Bressler, Amery & Ross Forms Senior Issues Group to Address Baby Boomer Financial Issues

“For years, the financial industry has grappled with how to best protect seniors and vulnerable adults from exploitation,” said Richard C. Szuch, a principal at the firm who is helping spearhead the new group. “The aim of the group is to help our corporate clients deal with these issues.”

The Senior Issues Group lawyers have a shared interest in providing counsel to corporate clients who confront issues affecting seniors. They design programs to help clients prevent and detect the exploitation of seniors and avoid regulatory and litigation risk, including drafting supervisory and compliance procedures; preparing and conducting training programs; advising on reporting obligations and regulatory filings; and defending claims in litigation, wherever they may arise.

The new Senior Issues Group includes 21 attorneys drawn from Bressler’s insurance, securities, and estate planning and administration practice areas. Attorneys in the group work out of the firm’s offices in New Jersey, New York, Miami and Fort Lauderdale, Florida and Birmingham, Alabama.

Recently, Bressler completed a 50 state survey of regulations pertaining to seniors and vulnerable investors. As the laws in the 50 states are rapidly evolving, this survey is updated monthly. To view the survey, go to

“About 10,000 baby boomers will turn 65 each day for the next twelve years. With such numbers, it should be no surprise that financial exploitation costs ‘seniors’ and the financial services industry billions of dollars annually,” added Mr. Szuch, who focuses most of his practice on defending clients in the financial services sector.

Bressler’s Managing Principal, Brian Amery, said the new group is a natural outgrowth of the firm’s work in the financial services and wealth management areas. “We want to help our financial services clients navigate the transition of their baby boomer clients to aging seniors, and in the process allow them to avoid problems of financial exploitation.”

The group also provides advice on estate planning issues affecting seniors, such as identifying estate and tax strategies for seniors of varying wealth levels and ways to address a client’s current or potential incapacity.

For more information on the overall new Senior Issues Group, go to

About Bressler, Amery & Ross, P.C.

Bressler, Amery & Ross, P.C. is a leading full-service law firm that represents Fortune 500 corporations, midsize, and small privately held companies, brokerage firms, banks, franchises, insurers and non-profits. The firm also represents emerging companies, high-net-worth individuals and families. The firm’s main practices include securities, insurance, employment, and business litigation, including dispute resolution and tax. A NLJ350 firm and NJLJ Top 20 firm, Bressler has more than 175 attorneys in Florham Park, NJ; New York, NY; Birmingham, AL; Ft. Lauderdale and Miami, FL; and Washington, DC. For more information, visit


Andrew Blum, AJB Communications
917-783-1680, [email protected]

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Did The Baby Boomers Ruin America?

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“Since the Boomers’ ascension to power, America has accomplished far too little, and in many important ways, has slid backward.”

“The difference between what is and what could have been is substantially the product of Boomer mismanagement and selfishness. … Their collective, pathological self-interest derailed a long train of progress, while exacerbating and ignoring existential threats like climate change.”

“As a generation, the Boomers present as distinctly sociopathic, displaying antisocial tendencies to a greater extent than their parents and their children.”

OK, I get it: My generation sucks. Venture capitalist Bruce Cannon Gibney spares no venom in his recent, data-laden indictment, “A Generation of Sociopaths: How the Baby Boomers Betrayed America.” Gen X’er Gibney argues in his book that the key driver of American failure is not ideological so much as generational.

The Baby Boomers — swaddled in affluence, morally and cognitively stunted by bottle-feeding (really — read the book), permissive parenting, and the boob tube — embraced it’s-all-about-me politics once we came to dominate the electorate in the early 1980s. It’s been downhill ever since, as we punted on national problems except when they affected our personal interests.

And so: our public works are rotting, our entitlement programs will cosset us Boomers while our progeny stagger under the bills, our planet continues to warm unsustainably, and other neglected problems pile up (including the pitfalls of artificial intelligence, which Boomers will ignore “so long as Amazon’s neural networks continue to improve the timely delivery of Depends.”)

… our current Boomer leaders, including the president and vice president, are poster boys for the book’s argument.

