If you are starting from scratch, allowing yourself 12 weeks to prepare for the event is optimal. “I recommend my clients who exercise regularly to spend at least eight weeks preparing for their race,” says Wright. This allows proper time to train for each individual aspect of the race. Training three to five days a week (one to two days for each event) is plenty. Be sure to schedule regular rest days into your training as well to prevent injury.

  • Swimming. Swimming is the shortest part of the triathlon at only 20% of the total race. It is important to conserve energy and save your legs for the next two sections. Focus on correct form and steady breathing. You can often make up time in the bike and run portions of your race. A place to start when training for the swimming portion of the triathlon is practicing swimming for 20 minutes or so one to two days a week. Exclude your breaks from total swim time.
  • Biking. Biking is the longest part of the triathlon at 50%. For the bike portion, keep a steady pace throughout the 12 miles and focus on a smooth transition into running. When transitioning off the bike, give your legs a quick stretch to get your blood flowing. Focus on endurance when training for this portion of the race. Practice biking at a steady rate for long periods of time.
  • Running. Your last leg of the race, running, takes up 30% of your time. Instead of sprinting right out of the gate, it is best to slowly build your speed throughout this event and finish strong. When beginning your training, interval training is beneficial. Run for 30 seconds, walk for two minutes and then repeat. As your training progresses, increase the amount of time you’re running and decrease the walking time.

“Focus on your weakest event,” says Wright. “If you’re already an avid swimmer, your training program could include swimming once a week allowing more time for running and biking.” Training varies depending on your fitness level and limitations.

Being mentally prepared for your first triathlon is key. “You will likely hit a wall during your triathlon, especially during the running portion after having already completed the swim and bike part,” says Kerner. “Think about how far you’ve already come and the finish line up ahead to help motivate you to keep going.”

Top tips

Having competed in multiple triathlons each, Wright and Kerner share their top three tips for completing your first sprint triathlon:

Jonny Wright

  • Keep your training simple. The more complicated you make it, the less fun the event will be.
  • Don’t get caught up in the numbers and data. Focus on just completing each section, no matter how long it takes you.
  • Practice your transitions. Brick workouts can help you train for your transitions from swim to bike and bike to run. An example brick workout would be biking a mile and then transitioning to running 800 meters or so. Practicing this multiple times will ensure you are well prepared for race day.

Marni Kerner

  • Ensure you have proper gear. Local bike shops and triathlon shops such as PlayTri rent out necessary gear so you don’t break the bank purchasing for your first triathlon.
  • Consult with a credible professional such as a professional fitness trainer. They can help you build a training program to prevent injury.
  • Do your research. Researching will ensure you know what you’re getting yourself into and not biting off more than you can chew. When exploring specific races, pay attention to the course map, where the transitions are and start times.

Lastly, just have fun! Signing up for your first triathlon can be scary, so make it less intimidating by finding a training group. Running, biking and swimming clubs can be found in most major cities. PlayTri and other local triathlon shops can help connect you with a group and help you register for your first race. On race day, talk to other competitors. You may learn something about the course or gain helpful tips and tricks from seasoned triathletes.

Interested in training for your first triathlon? Get sport-specific and professional fitness training at Cooper Fitness Center. Learn more at cooperfitnesscenter.com. And it’s never too young to start. Get the whole family involved with our youth triathlon clinics.

The Treadmill Stress Test: What Is an EP’s Role?

What is exercise physiology (EP)? It is a specialization within the field of kinesiology. Kinesiology, literally defined, is the study of human movement. Put simply, exercise physiologists help people become their best physical selves. These medical technicians study the body’s responses to movement as well as how the body adapts to physical activity over time. James Vogelsang, Cooper Clinic Exercise Physiologist, shares insight on his profession and what you could expect from a Cooper Clinic preventive medical exam.

At the heart of the Cooper Clinic preventive medical exam, the treadmill stress test measures patients’ fitness levels, identifies their heart’s functional capacity and determines their personal risks of cardiovascular diseases such as stroke and heart attack. During this portion of the exam, the EP monitors the patient’s resting heart rate (before the treadmill stress test), maximum heart rate, fitness level, EKG (electrocardiogram) and recovery heart rate (post-treadmill stress test). Before beginning the treadmill stress test, the EP asks you about your exercise habits:

  • How often do you exercise and for how long?
  • What kind of exercises are you doing?
  • How do you feel after you work out?

The goal in asking these questions is for the EP to notice any need for improvement or adjustment. If no signs of abnormalities are present in the pre-test screening, and the EP has the doctor’s approval, they proceed with the treadmill stress test. The stress test typically involves the patient walking or running on a treadmill while their blood pressure and heart rate is monitored. Once the test is complete, the EP focuses on bringing the patient’s heart rate down to normal with a 10-minute cool down.

In the 1960s, Dr. Kenneth H. Cooper, along with future space shuttle astronaut Dr. William Thornton, developed the technology for NASA to accurately monitor EKGs on astronauts. This technology helped lead to the development of treadmill stress testing used as a diagnostic tool to detect early signs of coronary heart disease. Dr. Cooper was the first physician in Dallas to begin using the stress test. While the medical equipment is more advanced, this same testing is used by the EPs today.

During their time with the patients, EPs educate them on the importance of moving more and moving well and provide support and encouragement to help patients improve their quality and quantity of life. The EPs develop a personalized, balanced exercise plan per the ACSM guidelines for each patient based on their target heart range for exercise.

