Fiona Judd is Training for Longevity 

Here's why you should be, too.

Staff Writer
Staff Writer
 min read
May 17, 2024

There’s no wrong reason to work out. Whether you hit the gym to keep your body in shape, to improve your mental health, or just because you “know it’s good for you,” we’re here for whatever gets you moving. But there’s one reason that most of us don’t think about when we exercise that we really should be considering, and that’s longevity. 

Study after study continually proves how beneficial exercise is not just for extending our lives, but for improving the quality of it as we age. And while exercise of any kind boosts your long-term health, if longevity is your focus, there are a few specific things to prioritize, according to trainer Fiona Judd

The mom of five recently sat down with Headlines to talk about training for longevity, and why our workout routines should focus on more than just what our muscles look like. 

The keys to long-term health  

When asked about training for longevity, Judd emphasizes that this is something she prioritizes in her training. “We lose a little bit of muscle mass every year after our 30s,” she begins. “We want to make sure that we’re strength training to maintain – and even gain – muscle as we age. Strength training is going to be number one for me” Judd says, recommending her clients hit the weights two to three times a week for best results. 

“It’s not like you have to go to the gym and lift weights for an hour,” Judd clarifies. “It’s just a little bit every week.” 

While every muscle group is important, Judd specifically calls out the core as an important (and often overlooked) muscle group to pay attention to.

“We essentially have three major parts to our core. We have our rectus abdominis – that’s the six-pack part of your core that’s visible from the outside. We have our obliques, which are the side abs and are also very visible. You do have internal obliques, but when you think of obliques, you typically think of those outside muscles. And then the third piece is your transverse abdominis, which is your deepest layer of core muscles. They look very different because we can’t see them from the outside. A lot of times, people don’t really know what they look like. It [your deep core] very much looks like a corset, and there are these muscles that just wrap around your entire core from the back to front,” the trainer explains. 

“They are the most important muscles for stabilizing and supporting your spine and your pelvis. This is essential for any type of movement that you’re doing, and also for aging because as you age, you start to kind of lose balance a little bit. You lose some of that muscle strength and tone, and you’re more prone to falls when you don’t have a strong core.” 

Judd continues, explaining that “training deep core, even though it’s not the sexiest part of your core, is what you want to be doing for longevity, and just overall health and fitness. I’m such a fan of moves that require you to engage your deep core and think of tightening that corset – especially for postpartum moms. Doing deep core exercises will help to improve your overall strength in your core, your balance, your stamina, and your functional fitness. Core training helps every single move that you do in fitness because really in every single move, you’re using your core. It’s like your powerhouse. I’m super passionate about that, and just making sure that we’re training our core in a balanced way just like we would train everything else. So we’re not heavily focused on six-pack only or oblique-only training but on the entire core.” 

After strength training, Judd says that flexibility and mobility come in second on her list of ways to train for longevity. “Those are also things that we start to lose as we age, and my favorite way is barre and Pilates. I’m not a yogi, and I do very little yoga because it’s just not something that I’ve ever fallen in love with, but I love barre and Pilates. They really help me to maintain my mobility and flexibility, so you’ll find a lot more of that on my app. But I do have some yoga -- with a fantastic and experienced guest instructor -- because I know some people really love it.” 

Once you’ve tackled strength training, flexibility, and mobility, Judd says that focusing on functional training (like balance training) and cardio both play an important role in training for longevity.  

Images courtesy of Fiona Judd

When it comes to cardio, the trainer says “it can be low impact,” and notes that she doesn’t “really do any high impact cardio” herself anymore. 

“I stick to walking. I’m on the bike, or I’m doing HIIT training with dumbbells,” she says. “I’m not jumping; I’m just getting my heart rate up through lighter weights and big ranges of motion. There’s a format I have on my app called Pumped Up Strength where we’re doing combinations of strength training. So we’re doing lower and upper body together, and people who are simply focused on building muscle mass will tell you to never do that. But I think there’s a benefit to cross-training with compound strength movements and figuring out how to move dynamically. At the same time, you’re getting a great cardio workout.” 

Judd acknowledges that it “sounds like a lot,” but when it’s laid out correctly, “it’s really easy to get it all done.” 

“Most of my workouts are anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes,” she specifies, noting that working out for longevity doesn’t mean you need to be at the gym for hours and hours. “This is something you can just fit into your busy schedule.”

More than our bodies 

When training, even with longevity in mind, it can be easy to zero in on what our bodies look like, but Judd reminds us to pull that focus back a bit, instead looking at what our bodies can do for us through our lifetime. 

“I have this amazing body, and I live in such an amazing place, and there’s so much beauty to enjoy. I want to maximize that, so I want to be strong. I want to be able to carry my [hiking] pack. I want to be able to hike five miles without getting tired,” she says of why she trains for longevity.

“I have a lot of clients who play sports. They’re outside. They’re doing pickleball or tennis or they just want to go to the pool with their kids. They want to be able to get in the water and play with their kids. They just want to feel strong.” 

Judd says that she’s much “more about what we want to do rather than what our body looks like, or what we look like in a tank top or what we look like in a swimsuit. That’s so 1990s,” she laughs. 

“That’s the message I was getting as a child. I just turned 40 – why have we not come away from that message yet?” Judd questions, asking why, although it has made strides in the right direction, the health and wellness industry still places so much emphasis on what a body looks like versus how it feels and what it can do. 

“I have this amazing body, and I live in such an amazing place, and there’s so much beauty to enjoy. I want to maximize that, so I want to be strong. I want to be able to carry my [hiking] pack. I want to be able to hike five miles without getting tired."

“We are so much more than our bodies,” Judd says. “We have all these facets to us and we are strong, and we want to be active and not have to feel like we have to look a certain way. That’s my whole approach,’ she continues. 

“When I have clients tell me, ‘I was able to go up the stairs today and I didn’t get tired,’ those are the real victories. I care about how you feel. Do you feel stronger? Do you feel healthier? Do you feel more energy? Those are the most important things.”

Training your mind

In addition to training your body to function well into your 40s, 50s, 60s, and beyond, Judd says that it’s also important to train your mind. 

“Our motivation will come and go, and that’s very normal,” she says of finding the desire to work out over the course of decades. “We can’t always rely on motivation to help us reach our goals. Eventually, we’re going to burn out or we’re going to feel like we don’t want to do it anymore.” 

Judd says that one of the things she works on with her clients is establishing healthy habits like a routine. “Your workout becomes almost a non-negotiable.” 

“That’s not to say you can’t take breaks when you need to, because I believe in recovery, but I also do feel that when something becomes a habit, it becomes so much easier to just check it off and there’s not as much effort required in getting it done.” 

Whether you’re just starting your fitness journey in your teens or early 20s, or you’ve been hitting the weights for decades, turning exercise into a habit is something that will benefit both your mind and body for years to come. 

Want more from Fiona Judd? Follow her @fitfionaj or check out her training programs here.  

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