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Holly’s Fitness Friday

January 11, 2013


Hi everyone and happy Friday! What a exciting week we’ve had here. The building has been packed with New Year’s folks looking to resolve to be a more fit person. We had snow covered hills in our park on Wednesday. And also after a press release this week my client Willa and I were interviewed by Fox 12 and Koin 6 News! Many of you know Willa and how amazing she is and it was only a mater of time before the whole city wanted a chance to see this inspiring woman in action! She is a young 93 and getting stronger everyday with her determination to complete challenging exercises. As we all continue to strive and reach our daily fitness goals we can keep Willa in mind as a great motivational tool. I like to think “If Willa can do it, so can we.” next time you’re feeling like skipping a workout think to the future and about your quality of life. I can only hope to be half as fit and able as Willa. :) 

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend! I’ll see you around the gym!

SWCC’s Own Fitness Inspiration is Spreading Across Portland!

January 10, 2013


SWCC’s very own inspiration, Willa, has been working with Holly for the past 5 years. We’re so happy that her story is making its way across our great city. Look for her story on KPTV and KOIN 6 news and read the full article from below. A big thank you to both Willa and Holly for inspiring us all to work a little harder!


93-Year-Old Woman Maintains Independence with Portland Parks & Recreation Personal Trainer

(Portland,OR) –

Willa Asbjornsen told her daughter she didn’t need to be in an assisted-living community. The 88 year-old wanted to move back home.

But Allison Asbjornsen was concerned about her aging mother’s ability to care for herself. The two women agreed to a compromise: Willa could move back home – if she worked out with a personal trainer to improve her strength and balance to ensure she was fit enough to care for herself.

Five years later, the now 93-year-old Willa is still living at home and thriving, thanks in part to Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) personal trainer Holly Howard, based at Southwest Community Center. The pair is a shining example of how PP&R can help enhance the quality of life for people of all ages.

“Willa is remarkable. I like to say that everyone falls in awe with her!” says Howard. “Willa has gotten more confident and has a great attitude. At first I think she felt like she HAD to be there with me. Now she eagerly embraces our sessions!”

Willa and Holly work on exercises essential for doing everyday tasks; reaching, standing, sitting, and more. The 93-year-old client says she’s delighted she can confidently sit, stand, and reach, and can improve her wellness without even the use of weights or machines.

“Holly is very inventive about finding exercises I can do. At the same time she urges me on through exercises I initially balk at,” says Willa. “And soon I find I can do them! I live in an area that’s very hilly, and I find that now it’s easier to climb the hills than it was before. Bending over is easier than it used to be. She keeps finding new exercises so it doesn’t get boring.”

Holly incorporates a weighted medicine ball in Willa’s workouts, along with modified push-ups, pull-ups, dumbbells, and other functional balance and strength exercises. Her goal is to make the sessions fun for the 93-year-old, as well as to produce results that enable Willa to maintain her strength, mobility, and flexibility.

“A lot of things I’ve learned from Holly I can do at home too, and I really like that,” says Willa. “She takes care to spot me during exercises. When I was growing up, women were never encouraged to be athletic. But even without an athletic background I’ve been able to do all this – even at my age!”

Willa and her trainer, Holly, have maintained their life-enhancing partnership for five years and counting. They work together two to three times a week, and Willa exercises solo as well.

“She’s very conscious of her body image, even at 93,” remarks Holly. She gets her hair done regularly, and wants to have a skinnier stomach! Willa is an inspiration, maintaining her current quality of living while being ready for whatever life brings her tomorrow.”

Portland Parks & Recreation has personal training, group exercise classes, fitness centers and pools available at community centers across the city. For more info please go to

About Willa Asbjornsen

Willa was born in Portland in 1919 and is a member of McMinnville High School’s class of 1937. She earned a degree from Oregon State University in 1941 and then (in her forties) went on to earn her masters in physiology from the University of Portland.

Earning this degree allowed her to teach a training class for social workers at Mt. Hood Community College.

Once Willa retired from teaching in her sixties, she began to backpack around the world, staying in hostels with only a single duffle bag.

While on her travels she visited Africa, Southeast Asia, India, and Turkey. During this time she ventured into the Himalayas, reaching a peak elevation of 16,000 feet.

About Holly Howard

Holly is a Personal Trainer, Group Exercise Instructor, and Gym Supervisor at Portland Parks & Recreation’sSouthwestCommunity Center. She is a lifelong Portlander, married to her high-school sweetheart Justin. They are “parents” to a rescued dog, Oreo, and two cats.

Holly says she weighed close to 220 pounds in high school, but decided to make a change in her life at the end of her junior year.

“I opened my eyes to a world of eating that didn’t involve processed foods, fast foods, or soda pop,” she says. “I began thinking about where my nutrition was coming from, prompting me to eat more fruits, veggies, and lean meats.”

While continuing to eat healthy, Holly rediscovered the gym with a good friend.

“I loved the feeling I got after I accomplished a challenging routine,” she remembers.

Holly pursued a degree atPortlandCommunity Collegeand began interning at Southwest Community Center (SWCC). The enamored staff then offered Holly her current position at SWCC, which she has enjoyed for five years.

Holly teaches five days a week and says she is always open to taking on new clients.

Holly’s Fitness Friday

January 4, 2013


Hi everyone and Happy Friday. I hope you all are enjoying the new year. New Year’s Eve we ended the year with a rockin 90 minute workout. The studio was filled windows to walls with sweaty group fitness enthusiasts looking to end their year with a bang. If you didn’t end your fitness year on a high note now is the time to start a new! It’s a new year and we have a clean slate. It’s time to find your inner athlete and make your fitness goals a reality. Let us all resolve to be more fabulous this year than last. I’ll see you in the gym!;)

Holly’s Fitness Friday

December 28, 2012


Happy last Friday of 2012! It’s been busy in the fitness center this week with people trying to combat the holiday sweets and stay one step ahead of the New Year. Make sure you join me Monday to get a jump start on your New Year resolution with Cardi-Party from 10-11:30 am!

90 Minute Zumba Dance Party Friday 12/28!

December 27, 2012

farewell to 2012 dance party

Holly’s Fitness Friday

December 21, 2012


Hi everyone! Happy Friday and Happy Holidays! I hope your seasonal festivities have been filled with loved ones and great joy. Fitness can take a back burner this time of year so it is important to make it a priority. Get it done first thing in the morning. It can be quick and simple. All it takes is about 30 minutes a day of a heart pumping good time to stay at your healthiest this holiday season. Let us all get a jump on our New Year’s resolutions by maintaining our exercise regimen through the end of the year. Be sure to end the year right with me on the 31st at 10 am for SWCC’s 90 minute “Cardi Party!” We will be sweating it up with lots of floor cardio and total body strength training! I will see you there! Thanks for reading and have a great weekend and a Merry Christmas!

NYE Cardi-Party!

December 18, 2012

Cardi-Party blog ad


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