Vogelsang shares common myths patients believe about being physically fit:

  1. You can out-train a bad diet.
  2. Lifting weights makes you bulky.
  3. You can target fat loss with the right exercises.
  4. Stretching isn’t important after a workout.

Each of these statements is false. Out-training a bad diet is not realistic. Staying physically fit requires you to make conscious decisions about food and exercise most days of the week. Vogelsang says a healthy balance of strength training, resistance training, cardio, flexibility and mobility training during the week along with a healthy diet is most effective for weight loss. To develop an eating plan customized to your health and fitness goals, visit Cooper Clinic Nutrition.

No scientific proof shows you can target fat loss in specific areas of your body. For example, “if you do 50 crunches a day, that doesn’t guarantee you will achieve abdominal definition. For most people, the mid-section is the last place fat comes off,” Vogelsang says.

Working on one’s flexibility and mobility are often overlooked when trying to maintain physical fitness. For flexibility, it is important to stretch before and after your workout to reduce any tension or strain on muscles and joints and increase blood circulation and range of motion. Foam rolling improves muscle quality and mobility by encouraging the muscles to relax.

Some exercises you can do at home to improve your physical fitness involve zero equipment. Vogelsang recommends the following three exercises as a foundation for any workout routine. Perform three sets of 15 reps for each exercise and rest 1-2 minutes in between sets.  

  1. Push-ups. After you warm up and stretch, start with push-ups. You get the most out of your push-ups if you keep the movement slow and controlled.
  2. Squats. Next are squats. It’s important to keep your chest up, hips back and drive your weight to your heels. Also remember to keep a soft bend in your knees—do not lock them.
  3. Shoulder retraction. The last exercise is shoulder retraction. Lie face down on the ground, palms facing the ceiling and slowly lift your chest while imagining you are squeezing a pencil between your shoulder blades.

Vogelsang holds a Bachelor of Science in kinesiology with a focus in applied exercise physiology from Texas A&M University. He has always been interested in sports and exercise and was an EMT before joining the Cooper Clinic team in 2013.

To find out more about how you can stay physically fit and receive preventive care, visit cooper-clinic.com to schedule your Cooper Clinic preventive medical exam.

Categories: Fitness

Dive Into Cooper’s Masters Swim Program

Not many sports are labeled “lifetime sports.” The reason is many sports can wear out one’s joints and put bodies at a higher risk of injury. Swimming is known as a lifetime sport due to the minimal risk for injury, while enhancing your strength, endurance, flexibility and confidence. The exercise of swimming can be learned at any age—and can be enjoyed for a lifetime! Not only does this sport take impact stress off your body, but it can help you maintain a healthy weight, heart and lungs.

At Cooper Fitness Center, we take pride in our Masters Swim Program for these very reasons of low impact and cardiovascular benefits. Swimmers of all levels—beginners to advanced—participate. They meet weekly to work on mechanics and training techniques to improve their overall skills.

In May, Cooper swimmers competed on the Lone Star Masters team, which placed 1st overall at the 2022 Spring National Championship meet in San Antonio. Cooper swimmers medaled in many events—both individually as well as in the relay. Of the 1,800 total competitors, seven Cooper members competed—Tom Christian, Janie Cole, Ken Wooley, Lynn Silver, Ross Meyer, Stephanie Stewart and Elliot Brackett. Congratulations to all!

While the competitive accolades are gratifying, the health benefits of swimming are even more valuable long term. Swimming helps you maintain a healthy weight and healthy heart while toning muscles. Not only does swimming build your strength and endurance, it also keeps your heart rate up. Masters Swim Program member, Peter Roe, says, “I’ve been swimming masters for 9 years now, three times per week, year-round. It has replaced running, which I knew sooner or later I would have to give up. I’ve learned new skills, maintained a mental edge, made many new friends and even lost weight. Every class is different—some days we do sprints, some days long distance, some days both. But always a variety. And it’s as competitive as you want it to be. Our morning group is moderately competitive. Overall masters has been very rewarding to me; I hate to miss even one day.”

Cooper’s Masters Swim Program is a positive environment providing a common bond to foster new friendships. We asked a few of the members how this team has impacted them for the better:

“I began swimming as a kid and have never stopped. Others on the team have come back to swimming after years or even decades of not swimming as a fun way to stay healthy, active and be the best they can be.” – Ross Meyer, swimmer and coach

“Being on the team has meant a great deal to me. From physical fitness, to friendships, and the fun of swimming at competitions, it adds up to the whole package. I was a beginner swimmer when I joined, and it was very gratifying winning third place in the 400-meter individual medley and first place in the 200-meter breaststroke at the 2019 long course zone championship at Texas A&M University.” – Ken Woolley

“Cooper swim team is the best hidden gem! Few even know it exists but the ones who do have been with it for decades. This group is very supportive of one another, very welcoming to new swimmers, and the coaching staff are the best in the state! Every level of swimmer can come get a good workout and get help on stroke technique. Each lane has different intervals to welcome all ages. These are small group practices where no overcrowding occurs.” – Stephanie Stewart

“I have the pleasure of being part of our Masters Swim Program as a swimmer and a coach. It’s the people who make this program special. Bobby Patten is our Lead Coach. Always a fun and knowledgeable coach to have on deck! The swimmers are dedicated and entertaining at the same time. Never a dull moment at our practices. Lots of laughs with lots of laps! We welcome new swimmers at any level. Do not be intimidated. We are here to make you a better swimmer and a part of our very special group!” – Janie Cole, swimmer and coach

Location: Cooper Hotel Pool

Dates (ongoing):

Monday-Friday, 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Monday/Wednesday/Friday, 6:30-7:30 a.m.

