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Guare keeps on fighting for fitness

Guare keeps on fighting for fitness

'You are the weight, you are the machine, and that allows you to take your workout wherever you go'
Guare keeps on fighting for fitness
Peter Guare, right and inset, shows Janet Levine some stretching exercises at Human HyperFormance Center in Glenville last week.
Photographer: Bill Buell

Spend more than just a few minutes talking with Peter Guare, and you find yourself trying to remember all the insightful and educational things he's shared with you.

"While I'm willing to work hard, I hate working harder than I have to," said Guare, owner of the Human HyperFormance Center on Saratoga Road in Glenville.

Here's some more.

"You don't get stronger in the gym. You get stronger when you recover from being in the gym."

"I learned to think outside the box, and while there's a lot of junk outside the box, there's also a lot of good stuff."

"We are our primary health care providers. Not our doctor, not our pharmacist, not our physical therapist."

A 67-year-old Scotia native, Guare has been telling people to take control of their lives since 2005 when he opened up the Human HyperFormance Center on Saratoga Road, first at the Skyway Plaza and then later a bit further north in Socha Plaza. He is not, however, your average fitness guru. Diagnosed at 25 with Reiter's Syndrome (now called reactive arthritis), Guare struggled for years with the disease and in 2002 it forced him to retire as a teacher's aide and a highly-successful boys and girls track coach at Scotia-Glenville High School.

"I had some major flareups over time but the last major one was in 2002 and that's when I retired in my early 40s," said Guare, who also played with a rock n' roll band right after high school called, the Suspects. "The disease eventually fused my spine and destroyed most of the cartilage in my body."

Guare battled the disease by hitting the books, just like he had done as an outstanding student at Union College. A psychology major, he was winner of the John Lewis March Award in Psychology in 1974, "given to a senior who has shown increased interest and ability in psychology during the final two years of college." Guare, also selected for membership into Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Society, studied the disease and dug into ways of fighting it.

He feels like he was fighting a losing battle until he stumbled across Ki-Hara Resistance Stretching, developed in the Phoenix area more than 20 years ago by fitness trainers Steve Sierra and Anne Tierney.

"When it got to the point where I thought I was fighting a losing battle, I knew it was time to do something different," said Guare. "When I got the last major flareup in 2002 I was basically a sick, 85-year-old man. I didn't want to have my liver tested every two weeks to see how much damage all the drugs I had been taking were doing. So I had to look outside the box. I found a book on resistance stretching and at first I thought, 'hey this hurts, but it helps, too.' I started feeling better, I saw that they had a certification class in Connecuticut, so I went down there and kind of got sucked into the whole thing."

Guare says that his willingness to look closely at Ki-Hara Resistance Stretching changed his life. Perhaps, it even saved his life.

"If it wasn't for resistance stretching I'd be on drugs," said Guare. "I might be reasonably OK, but not anywhere near as functional as I am now. I might also be dead. One of the side effects of all the drugs you take is increased risk of cancer because they suppress your immune system.

"In a way, this disease forced me to start taking care of myself," continued Guare. "I would have done what everyone else does and just gone to the doctor. When I went to Connecticut I learned some powerful concepts. One of them is that our pain is often muscle weakness. Our body is talking to our brain all the time. It thinks the brain is its best friend. But we tend to ignore our bodies because we have more important things to do, and then our body says, 'you're not going to ignore this.'"

At first glance, Guare doesn't look like your ordinary fitness expert. There is a stiffness about him due to the complications of his disease, but upon further and closer inspection what you see is a pretty fit 67-year-old.

"I am pretty ripped, and it's because all the exercises I do are core exercises," said Guare. "In this system you stretch the muscle to the full range of motion, and that protects the joint. In this system you decide what is appropriate for you. You are in charge, and don't worry about getting everything right the first time. When I first started this I said to myself, 'dude, you don't know what you're doing.' Well, if you're not screwing up once in a while you're not trying hard enough. I learned to trust my intuition."

One of the best aspects of resistance stretching according to Guare is that it is inexpensive.

"You are the weight, you are the machine, and that allows you to take your workout wherever you go," said Guare. "You are your own workout machine. In normal weight training, you have the weight generating resistance, and you have to overcome the force. In Ki-Hara, you have to generate the resistance and the force to overcome it. That's why it's so effective."

All you need, says Guare, is the desire to step up and take control.

"Pharmaceutical interventions are not a cure for lifestyle issues," he said. "Lifestyle changes are a cure for lifestyle issues. We don't like taking ownership for our lifestyle issues. But when you decide to become an active participant in your wellness and fitness, than this system sells itself."

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