That line captures Gibney’s engagingly fun style, even as he heaps deadly serious blame. “Not all Boomers are sociopaths, and not all of them deserve to be condemned,” he writes. “But many Boomers do behave sociopathically, and as a generation, their management has been disastrous and needs to be terminated.”

By “terminated,” he’s not suggesting you sign do-not-resuscitate orders for your Boomer parents at Happy Acres. Rather, he’s counting on the natural evolution of the electorate. This year’s midterm elections mark the first time that more Millennials will be eligible to vote than Boomers, though whether they’ll take advantage of that fact is an open question.

Gibney focuses on the economic consequences of Boomers’ dominion, which is fair enough, as his generation got left holding the bag. But that focus skates over how we might have bettered the world in other areas, from medical advancements by Boomer researchers to Boomer President Bill Clinton’s intervention against ethnic cleansing in the 1990s.

Yet what stands out about Gibney’s book, ultimately, is its conventionality.

The economic problems he spies, and his solutions for them, are neither novel nor unreasonable. He merely wraps his analysis in deliberately provocative branding that pins the State of the Union on a generational mental illness, going so far as to consult the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders for criteria of sociopathy.

You can disagree with his view of Boomers — the Pew Research Center finds Millennials have a higher opinion of us than does Gibney — but he’s indisputably right in his conclusions: Our infrastructure has gone from best in the world to lousy. Entitlements, particularly Medicare, do need shoring up. Inequality is plundering younger Americans of the prosperity Boomers enjoyed. Only fools dismiss the scientific consensus that we must address climate change. Taxes and spending must be jiggered to address these challenges.

(And yes, for some geriatric Boomers, Amazon’s Depends delivery might add sunshine to a cloudy day.)

While not everyone born in the two decades after World War II is a sociopathic jerk, our current Boomer leaders, including the president and vice president, are poster boys for the book’s argument.

As Millennials, Gen Xers, and Boomers with a social conscience confront this hangover of neglect, they should learn from Boomer experience and tread with humility. Boomers have always been a holier-than-thou bunch. I recall a 1990s news story noting that, as children, we looked contemptuously at our parents’ gas-guzzling station wagons and swore we’d drive greener vehicles.

Ask your local SUV dealer how that turned out.

Our comeuppance at Gibney’s hands suggests that every generation, freighted with human frailty, will be haunted by the disapproval of the generation to come. Boomers’ parents, the so-called Greatest Generation, admirably conquered the Depression and fascism, but their children found them less enlightened about things like racial justice, making the civil rights movement necessary.

Remember King Lear’s lament: “How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is to have a thankless child.” Even in Shakespeare’s day, they knew all about the generation gap.

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Hey, Millennials: Do you know how to make your voices heard? | Hood County News

The Millennial generation now outnumbers Baby Boomers, but Boomers are calling the shots in government because they turn out to the polls at a rate of 60 percent compared to 20 percent for Millennials, according to the Hood County Democratic Party. The obvious way to fix that disparity, of course, is for more young people to vote. A blog post on the Hood County Democratic Party’s website, titled “A Guide to Voting in Texas,” explains in detail how to become an active voter.

How the ‘Baby Boomer’ Label Can Lead to Discrimination

New research finds aging people are treated more fairly if they are identified as older workers rather than Baby Boomers.


Many labels come with stereotypes attached, and applying them can influence how a specific individual is viewed, and treated. While these harmful labels are often based on race or religion, new research identifies a different large group of Americans who are surprisingly subject to being stigmatized: Baby Boomers.

Millenials, Baby Boomers Changing Suburban Living

NATOMAS — Take a look at master planned communities that are selling homes in the area, and you will see plenty of homes like these — dwellings sitting cheek by jowl with small or nonexistent yards in the back and the front. That’s because builders are struggling to make houses affordable while making a profit.

“The land’s very, very expensive, honestly builders have to pop up the density a little bit sometimes to make it work,” said Dean Wehrli, senior vice president of John Burns Real Estate Consulting.