To learn more about joining Cooper Fitness Center and taking advantage of all membership has to offer, visit the Cooper Fitness Center website or call 972.233.4832.

If you are already a member, visit the Masters web page to learn more about how to join our Masters Swim Program!

Chronic Disease Management and Prevention

Backed by science and based on Cooper Aerobics’ 50+ years of health and fitness expertise, Cooper® Tracks is more than just a fitness program. Cooper Tracks combines exercise and education to form specialized programs focused on chronic disease management and prevention. With six tracks—four focused on chronic disease and two on prevention—there’s something suitable for everyone.

Chronic Disease Tracks

Adults with the following would benefit from Cooper Tracks:

  • Cardiovascular: Diagnosed with stable cardiovascular disease, completed cardiac rehabilitation or may not qualify for cardiac rehabilitation or those who have cardiovascular risk factors.
  • Arthritis: Diagnosed with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis or other inflammatory arthritic conditions.
  • Diabetes: Prediabetes or those with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes.
  • Cancer: Diagnosed with cancer or those recovering from cancer at any stage.

Prevention Tracks

To help prevent illness and chronic disease, adults with the following would benefit from Cooper Tracks prevention tracks:

  • Immunity and Reconditioning: Desiring to follow a preventive approach to boost immunity or those recovering from COVID-19 or illness/immobility.
  • Well-Being: Who desire to follow a preventive approach to health, deconditioned or sedentary and inconsistent with regular exercise.

Watch the video below to learn more about Cooper Tracks.

Programs are eight weeks in length with two small group exercise/education sessions per week. Sessions consist of a 50-minute workout including a warm-up, cardiovascular exercise, strength-training and cooldown. Each program begins with a pre-program health assessment which includes testing cardiovascular endurance with a six-minute walk test and a body composition test. Throughout the duration of Cooper Tracks, participants are given a personalized exercise plan as well as education materials, including goal setting, to help them better understand how to manage their chronic disease and live a healthy life. At the conclusion of the program, the same assessment is performed to show individuals how far they’ve come over the eight weeks.

Lotty Repp Casillas joined the Cooper Diabetes Track at Cooper Fitness Center thinking it would invigorate her but she gained so much more. “It has been good to have a group who has diabetes to talk to and figure out how to deal with the good and bad days. I have loved this experience; it’s the best thing I’ve done for myself in a long time,” says Casillas. Not only has Casillas gained a better understanding of exercise relating to diabetes, she also bonded with other participants and instructor Debi Wilkins, MS, professional fitness trainer. “Debi has been incredible. She has really taken the time to know and understand how we are dealing with diabetes.”

Cooper Wellness Strategies Programs Director Sheryl Brown, PT, MSPT, says “Cooper Tracks is not your typical small group training. The education component is specific to the chronic disease being addressed which promotes self-efficacy and independence with management of the chronic disease. Cooper Tracks focuses on all four domains of health and wellness—physical, mental, social and behavioral— which sets us apart from other fitness programs.” Addressing all domains of health ensures the participant’s physical, social and emotional needs are being met which fosters long-term compliance and better outcomes for the participant. These programs are individualized based on the needs of each participant while also providing community, accountability, fitness and education in a small intimate setting.

Carla Sottovia, PhD, Director of Fitness and Personal Training Education at Cooper Fitness Center, says “My favorite part of seeing Cooper Tracks come to life is the positive feedback we’ve been given. Participants have enjoyed the program structure and it has been great to see them grow from day one to the end of the program.”

While the chronic disease tracks are specific to individuals living with a chronic disease, Brown and Sottovia agree that the prevention tracks truly are for anyone. “The Well-being Track can apply to anyone because it consists of comprehensive educational content centered around mental health, stress management, body ergonomics and mindful relaxation techniques,” says Brown.

Whether you are diagnosed with a chronic disease or want to focus on prevention, Cooper Tracks is proving that fitness and wellness is for everyone.

Cooper Tracks is currently offered at:

To join Cooper Tracks, contact one of the facilities in your area. Interested in implementing Cooper Tracks in your facility? Visit the Cooper Tracks page on Cooper Wellness Strategies website, call 972.560.3263 or fill out the online form.

Gut Health 101

Woman holding stomach in pain

The idea of balancing overall gastrointestinal (GI) health is something we can all strive for but may not fully attain. Researchers are discovering breakthroughs every day, and this will likely always be the case. The good news is registered dietitian nutritionists can help clear the air when it comes to the information we receive about GI health and how it relates to our own situation/symptoms. Learn how you can take small steps to improving your gut health related to IBS, pre/probiotics, fiber intake and nutritional supplements.

Cooper Clinic’s Gastrointestinal Nutrition Specialist, Gillian White, RDN, LD, CNSC answers a few questions to provide insight on this topic, specifically in young adults. White completed her undergraduate education at Texas Tech University with a degree in Human Nutrition and Dietetics. She then completed her internship and residency at Baptist Health Systems in San Antonio where she began her clinical practice. She became a Certified Nutrition Support Clinician (CNSC) and managed patient’s nutrition support including TPN (a form of medical nutrition therapy). Through her clinical practice she decided to pursue a specialty in GI.

