by: STAFF PHOTOS: VERN UYETAKE - Alisa Mallinger is dedicated to helping each client achieve their fitness goals. She specializes in training peri-menopausal women.

Lake Oswego fitness coach Alisa Mallinger may not have access to the Fountain of Youth, but she does have a suggestion for those wishing to slow the aging process: Start exercising.

The message came through loud and clear when Mallinger heard movie actress Jane Fonda speak at a fitness seminar she attended earlier this year. Fonda, herself a former fitness instructor and who at age 70-plus is in excellent shape, advised the attendees that they needed to rethink their methods when training older athletes.

“She told the group ‘you can’t train me like you would a 20-year-old,’” Mallinger said. “You have to be super-warm before you exercise.” She explained that ligaments, tendons, muscles and bones have all changed over the years.

Mallinger, a certified personal trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine, has a master’s degree in exercise physiology and cardiac rehab from Northeastern Illinois University. Her first job in the fitness industry was as head of a senior fitness department for the city of Chicago. She had 200 trainers and 7,000 seniors exercising by the time she and her husband moved their family to Oregon. Mallinger took a few years off to raise their children and then opened Aspire Fitness NW in her garage about two years ago.

“Cardio, flexibility, core strength — it all starts with the basics,” she said. “I turned my garage into a fitness center with a focus on fundamentals. I used to be a generalist, having trained kids, men, women of all ages. Within the last six months I have shifted my focus to the age group I most relate to, the perimenopausal client. Menopausal women’s training needs are very different from other age groups.”

Mallinger said that strength training becomes even more important because of loss of muscle mass and bone mineral density, slower metabolism, slower recovery times and mid-belly weight gain.

“I think strength training becomes even more important as we go through menopause, and it can be confusing navigating through the gym or taking classes with a large group of people and only one instructor that can’t focus on your specific needs,” Mallinger said. “I am using a new phase system, a five-step process, to really make certain their bodies are prepared to strength train to prevent injury to tendons, ligaments and muscles.”

She evaluates clients on an individual basis and tailors workouts to their abilities and goals. Hourlong group boot camp classes, limited to eight clients, are held Monday through Thursday at 9:30 a.m. Mallinger recommends clients attend two sessions each week. One-on-one sessions can be booked at times convenient to the client and coach.

The feedback she hears from clients is that her gym provides a supportive, personal and motivating environment.

Mallinger is designing an online group training site for perimenopausal women who are too busy to get to the gym or who wish to exercise at home with instruction from a knowledgeable source.

“Let me help motivate you to be the healthiest you can be,” Mallinger said. “I love doing this. I do this because it’s my passion.”

To learn more about Aspire Fitness NW, visit, or call Mallinger at 503-784-4641.

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