New business changes space in Marion Masonic Lodge
MARION — For Acushnet-raised and now Marion-based physical therapist Russell Benoit, following his passion meant creating a model for a type of therapy that he had never seen: a facility devoted to personal training for adults aged 50 to 100+.
Benoit has been a physical therapist for 21 years, and is an associate professor at the New England Institute of Technology in Rhode Island. But his passion has always been working with older adults.
This January, Benoit decided to turn that passion into a new business with his wife, Brigette, who works as the bookeeper. The two found the space for the business at the Pythagorean Lodge on Spring Street, in the space formerly occupied by The Drawing Room.
“There’s really no place for people over the age of 50 if they want to train. They don’t know what to do in a gym. If someone has a hip replacement or injury or condition I can train those folks specifically,” Russell said, to explain the concept for his business.
Or, his wife added, traditional gyms and trainers “may not be addressing the specific exercises that will help [older trainees] keep functioning well.”
The goal of the program is to help seniors age better, whether that be keeping active in sports they love, being able to travel or tackling specific tasks that challenge them. The work the seniors do with Russell could also work to prevent injuries.
“I want to help them keep living as opposed to just being alive,” Russell explained. The two call their clients age Defiers because they refuse to be defined by their age.
He gets to know clients through a physical assessment and works one on one with them to develop personalized training for their needs. These trainings are usually private, but Russ also offers semi-private sessions for clients and caregivers or groups.
Blinds in the lodge’s windows also “offer [clients] privacy if they are a little insecure,” Brigette said. As another option, Russell is also willing to go to clients’ homes for trainings.
Russell said he picked Marion as a location both because the lodge is handicap accessible and has handicap bathrooms and because his goals align well with the town’s goals on aging.
He also had strong support from the Masons, who he said also believed in his goals.
“Marion is fantastic,” Russell said. He added that because 30 percent of the town is over the age of 65, and in ten years that population will be 40 percent,“The town itself has the goal of helping people age in place. When you put it all together it seemed like the perfect place.”
His wife added that “if we can help [seniors] to be able to stay in their homes they don’t have to think about other options.”
The Benoits offer private tours of the new facility, set up through their website, agedefied.com. They will also offer open houses on July 11 from 8 to 10 a.m., July 15 from noon to 1 p.m. and July 17 from 4 to 6 p.m.