Q: What is the biggest mistake you see people make when trying to solve GI problems?

A: People begin cutting things out of their diet. If you start cutting certain foods out you believe are the problem, and then get tested for conditions such as celiac disease, the issue might not show up on the test results. Gluten and dairy are the two foods people typically cut out first. If you are being tested for celiac disease, the test looks at the antibodies in gluten—gluten is a single protein found in wheat, barley and rye—If you cut gluten out of your diet, you may receive a false negative for celiac and not get to the root of the problem. Before you begin the “cut out” method, it is highly encouraged for you to see a nutritional specialist who may refer you to a gastroenterologist or allergist before taking your gut health into your own hands.

Q: Are there nutritional supplements that can make GI symptoms worse?

A: Unknowingly taking numerous types of probiotics and prebiotics can worsen the symptoms of people suffering from issues like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). For instance, people with IBS have a higher rate of small intestinal bacteria overgrowth (SIBO). In the general health population people have a balance of good and bad microbes that keep each other in balance and are a part of the gut’s natural flora. You could consider the “good” microbes as your own native probiotics that keep the less beneficial microbes in check. If you have SIBO, your body has trouble keeping bacteria in the colon (where it is supposed to be). So, if you consume probiotics, it could introduce bacteria in the wrong place—like the small intestine. It is not harmful bacteria, but when they are in the wrong place it can worsen symptoms. However, certain strains of probiotics can help your GI tract but are condition specific. It is not the magic bullet as it helps some people and not others. To date there is no universal probiotic for general health as everyone’s gut flora is like a unique fingerprint and highly individualized. To get a better grasp on which strands of probiotics are most suitable for you, I recommend visiting usprobioticguide.com.

Q: What, in your opinion, are the best “gut foods” for normal functioning GI tracks and sensitive ones?

A: The foundational factor in maintaining good GI health is overall fiber intake. There are many subgroups of fiber, the big two being soluble and insoluble. Fiber has varying degrees of solubility which means how much they dissolve in water (they also vary in viscosity which means how gel-like they become in water) or how fermentable they are with bacteria.

For an individual with a normal functioning GI tract, it is important for your gut health to have diversity of the fiber subgroups in your diet. On the other hand, if you battle IBS or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) such as Crohn’s, you would most likely be advised to consume less insoluble fibers and more soluble—especially if you are experiencing a flare up. Since insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water, it does not change form and acts like an exfoliant in the GI tract. That is why it is good for a normal functioning GI tract and not for someone with pre-existing GI inflammation or increased sensitivity as it can be more irritating. Examples of insoluble foods are:

  • Wheat bran
  • Nuts
  • Green beans
  • Cauliflower
  • Potatoes

Soluble fiber is beneficial for someone with Crohn’s disease, other GI issue, and gut health in general because it can help produce anti-inflammatory substances called short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) when broken down by gut bacteria and may lower intestinal inflammation. Soluble fibers can be easier to digest because it is gentle and gel-like to avoid obstructions in the intestine or bowel. Its gel-like properties are the reason soluble fibers help regulate blood sugar levels and lower cholesterol because the fiber can slow the absorption of sugar and help improve blood sugar levels. SCFAs may also assist in strengthening the immune system through the gut (which makes up 70% of our overall immunity).

Most foods have a combination of both insoluble and soluble fibers. For example, the skin of most fruits, such as apples, is insoluble fiber while the inside is soluble. Some good food sources of soluble fiber are:

  • Black beans
  • Chia seeds
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Avocados
  • Pears

We encourage you to talk with a registered dietitian nutritionist to determine the best next step to take with your diet!

Q: In a basic diet, is there a certain vitamin or supplement someone should take to make up for a deficiency?

A: The most common vitamin deficiency is vitamin D. Although you can obtain vitamin D from the sun, there are limited food sources. You can absorb some vitamin D by eating mushrooms, fortified dairy products and egg yolks in moderation. To make up for what you don’t consume in your diet, a supplement may be necessary. To explore vitamin D further, read the Decision article called “The Power of Prevention” by Kenneth Cooper, MD, MPH, and his advice on vitamin D supplements. 

Q: Is “coating” your stomach by drinking pressed juice a viable way to prevent bloating before eating a meal?

A: There is no research or evidence to support this, so most likely not. There is really nothing food-wise that can “coat” the stomach. This is an example of where science and marketing clash because over-the-counter supplements and nutrition trends do not always cater to everyone. Bloating can tell you a lot about the origin of your digestive troubles and help narrow down the best plan of action for improving symptoms. If you are struggling with bloating on a day-to-day basis, doctors may encourage taking Simethicone (Gas-XÒ) before eating meals as a preventive measure.

A few key take-aways for those who suffer from GI distress include diversifying one’s intake of fiber subgroups, do not cut out certain foods before you are tested, pay more attention to science over marketing and most importantly, talk with a registered dietitian nutritionist.

To schedule an in-person consultation or tele-visit or to learn more about Cooper Clinic Nutrition, visit cooperclinicnutrition.com or call 972.560.2655.

For more information about services and screenings offered at Cooper Clinic, visit cooper-clinic.com or call 972.560.2667. 

Your Lavender Escape Awaits

Lavender spa products with dried lavender flowers on a wooden table.