Wehrli helps developers and builders create master planned communities which substitute private yard space with public spaces like parks and community centers. And it’s not just about economics. The huge population of baby boomers who are now empty nesters are still affecting the marketplace.

“Some of those older buyers, they don’t want the yard, they want the lower-maintenance kind of home, Wehrli said.

The Hovnanian Homes in the Westshore planned community in Natomas, are roomy on the inside, but they just have a patio — no yard. With millennials holding off on raising families, a yard isn’t always a priority.

“It’s for that get together with your friends, not the big backyard barbecue with the whole neighborhood,” Wehrli said.

If you look at housing in the urban core, homes without yards are the norm. Entertainment isn’t dependent on outdoor space.

“They’re going to meet their friends at the club or the bar or something like that in midtown,” Wehrli said.

It’s getting that way in the newer suburbs too. John Burns Real Estate Consulting has coined the word “surban.” Your big barbecue or outdoor sports can still take place, but in master planned parks and community centers.

“They can provide that public outdoor space in lieu of that private outdoor space that the high density product can’t always deliver or doesn’t want to deliver,” Wehrli said.

And of course this kind of housing is a draw for Bay Area residents who never had a yard and little indoor space.

“They live in a hovel with no yard for ($1.5 million),” he said.

Homes with yards will always be a draw, in the Hovnanian development, homes with yards are part of the mix for families that are growing.

But the definition of a suburban home is likely to change as home and land prices continue to climb in California.

John Burns Real Estate Consulting is a nationwide company that recently put out a list of the 50 hottest master planned communities. The development in Natomas and one in Roseville made the list, so the region is definitely following the national trend.


Millennials will soon dethrone boomers as largest voting bloc

Dave Andersen sees a significant political shift on the horizon as millennials surpass baby boomers as the largest voting generation.

Millennials already outnumber boomers, but because the younger generation is less likely to vote, it won’t top boomers at the polls until the 2020 election, said Andersen, an assistant professor of at Iowa State University. Baby boomers have dominated political issues for the past 40 years and fundamentally are a different generation in many ways, Andersen said.

While tend to be more conservative and reliably vote for Republicans, are the exact opposite. Andersen, who studies voter behavior and sentiment, says party demographics reinforce this split between generations, and he sees little political interest from boomers in millennials and their issues. The decision to repeal – an issue that Andersen says means very little to the Republican base, but is the equivalent of killing clean water for millennials – is one example.

“Young people don’t pay as much attention to politics, but net neutrality is the kind of issue that gets people’s attention,” Andersen said. “This is a little thing that could take a group, largely considered to be liberal and more likely to be Democratic, but not politically connected, and push it firmly into the Democratic camp.”

However, certain entitlement programs may be an exception. Andersen says it is possible millennials will align with Republicans to overhaul Social Security and Medicare – programs Republicans have indicated they will tackle in early 2018, following the passage of the GOP tax plan. Millennials have been told not to expect Social Security and Medicare to be solvent when they retire, which is why they may support a repeal, he said.

That support would likely hinge upon plans for some form of replacement program. Millennials are the first in American history expected to have a lower quality of life than their parents, Andersen said. Because of high college debt and stagnant wages, millennials are delaying marriage, putting off buying homes and not saving for retirement.

“Not many millennials expect to retire. They do not have savings accounts, retirement plans or jobs that give them a pension. If society doesn’t provide some kind of entitlement, millennials feel that they may never retire,” Andersen said. “So they may work with Republicans to repeal Social Security, but work with Democrats to replace it with something they can depend on.”

Explore further:
Millennials favor Facebook for US political news: study

Baby boomers’ failing ears drive search for a cure for hearing loss

Baby boomers grew up with music blasting from dorm room turntables, car stereos, and arenas where the sound of a band at full throttle could rival the roar of a jet engine. Volume became an act of generational defiance. As rocker Ted Nugent put it: “If it’s too loud, you’re too old.”

Turns out, it was too loud. Millions of boomers are now grappling with hearing loss — some of it caused by turning the volume to 11 — prompting companies to develop treatments that improve upon the expensive and often limited-value hearing aids and surgical implants that have been around for decades.

