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Meet Devera: The "Plank-Master!"

This year, I've chosen to spotlight some of the remarkable individuals I have the privilege of working with! To kick off this series, allow me to introduce you to my longest-running client. Once my neighbor in Brooklyn, she was my first ever hybrid client, showing interest in both fitness and Feldenkrais. Take a moment to marvel at her impressive plank time below! Meet Devera!

Can you tell everyone a little about yourself? (Name, age, where you live…)

Devera Witkin, 81 years old, married 40 years, from Bay Area, CA, moved to NYC 22 years ago, finally settled for good in Brooklyn, NY 7 years ago.  

Can you briefly describe your experience with exercise and fitness and any goals you had in mind when you started working with Liz?

I have had many short term experiences with different gyms and trainers since I first started physical exercise at the age of 43!  I also learned how to play tennis and ski around the same time.  Many injuries followed, despite regular exercise.  When I first started with Liz, it had been about 8 years or so since I last had a personal trainer.  I definitely had in mind to prolong my life, by gaining enough strength and stamina to age in a manner where I could be active for many years to come.  

Were there any specific methods or strategies Liz used while working with you? 

Liz is the very best at praise!  This has been a prime motivator for me.  In addition, for one who has never been goal oriented, Liz has been consistent in helping me set goals for myself every year of the 6 years we’ve been working together.  And that’s another method of Liz’s – she works with me and I work with her.  It’s not a one-sided thing.  

How do you feel your experience with Liz has impacted your overall fitness journey? 

I’m definitely “fit for life”.  For the first time in my life, I see myself as continuing on this fitness journey for the rest of my life.  

Can you share any significant progress or milestones you achieved while working with Liz?

The BIG ONE:  holding a plank for 4 minutes, when my husband who works out daily, could only do 2 minutes!  There is no question I am much stronger than when I began, can easily do “the big boy stuff”, like deadlifts and deep squats. 

Is there anything else you’d like to share or any advice you have for others?

One of the major advantages of having Liz in my life is the fact that she’s a certified Feldenkrais practitioner.  I had been a faithful Feldenkrais client when we lived in California, so I knew what a gentle methodology it is for aligning our bodies.  I was one of Liz’s first clients and it is something I do with her once a week.  In the past, physical therapy did not help with a shoulder joint which caused me great pain, and was in need of a total shoulder replacement.  Over the course of a few months, Liz used her excellent skills as at Feldenkrais practitioner to gradually work on my shoulder, building up both strength and movement.   Later, my shoulder has been pain-free and I have about 90% mobility.  No surgery for me.

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