Melt your stress away with one of Cooper Spa’s new Harmonic Lavender services. The soft ambient music, exceptionally clean workstations and complimentary robe and slippers provide a relaxing atmosphere you won’t want to leave. With spa professionals expertly trained and guiding you through every step of the process, nothing unwanted goes on your skin or nails. You’ll leave your service with a relaxed mind and body and nails in the best condition they’ve ever been.

Harmonic Lavender Pedicure

Sit back, relax and prop your feet up in an oversized massage chair. A dry, warm towel with drops of lavender essential oil is gently placed around your neck when you begin your service. The sweet, floral lavender scent instantly brings comfort and clarity; you can’t help but drift into a peaceful state of mind during this Harmonic Lavender Pedicure. Your stress will instantly melt away the second you slip your feet into the warm lavender fresh soak.

After a relaxing soak, your nails are cut and filed before the lavender sugar scrub is massaged into your skin. After the exfoliating mask is rinsed off, your legs feel soft and buttery smooth. The calming effects of the lavender essential oils brings increased clarity to your mind as you relax.

Next, your cuticles are trimmed, nails buffed and cuticle oil rubbed in. A lavender moisture mask is generously applied to the feet and calves, instantly hydrating your tired feet. Close your eyes and relax for five minutes as the cooling mask soaks into the skin, leaving the lavender scent lingering on your body the rest of the day.

Finally, a luxurious lavender lotion and massage is given, releasing tension, aches and pains from your legs. Select the polish of your choice to finish off this relaxing pedicure and walk away feeling refreshed and ready to take on the rest of your day.

Harmonic Lavender Manicure

Pedicures not your thing? Try a relaxing and therapeutic Harmonic Lavender Manicure to de-stress this summer! Start with a lavender fresh soak to soften cuticles and cleanse the nails. Your nail beds are thoroughly cleaned—nails clipped, filed and shaped to your liking—before a lavender sugar scrub is applied to the forearms and hands. This special blend of natural lavender essential oil and sugar mix exfoliates your rough, dry skin leaving it soft and glowing. Fresh, warm towels wrapped around the arms and hands add to the calming experience. Oh, how soothing; but the pampering doesn’t end here.

Your cuticles are cleaned up next. Cuticles are trimmed, nails are buffed to shine and cuticle oil is rubbed in to protect the nails. Indulge in the heavenly lavender scented moisture mask applied next to hydrate the skin. Arms and hands are wrapped in another set of warm, wet towels, allowing your skin to fully soak up the calming effects of the treatment. Sink into the seat as the warmth takes over your whole body. Once removed, the moisture mask leaves your skin dewy and silky smooth.

This manicure ends with the subtle yet comforting luxurious lavender scented lotion and massage so relaxing, you’ll want to fall asleep. Feel the tension leave your body as the lotion is massaged into your arms, hands and fingers. No manicure is complete without the finishing touch of the polish of your choice. Choose a neutral color to compliment your everyday look or spice it up with something fun for the summer—whatever you choose, you’re sure to leave with beautifully-refreshed, polished nails.

Have time to spare? After your service, enjoy the sauna, whirlpool and steam room located inside Cooper Fitness Center to further your relaxation. Complimentary use of the locker room facilities are available for use during the day of treatment. For your convenience and peace of mind, we provide complimentary childcare for children ages 2 months to 12 years at Cooperized Kids based on length of time and availability.

Experience the relaxing and calming effects of lavender yourself with one of Cooper Spa’s new services. Choose from the Harmonic Lavender Manicure, Pedicure or Sugar Scrub body treatment. For a complete day of relaxation, try our Harmonic Lavender Escape package which includes all three.

Make an appointment with one of our skilled spa professionals. Call 972.392.7729 to schedule your Harmonic Lavender service. For Cooper Spa’s complete menu of services, visit cooperspa.com.

Built on a Promise: A Brief History of the Land Where Cooper Aerobics Center Now Stands

The Nichols family fishing at the pond on their property.

The world-renowned, 30-acre Cooper Aerobics Center is a beloved and familiar sight to those who live in Dallas, Texas. Located at 12100 Preston Road, at the very heart of bustling North Dallas, this beautiful, urban oasis features lush greenery, winding jogging tracks, sparkling ponds, towering pecan trees and colorful crepe myrtle trees that surround the property on two sides. 

But decades before Dr. Kenneth H. Cooper purchased the property in 1970, it was owned by the prominent young oil man C.A. Lester. In 1937, Lester built a white colonial mansion on top of a white rock hill for his wife, Florence, and their daughter, Patsy. The house overlooked cotton and cornfields just outside the city limits of Dallas. A deep artesian well and natural springs furnished the water supply while large butane tanks supplied fuel for the estate.

After Florence became terminally ill and passed, Lawrence Lee Nichols and Clarise Nichols acquired the property in 1941. They kept in mind Lester’s wish, to relinquish the home to someone who would appreciate it and build their life around it. We interviewed their eldest son, Larry Nichols, to learn more about the history of the property and what it was like growing up there in the 1940s and ‘50s.

How did the Nichols family come to acquire the property?

Larry: The story begins in about 1939 when my mom and dad married. They were living at the Stoneleigh Hotel when my mother became pregnant in 1940, which turned out to be me. So that’s when they started looking for a place. And the place they bought was 12100 Preston Road, the address we all know today as Cooper Aerobics Center.

They bought the property from an oil man who had built a stately, pillared house on the original 13-acre parcel of land. At the time, it was a farm on some desirable farmland.