At least half a dozen biotechs, including two well-funded local startups, are working on potential breakthroughs in the way hearing loss is treated. But it’s unclear if the drugs they’re developing will be ready in time to help hearing-impaired boomers, some of whom are in their seventies.

“It would be wonderful if we could restore the inner ear to its native condition by targeting specific cells with the right treatment,” said Dr. Bradley Welling, a neurotologic surgeon at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary in Boston. “We’re getting closer, and the tools are improving all the time.”

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Hearing loss is more prevalent than ever, Welling said, because people are living longer. It affects nearly 50 million Americans and about 360 million people worldwide, according to the World Health Organization.

But help may be on the way. Frequency Therapeutics Inc., a two-year-old Woburn company, has raised $32 million from private investors and venture capital firms to back its effort to activate so-called progenitor cells that can repair damage in the spiral cavity of the inner ear by generating new hair cells.

“There’s a fundamental transformation happening in hearing regeneration,” said David Lucchino, chief executive of Frequency. “We’re figuring out how to hot-wire the hair cells in the inner ear that die off during a lifetime of being exposed to noise.”

So far, however, drugs have not supplanted sound-amplifying hearing aids because scientists have been slow to understand the molecular basis of hearing loss, said Steven Holtzman, chief executive of Decibel Therapeutics Inc. in Boston.

Decibel, founded in 2015, has raised almost $57 million from investors led by Third Rock Ventures, one of the nation’s top bankrollers of biotechs. The startup is looking for ways to identify specific genetic targets for patients suffering from a variety of hearing disorders. “We’re at the point now where we can crack open the biology,” Holtzman said. “We have the audacity to believe that we’re going to build the soup-to-nuts hearing loss company.”

Welling, 61, shared the experience of many in his generation. He recalls being a teenager growing up in Utah and listening to Led Zeppelin at a friend’s home. It was loud enough to make “our clothes vibrate,” he said. “It sounded like a flying saucer coming down on us.”

But Jimmy Page and company don’t deserve all the blame for their fans’ deafness. In addition to ear-piercing noise — from concerts, factories, or construction sites — hearing loss often is the result of disease or a congenital defect. In the majority of cases, Welling said, age is a key factor, exacerbating whatever damage was done years earlier.

Modern technology, too, presents hearing dangers at least as formidable as a pair of JBL speakers pushed into overdrive by a Black Sabbath record. Think of people tuned into their favorite songs via a Bluetooth connection while doing yardwork. “Biology never planned for people blowing leaves and listening to music on their ear buds at the same time,” said Lucchino.

Many boomers say deteriorating hearing can lead to social isolation. They are often overwhelmed by background noise at restaurants or feel left out of family conversations.

Those who already wear hearing aids face tough choices as it gets more difficult for them to hear. Some opt for electronic devices called cochlear implants that stimulate auditory nerves but sometimes cause loss of patients’ remaining natural hearing. Others are waiting for still-unproven experimental treatments that promise to reverse hearing loss by repairing inner-ear nerve damage.

Researchers are looking into ways to deliver hearing-restoration drugs to patients who already have cochlear implants, or to administer them through implants. But it’s too soon to tell whether either of those techniques will be feasible.

“I’m taking a long-term view,” said Brookline resident Richard Wichmann, who wears hearing aids. “They’re working on restoring nerve connections in the ear. I’m hoping to hold out until that’s available.”

Wichmann, 59, suffers from a common condition known as tinnitus, which causes ringing in his ears. He said he sometimes misunderstands what his colleagues are saying during meetings at Cambridge Health Alliance, where he works as chief revenue officer. “I tend to lag behind in conversation,” he said, “because I’m trying to figure out what people are saying. It takes a lot of focus.”

Retired software company employee Sally Kozlowski, 69, who spent years at work talking on the phone with a headset, misses being able to listen to Christmas music clearly while baking for the holidays at her home in New London, N.H. Last March, she went to Mass. Eye and Ear for a cochlear implant in her left ear, a surgical procedure that took five hours.

