Trainer helps clients get back to fitness

Personal trainer Debbie Serban focuses on getting clients back to their “healthy place.” (courtesy photo)

Trainer helps clients get back to fitness

While the season to achieve a “summer body” has ended, there is never an off-season for maintaining health and wellness. Personal trainer Debbie Serban, a local resident, has an extensive background in health education and nutritional management. Most of her clients range between ages 40 and 80, but her oldest is 96.

Debbie’s Tips: Checking your balance
Balance is key in keeping yourself safe from falling, especially as you age. Do each position while looking straight ahead, and hold for at least 20 seconds.
1. Stand with fee parallel, side by side touching.
2. Stand with one foot in front of the other, toes of back foot touching heels of front foot.
3. Stand holding one foot off the ground.
Repeat above positions with eyes closed. Hold for at least 20 seconds. Don’t worry if you didn’t quite make it. To fix, simply practice!

“Many of my clients previously led healthy lifestyles and were active prior to big life change such as kids, an injury, a surgery or disability,” Serban said. “I focus on getting them back to that healthy place, for them and their families.”

Serban is originally from Bakersfield but moved to San Diego to attend college. After receiving her Bachelor of Science degree in therapeutic recreation and a Master of Science degree in rehabilitation, she spent several years working in the area of rehabilitation and community integration. Serban has trained a variety of clients for marathons. She has also helped clients with rehabilitating from cancer, injuries, illnesses and surgeries.

The challenges of maintaining a healthy lifestyle after a certain age become more prominent, but according to Serban, there’s never a good enough excuse to push away goals.

“We are all accountable to someone in our lives, a personal trainer is just one example,” Serban said. “After 40, we lose muscle mass, so maintaining progress is key.”

Serban’s sessions offer something different for every client, but she maintains her element of education in everything she does.

“I pride myself in creating options for every single client and cater to their needs and lifestyle, such as traveling,” Serban said. “I can give you a prix fixe menu of workouts or you can take them a la carte.”

As a personal trainer, Serban frequently encounters misconceptions and myths about health and fitness. She considers herself to be data-driven, and thus strives to clarify trends, diets and the requirements for sufficient exercise.

“Both older men and women tend to believe that walking is enough, but with age, our bodies change and so our workouts must change as well,” Serban said. “I also get a lot of people who believe the scale is the ultimate guide to what their body is.”

For Serban, the scale is a misnomer. She prefers to use a portable scanning device called the InBody Analyzer which separates muscle, fat, water and bone. She uses the results, which are 98 percent accurate in comparison to the medical procedure DEXA Scan, to design workouts around what the client’s goal is.

“Seeing the results for a client from the InBody Analyzer is one of the most rewarding parts of my job,” Serban said.

For now, Serban wants to focus on expanding her Serra Mesa gym to be a fully-functional personal training gym, and eventually integrate the use of video chat to reach those who may not be able to physically attend her sessions. Serban is also expecting an influx of older clients with the expansion of The Glen in Scripps Ranch.

To learn more about Debbie Serban, her services and workshops, visit

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