My dad saw its potential and had a plan which began with the purchase of 154 crepe myrtle trees which he planted all the way around the periphery of Preston Road and Willow Lane. Eighty years later they’re still there. He spent $600 for all of them. I was about five years old at the time and had the duty of keeping the trees hoed and lawn mowed and looking nice. I worked with my dad a lot maintaining the property. By the time I was six, I was driving a tractor. It was a great place to grow up.

My dad also created two lakes and had dams, spillways and a bridge constructed out of concrete. The bridge featured textured concrete to give the appearance of petrified wood. Oh, and he stocked the ponds with channel catfish, bass and crappie which we often had for dinner. Our family frequently enjoyed fishing together.

The next part of my dad’s plan was to plant pecan trees even though the nurserymen discouraged him from doing so. The property has a shallow bedrock of limestone that impedes growth and prevents pecan trees from getting enough moisture. But my father loved pecan trees so he hired an expert and dynamited just enough to fracture the limestone so the water could penetrate and the roots had room to grow.

He planted 36 pecan trees of which 34 flourished. At the time they were planted they were already somewhere around 20 years old so the ones you see on the property now are about 100 years old. They bore a lot of pecans too. I used to gather them, scoop them into one-pound bags and sell them on the corner of the highway. I’d sell upwards of 100 bags.

The pecan trees were a great addition to the property. Dad also planted a peach, apple and pecan tree orchard in the back with peach, pear and apple trees and grew vegetables every year. He loved that land and loved working on it.

The Nichols estate, 1941.
The Nichols estate, 1941.

What structures were on the property when your parents bought it?

Larry: Well, the columned building facing Preston Road everybody’s familiar with was the original home on the estate. But was much smaller then. Initially it was just two bedrooms, a small kitchen and living area. The front entry was very much like it is today including the curved staircase. My dad kept updating the house to make it nicer, adding onto it three times as our family grew. He totally redid the outside, replacing rotting wooden columns in the front with substantial new concrete columns.

He also added a caretaker’s house in the back where a couple lived who helped us maintain the property and give my mom a hand with the house and cooking.

What was the surrounding area like back then?

Larry: We were in the country. When I was a kid, Preston Road was a two-lane highway that served as the main route going north to Oklahoma. There was no Central Expressway then. Preston Road was paved but Willow Lane, Forest Lane and all the other roads that crossed Preston were dirt roads. There was nothing around but fields of cotton and corn, a drug store and two filling stations with little rooms that sold some essential groceries and goods. The closest places to do serious shopping were Highland Park Village and Snider Plaza.

Bus service didn’t even come up that far. It stopped at Northwest Highway. My dad had a business downtown that I worked for part time. So, from the time I was seven or eight years old, to get home I would take the bus to Northwest Highway then hitchhike the rest of the way.

How did Dr. Cooper come to purchase the property?

Years after Lawrence passed of heart disease (1957), Clarice was invited to attend the Howard Butt’s Lay Leadership Conference at the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Dr. Kenneth H. Cooper, who was a young flight surgeon in the Air Force at the time, was the keynote speaker. The message Dr. Cooper brought to the crowd was one to be remembered but Clarice never thought she would cross his path again.

Larry: In 1969 or so my mom, who was then a widow, decided to sell. It was just her then (as my siblings and I had grown up and married) and she found the property too much to maintain, so she put it on the market. At the time, getting the best price would’ve meant selling to a multi-family developer of some type because by this time, the area was growing very fast. But the neighbors didn’t want high-density housing in the neighborhood and my mom wasn’t keen on seeing our beautiful property get leveled by bulldozers.

It’s about then that I believe the good Lord intervened. At the time my mother was needing to sell, approximately six weeks after my mother had attended the conference, Dr. Cooper was looking for property to buy. Now, Dr. Cooper was pretty new in practice at the time. I knew of him and the book he’d written about aerobics, of course, but it gave me a little concern that he was biting off more than he could chew. But it was Dr. Cooper my mother wanted to sell to, and she had absolute confidence in him. My mother loved him like a son.

Since selling the property to Dr. Cooper, mom prayed daily for her next 36 years that all who walked these “hallowed grounds” would be blessed in special ways.

Dr. Cooper made your mother a promise. What was it?

Larry: Dr. Cooper promised he’d preserve the land and wildlife and keep it intact—a promise he kept through all these years, 100%. He promised to keep the already built estate on the property and the emblem with my family’s initials on the chimney of the house. Since the very start, Dr. Cooper was like a member of our family.

The Nichols family initials on the chimney of the house.
The Nichols family initials on the chimney of the house.

“The emblem remains on the chimney of the house today and is a constant reminder of one man’s love for his home and for his family, and of another great man’s love, respect and sensitivity for tradition long past.” – Mrs. Clarice Nichols, 1990s

I’m over 80 years old now and I’m still enjoying the land. I love to walk around the track. I love to go down to the pond. I love seeing the pecan trees and crepe myrtles I used to help care for. It’s all so similar to the way things were when I was a child that it’s like going back in time.

I believe the good Lord held the property until Dr. Cooper could buy it and I’m just so thankful he did.

Dr. Cooper and Mrs. Nichols at the 30th anniversary gala, 2000.
Dr. Kenneth H. Cooper and Mrs. Clarice Nichols at the 30th anniversary Cooper Aerobics gala, 2000.