While the implant has improved her quality of life in some ways, Kozlowski said, she is still disappointed by the lack of clarity. Kozlowski still uses a hearing aid in her right ear, but may have to decide in the next few years whether to get a cochlear implant for that ear as well. “If there was another way to go, I’d consider it,” she said.

The hearing loss drug candidates from Decibel, Frequency, and other companies such as Swiss biopharma giant Novartis AG are in various stages of development and use a range of approaches — from regenerative medicine, which seeks to engineer new human cells, to a gene-silencing technology called RNA interference to one-time gene therapy treatments that replace defective genes in the ear with healthy ones. All face regulatory hurdles, and company executives won’t speculate how soon they might be on the market.

But the field has been buoyed by some recent high-profile milestones. Late last month, Frequency, which uses technology discovered by noted Cambridge scientists Bob Langer and Jeff Karp, posted encouraging findings from a study involving nine adults in Australia. The company said the study showed its technique of injecting its lead experimental drug into patients’ ears is safe. But further studies will be needed to prove the drug is effective.

The founders of Decibel, which hasn’t yet identified its lead drug candidate, include researchers from Harvard Medical School, Johns Hopkins University, and the University of Michigan. In November, the company formed a partnership that allows it to tap the scientific expertise of Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. of Tarrytown, N.Y., one of the largest US biotechs. Under the deal, Regeneron took an unspecified stake in Decibel, but the Boston biotech retains all commercial rights to its drugs.

“Right now in this space there’s a lot of innovation,” said Barbara Kelley, executive director of the Hearing Loss Association of America, a patient advocacy group in Washington. “If they come up with something that can cure or prevent hearing loss, we’re all for it.”

The drug development activity in the Boston area and elsewhere is “very exciting,” said Peggy Ellertsen, 70, a retired speech pathologist from Newton who sits on the hearing loss association’s board. “There are amazing scientists and they’re doing great work. I think a lot of people would be interested in the possibility of a drug therapy.”

Despite her upbeat tone, Ellertsen, a new grandmother, said she expects to look into the possibility of getting cochlear implants later this year. In part, that’s because she’s not sure when new treatments will be available.

“The first thing I do in the morning is put on my hearing aids,” Ellertsen said. “I want to be able to hear my grandson when he starts talking.”

Robert Weisman can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeRobW.

Baby boomers can reduce heart failure if they start exercising, research shows


January 09, 2018 00:42:09

New Australian research has found middle-aged people who are unfit can reduce or even reverse their risk of heart failure if they start exercising regularly.

Key points:

  • Participants who stuck to exercising regularly had reduced cardiac stiffness
  • Participants did 150 minutes of exercise a week
  • Terry Lonergan started doing group fitness after having a heart attack

Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute researcher Dr Erin Howden said after two years, participants who stuck to regular sessions of aerobic exercise had significant improvements in how their body utilised oxygen and reduced cardiac stiffness, both of which are markers of a healthier heart.

“We’ve also found that the ‘sweet spot’ in life to get off the couch and start regular exercise is in late-middle age when the heart still has plasticity, and this applies to people right around the world, including Australia,” she said.

In the study, published in the journal Circulation, a group of men and women aged 45-64 were put on an exercise regime where frequency, duration and intensity increased over time.

Researchers from the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute found exercising at a high or moderate intensity for two years could reverse the effects of being sedentary on the heart.

“By varying the duration, intensity and type of training over the course of the week, the training was not onerous, with excellent adherence [by participants] to the training sessions,” she said.

The baby boomers did 150 minutes of exercise per week, plus sessions of high-intensity interval training, which has been shown to be good for burning fat.

One man’s journey from heart attack to gym junkie

The turning point for Terry Lonergan to change his life happened when he was being put in an ambulance after having a heart attack.

“The terror of having a heart attack at 47 and seeing my son watching me being loaded into the ambulance was what changed everything for me,” he said.

At the time, he weighed 130 kilograms and said he knew his health was deteriorating.

“I knew things needed to change,” he said.

“I could barely walk one kilometre without becoming breathless. But I stuck at it.”