Managing Your Daily Stress

Stress can overcome our lives in an instant. From things like work to raising a family and everything in between, stress and anxieties can easily build up. One way to help relieve pain within the body and reduce stress is Muscle Activation Techniques® (MAT). Paige Cervantes, Cooper Spa MAT Specialist, shares her personal story, thoughts on dealing with stress and how MAT sessions have helped her clients relieve some of the built-up tension, aches and pains that come along with life.

MAT as a Stress Reliever

MAT is a hands-on therapy used to reduce pain by pinpointing weak points in the muscles and joints, increasing range of motion and finding the root of the problem. “When someone gets on my table, they have to be an active participant in what I do. This is not necessarily a feel-good massage in the moment because we are working on strengthening the muscles, but many patients feel pain relief well before the one-hour session ends,” says Cervantes.

MAT can be effective for individuals with previous injuries related to work, exercise and more, and on those who have general aches and pains. Not being able to manage this pain can cause stress and anxiety in everyday life. Cervantes has found that “often, the root of the problem is entirely different than where the pain is located. I’ve had people come in with knee problems and then found imbalances in their feet. When I can pinpoint the main cause of the pain, then I can help individuals manage it which alleviates stress.”

De-Stress Techniques

Identifying techniques to de-stress and fit your lifestyle can be challenging. Every person is going to relax in different ways and just because a massage works for someone else, that doesn’t mean it will work for you. The trick is to try different stress-relief techniques to see what works for you and your schedule. With a background in massage therapy, personal training and MAT, Cervantes has found a variety of ways to deal with stress, many of which she implements into her own life.

Massage can be an ideal way to relax. A Swedish massage is recommended because less pressure is used compared to other techniques. This massage encourages your muscles to relax and release built-up tension by manipulating the muscles and soft tissue, reducing physical stress.

Exercise is an extremely effective way to relieve stress and anxiety. Anything to get you moving, such as going to a yoga class, can help calm your inner anxiety and provide a good stretch. Activities including walking, running and strength training can help you release your emotions. When you physically exert yourself, you may feel a sense of relief and it can help lower the anxiety and stress you are dealing with.  

Talk to people. Share with your friends or family what is causing you stress. They may be able to ease some of that with words of encouragement or advice. Surrounding yourself with people you enjoy being around can boost your mood and help get your mind off your stressors for a little bit.

Create a stress jar. Find a small jar and label it—for example, no stress zone, stress jar, all my stresses. Anytime you feel anxiety or stress, write a note about it and stick it in the jar, almost as if you are giving it away and releasing it from your life. Although this doesn’t fix the thing you are stressing about, it is symbolic of letting it go and taking a small break from thinking about it.

Sometimes our stress is bigger than ourselves. Taking a step back and focusing on the good in life can help alleviate anxiety and stress-ridden thoughts. “I’m a cancer survivor” says Cervantes. “That was a really stressful time in my life. I didn’t know if I would get to see my kids grow up or my daughter get married. I had this overwhelming feeling of stress and anxiety that consumed my life. I had to step back and realize my disease was out of my control. It was bigger than me. I spent a lot of time praying and relying on God to help me find a way out of it. Realizing I couldn’t change what was happening in my life and fully embracing the life I had been given pulled me out of a dark place and woke me up again. I’ve been cancer-free for 23 years now and I try not to let everyday stress get the best of me.”

Whether it’s having a massage, exercising, focusing on your faith or creating a stress jar, finding something that eases your mind and reduces your stress can be extremely beneficial. Letting stress overcome your life can affect you physically and mentally if you don’t find an outlet. Stress is a normal, inevitable part of life but finding ways to ease your mind, let go and relax can help bring peace to your day.

To schedule a MAT appointment or purchase a Cooper Spa gift card, email dallas@cooperspa.com or call 972.392.7729.

Academy Of Nutrition and Dietetics: Celebrate a World of Flavors During National Nutrition Month®

In March, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics focuses attention on healthful eating through National Nutrition Month®. This year’s theme, Celebrate a World of Flavors, embraces global cultures, cuisines and inclusivity, plus highlights the expertise of registered dietitian nutritionists. “The theme Celebrate a World of Flavors gives every culture a place at the table,” said registered dietitian nutritionist Libby Mills, a national spokesperson for the Academy in Philadelphia, Pa. “Celebrating the cultural heritage, traditions and recipes from all people is a tasty way to nourish ourselves, learn about one another and find appreciation in our diversity.”

Many of us enjoy cuisines from other nationalities and cultures. In celebration of National Nutrition Month, our Cooper Clinic Nutrition department encourages you to try new foods from around the world to explore new flavors, textures, and aromas. Instead of ordering your go-to favorites, try a new dish full of new foods. Some ethnic foods gaining popularity are ancient grains used in Middle Eastern such as bulgur and quinoa and African cultures such as teff and freekeh. Fermented food’s popularity is also on the rise such as Kimchi, a Korean fermented cabbage dish; Miso, a fermented Japanese staple; and Kefir, a popular Middle-eastern beverage, which have all been shown to have health benefits. Instead of eating favorite standbys like Mexican food, consider branching out to other Central and South American cuisines such as Salvadoran, Chilean and Cuban foods. Consider a more plant-based approach by using tofu, tempeh, seitan or more beans and peas to replace meat, fish and poultry in your diet.

Herbs and spices from around the world are a great way to explore flavors. For example, a curry in Indian dishes differs greatly from curry in a Thai dish, and both cuisines offer several types of curries. For some herbs and spices, a little goes a long way, so if you are not sure how much to use or which dish to season.

Try a variety of spices from different cuisines for great new flavors:

  • Asian – garlic, ginger, cumin, coriander, cilantro, Chinese five-spices powder, chili, Thai basil, mint and lemon grass paste
  • Mexican – chili, cumin, garlic, green chilies, chipotle chilies, jalapenos cilantro, oregano and epizote
  • Italian – garlic, oregano, basil, sage, thyme and marjoram
  • Indian spices – cloves, red chili powder, cumin, coriander, cilantro, garam masala, mustard seeds, curry powder or paste, turmeric, saffron
  • Mediterranean – thyme, basil, parsley, oregano, rosemary, marjoram, fennel, mint, cumin, cinnamon, cardamom

What makes registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs) so valuable to people’s quest for good health? RDNs help clients fine-tune traditional recipes and provide alternative cooking methods and other healthful advice for incorporating family-favorite foods into everyday meals. During National Nutrition Month®, the Academy encourages everyone to make informed food choices and develop sound eating and physical activity habits they can follow all year long. The Academy encourages seeking the advice of registered dietitian nutritionists—the food and nutrition experts who can help develop individualized eating and activity plans to meet people’s health goals. “Celebrate a World of Flavors highlights the unique, cultural variety of foods available to people from around the world and the role that dietitians play in helping clients create healthy habits while celebrating their cultural foods and heritage,” said registered dietitian nutritionist Rahaf Al Bochi, a national spokesperson for the Academy in Atlanta, Ga.

National Nutrition Month® was initiated in 1973 as National Nutrition Week, and it became a month-long observance in 1980 in response to growing interest in nutrition. The second Wednesday of March is Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Day, an annual celebration of the dedication of RDNs as the leading advocates for advancing the nutritional status of Americans and people around the world.

We at Cooper Clinic Nutrition wish you a fun and healthy National Nutrition Month and encourage you to treat your tastebuds to new and delicious flavors. To schedule a one-on-one nutrition consultation or learn more about Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services, visit cooperclinicnutrition.com or call 972.560.2655. 

Want To Slow Down the Aging Process?

February 8, 2022 Leave a comment

Get the inside story on nutrition for anti-aging benefits from Cooper Clinic Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Meridan Zerner, MS, RDN, CSSD, LD, CWC.

We all want to age gracefully and look young, and there are plenty of beauty creams and serums on the market that claim to help us do just that. And while tackling anti-aging from the outside in is helpful…it’s from the inside out where we get the most impact! The real secret to anti-aging is to nourish your body with adequate sleep, hydration, moderate movement and of course, a healthy diet.

Push the plant power

The research is clear that eating more fruits and vegetables is the safest and healthiest way to reduce fine lines and increase overall health. That aligns with one of the newer anti-aging/anti-inflammatory food trends—the plant-based diet.

A plant-based diet simply encourages replacing some of the traditional animal products with more fruits and vegetables—but also adding nuts, seeds, oils, whole grains, legumes and beans. It doesn’t mean you have to become a vegetarian or never eat meat. The emphasis with a plant-based diet is on increasing the powerhouse foods rich in vitamins, fiber and antioxidants. A Mediterranean diet is a version of a plant-based diet with the addition of healthful, fatty fish such as trout, tuna and salmon.

Salmon to slow dementia

Salmon is my go-to fish to increase your omega-3s. Every cell in your body needs omega-3s, especially the eyes and brain. Omega-3s are critical for brain function and can help prevent dementia. Omega-3s also support stronger immune function, digestion and fertility. And healthy fats are good for our hair and skin, too! In general, our bodies do well with a variety of food choices, so I invite my clients to try many types of seafood including anchovies, sardines, crab and shrimp—whether fresh or frozen. Frozen seafood keeps for a long time and is a convenient, equally nutritious way to go. Feel free to utilize pouch tuna and salmon if you like. 

Collagen to combat aging

You might be wondering, “What about collagen supplements?” The use of collagen as an anti-aging tool has become a hot topic. Collagen is a protein found in the skin, joints and other parts of the body. As we get older, we start losing collagen in our bodies. In our skin, the loss of collagen shows up as wrinkles and sagging. In our joints, collagen loss can mean breakdown that opens the door to injury. Collagen has been studied to modestly improve the joint pain and flexibility in osteoarthritis. Collagen supplementation can be a win for both but speak to your doctor or dietitian to make sure that the form or dosage is right for you.

Sips for a more youthful you

Every year, there are products that make the “new and trendy” list for anti-aging. Recently you may have heard about more people consuming matcha green tea, golden milk or reishi tea.

  • Matcha – a type of green tea made by taking young tea leaves and grinding them into a bright green powder
  • Golden milk – a bright yellow drink traditionally made with milk (or a milk alternative) along with turmeric and other spices, such as cinnamon and ginger
  • Reishi tea – made from rare reishi mushrooms and could actually be harmful for some people.

Just because it’s trendy doesn’t mean it is right for you. It is always wise to check with your health care provider first.

The bottom line? If you want to turn back the clock, there is no substitute for a healthy diet. By lavishing your body with the care, nutrients and sleep it needs, you’ll slow down aging from the inside out.

To schedule a one-on-one nutrition consultation or learn more about Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services, visit cooperclinicnutrition.com or call 972.560.2655.