He started doing group fitness classes, starting off once a week, then building up more and more.

Now he is a fitness instructor, inspiring others to stay healthy.

“I feel great. I feel fantastic,” he said.

He is now down to around 85 kilograms and does not miss a day exercising.








Millennials Aren’t ‘Spoiled’ And Have It Tough Thanks To Boomers, Writer Says : NPR

Highline writer Michael Hobbes says millennials have inherited a number of financial problems from baby boomers.

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Highline writer Michael Hobbes says millennials have inherited a number of financial problems from baby boomers.

monkeybusinessimages/Getty Images/iStockphoto

If you hear the word “millennial” and immediately think of an entitled 20-something, scrolling through Instagram and munching on avocado toast — Michael Hobbes wants to have a word with you.

“There’s really very little evidence that millennials are any more spoiled or any more entitled than any generation of young people that came before,” he says. “But there is a mountain of evidence that things are objectively harder for us.”

Hobbes wrote about the challenges his generation faces in a December article for Highline, a long-form publication from The Huffington Post. Its headline, “Millennials Are Screwed,” caught our attention. Hobbes spoke with NPR’s Lulu Garcia-Navarro about his pessimistic prediction, how Baby Boomers are involved and what the millennial generation needs to do to reverse course.

Interview Highlights

On how millennials have it hard

Healthcare, housing and education are more than five times more expensive than they were for our parents. There are fewer steady jobs. Wages have stagnated since the 1970s. I mean, I can go on and on and on. And so its weird that we’re constantly talking about how millennials should do this differently, and millennials should do that differently. But we don’t talk that much about, hey, the country around us can do some things differently, too.

On the paradigm shifts that have led to millennials’ financial challenges

The first one is work has become much lower quality, basically — that there’s fewer decent jobs now. Many of the jobs that are available are contingent work or sort of have been farmed out to contractors. Many fewer jobs provide things like pension, benefits or health care these days.

The second big paradigm shift was this whole idea of personal responsibility — that to get any help from the government, you really have to earn it. And so, starting in the 1980s, we started looking really, really, really closely at, what are welfare beneficiaries doing to earn their benefits? Meanwhile, of course, the boomer generation protected, very fiercely, their own benefits, right? So people over 65 have socialized medicine, and they get free money every month. Meanwhile, anybody under 65, there’s almost no benefits available anymore. And the only benefits that are available are only available to people that have full-time work — things like unemployment benefits or the Earned Income Tax Credit.

The third paradigm shift is around housing. If you want a high-skilled, high-paying job, you really have to move to San Francisco, Chicago, New York, Boston — one of these areas. But housing costs have gotten so high in those cities, that it really swallows up any higher wages that you earn when you get there.

On how some millennials are well off, with the group controlling about $2 trillion in liquid assets and looking forward to wealth transfers from parents

I think there are millennials that are doing fine. I think that when you talk about wealth transfer, what’s really interesting is Americans over 62 are 80 percent white. And so, when you look at these wealth transfers, white millennials are five times more likely to receive an inheritance than millennials of color. Forty-five percent of millennials are non-white. That’s going to exacerbate inequality within the millennial generation.

And so we’re already seeing this, where cities are becoming concentrations of wealth. Cities have better social services, better hospitals, better schools. And it’s only the kids whose white parents can get them into those engines of opportunity, that are able to access those better services.

On the responsibility of the millennial generation

Well, I think there’s a lot of anger from a lot of these people, especially who graduated during the recession. And so what we really need to do is channel that anger into systemic improvements to our situation … you think about welfare, for example. I mean, we talk a little bit about something like universal benefits or these kind of new forms of welfare. And we need to put these things in place. It’s not impossible. Most other countries have this. A lot of it comes down to voting, but millennial turnout is very variable depending on the state. In some places, it’s as low as 30 percent, and in some places, it’s as high as 70 percent.

So what that really means is that there are procedures that keep us from voting, and we need to reform those and make it a lot easier for young people to vote. There’s tons and tons and tons of systemic things that we can start doing and kind of unraveling everything that’s happened in the last five decades.

NPR’s Isabel Dobrin produced this story for the Web.

Stretching studios reach out to weekend warriors, baby boomers, athletes

Two bicycle crashes put Kent Weisner, 75, in the hands of orthopedic surgeons and physical therapists, but he remained stiff and in pain.

An active person who wasn’t ready to accept limitations on his skiing, bicycle riding or walking, Weisner found his way to assisted stretching — an old concept with a new business twist — and he says he hasn’t felt this good in a long time.

“I was so angry at not having a normal life again,” said Weisner, a retired software developer who lives in Belle Isle and still rides his bike. “What’s nice about this is immediately after you get stretched like this, you feel a lot stronger — because you are.”

Assisted-stretch studios have been popping up nationwide for a couple of years, including in Central Florida. Most promise a more active lifestyle, better health and posture and a more youthful feeling.

Weisner goes to The Stretching Room in College Park, a nearly 3-year-old business true to its name.

Clients lie on padding on the floor in the one-room studio as practitioners Elina Nubaryan and Greg Liessner gently, but firmly, pull and push their limbs this way and that while the clients resist.

On a recent visit, Nubaryan also sat above Weisner on a stool and kneaded his right hip and chest with her feet.

The businesses advertise their services for everyone — a chain called Stretch Zone boasts musician Lenny Kravitz, actor George Hamilton, NBA player Dwyane Wade and Pro Football Hall of Famer Jim Brown as clients — but most of The Stretching Room’s clients are in their mid-50s to mid-70s, Nubaryan said.

Stretch Zone, thought to be the largest stretch chain in the country, has expanded quickly in Central Florida since it opened its first studio here in Windermere in November 2016.

Founded in 2004 in South Florida, it now has shops in Lake Mary and Oviedo. It plans to open soon at Lee Road and U.S. Highway 17-92 in Winter Park.

Each business offers a technique, usually patented, that it claims is superior. Massage Envy, for example, uses something it calls the “Streto Method” that it says relaxes the mind and body.

“The assisted stretching is a whole different experience than when you’re in yoga or you’re stretching yourself,” said Fred Morrill, an operations director for Stretch Zone. “It feels great. It’s just really relaxing. You feel lighter, taller and younger.”

It’s too soon to know whether the trend will stick — think Tae Bo, step and Dancercise.

To their business advantage, stretch studios require little equipment or room. But they also offer only one service and can see a limited number of clients daily, with sessions running 30 to 90 minutes each.

The target market is a higher-income client, Morrill said. Stretch Zone offers memberships from $79 monthly to unlimited visits for $279 each month. The Stretching Room charges $200 per 90-minute visit.

The practice is not considered therapy and is not covered by insurance.

Erik Olsson, wellness coordinator at the downtown Orlando YMCA, said trainers for years have been doing a version of what’s being called “assisted stretching.” The technical term is “proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation.”

The “assisted” part can come from a partner, elastic bands or specially designed stretching machines. Olsson cautioned that it’s important to learn from someone who can show the proper technique — how to push slowly one way, wait, push the opposite way and then push the first way again — to avoid injury.

“You want an experienced trainer to check your form,” Olsson said. “Anybody can force you into a deep stretch, but that doesn’t mean you’d be doing it correctly.”

No specific licensing or accreditation is necessary to become a stretch practitioner, although the businesses say their employees are knowledgeable and trained. Some offer their own certifications.

“It doesn’t have the recognition,” Nubaryan of The Stretching Room said. “Hopefully, it will come.”

Patrick Pabian, program director in the doctor of physical therapy program at University of Central Florida, agrees that stretching increases mobility, and that’s positive.

But he cautions that someone without enough education could injure muscles, tendons, joints, spinal disks or nerves. He said he’d feel more comfortable if stretch practitioners had rigorous educational requirements through an accredited program and were certified by a regional or national body.

“It’s the hands-on portion that gives me pause, especially when they’re going to the limits of soft-tissue mobility,” said Pabian, a board-certified orthopedic and sports specialist and peer reviewer for national journals. “The person needs to be well-trained.”

[email protected] or 407-540-5981