As the founder and CEO of Vivo, I left corporate America after more than 25 years of working in technology and running software companies to try to positively impact people’s lives and make a difference in the world.
As I witnessed the decline in quality of life of my own parents as they were getting older, I realized I wanted to better understand the aging process and help them. I discovered that as we age, we naturally lose muscle mass which is a primary contributor to a reduced quality of life and loss of independence, as well as leading to numerous age-related maladies such as falls, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, and more. However, consistently engaging in a strength training program reverses age-related muscle loss and is the number one factor in maintaining a high quality of life and independence as we age.
This knowledge is at the heart of why I started Vivo – to create awareness and a safe, engaging, and impactful program to guide older adults to a better life.
I have always had a passion and interest in exercise and working with older adults, even from a very young age. As a little girl, I would accompany my mom as she led older adults in aerobics and strength training, and it ingrained in me the value of movement with age. That passion drove me to pursue a career in gerontology, achieving a BA in exercise science, a master’s in nutrition, and serving as a postdoctoral scholar at Duke University’s Aging Center.
As part of my career path, I had the unique opportunity to work with older adults at the world-renowned Cooper Wellness Center, founded by the “father” of aerobics, Kenneth H. Cooper. In that experience, I developed fitness programs tailored to adults with a range of conditions, including osteoporosis, Parkinson’s disease, and fibromyalgia. All of this experience has led me to join Vivo, a program that I believe in so strongly. In my role and through ongoing assessments, I see first-hand the vast improvements in our clients’ mobility, strength, and quality of life. As a medical professional, I know the science behind our program works, and as a human being, I see the difference it is making in our client’s lives.
My goal is to profoundly change the lives of my clients and I see the transformations happening every day. I have been a personal trainer for more than 10 years after I discovered how fitness benefitted both my physical and mental wellbeing. My passion for training led me to achieve multiple certifications and specializations in physical training and corrective exercise. My belief is that fitness is so much more than just feeling good or being physically strong – it is the key to living an enriched life with greater happiness.
As we age, we become more prone to muscle loss and injury, but it is never too late in life to achieve greater degrees of health, mobility, and energy. I use my expertise in corrective exercise and rehabilitation to help Vivo clients regain their independence, recover from injuries, and build their strength using exercise plans that are customizable to every individual.
Nutrition is a union of all the things I love and care about, from my longtime interest in science to helping older adults identify their nutrition barriers and managing this important aspect of their lives. I have always had an enthusiasm for learning how the body works and how food can impact our health and wellbeing. That enthusiasm led me to earning a Master of Science in Human Nutrition and serving as a Research Dietitian Clinician at Duke University Medical Center, where I specialize in senior health.
I feel very fortunate to be able to apply my expertise through the Vivo program. I believe older adults deserve access to high-level, quality advice and information to help them establish and maintain healthy food and exercise habits. In my assessments and ongoing nutrition support for Team Vivo members, together we address questions, meal planning assistance, and more. I like to consider myself an accountability partner to Vivo clients, working side-by-side to achieve a higher quality of life at any age.
I always had a passion for learning and understanding as much as I could about human movement science and exercise physiology. In college studied Sports Medicine and eventually worked as an Athletic Trainer in the NFL. These initial experiences allowed me to develop a holistic understanding of the exercise and rehabilitation sciences, as well as strength and conditioning fundamentals. While these experiences were both challenging and gratifying, I eagerly wanted to translate the skills and knowledge gained during my academic and professional experiences to populations with disability. As such, for the last decade, I been applying skill set to improving physical function in older adults with mobility disability and/or neurological diseases, including Parkinson’s disease, mild cognitive impairment, Alzheimer’s disease and stroke.
In line with my continued passion for exercise as THE best medicine, I currently serve as the Director of exercise programs that oversee and collaborates on projects aimed to understand mechanisms of exercise on improved brain health and physical function. Our work has been funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Veterans Affairs. I am honored that this and similar work has resulted in noteworthy publications being featured in top journals including Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, Experimental Gerontology, Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Brain Imaging and Behavior, and the Journal of American Heart Association. My work has also been recognized by the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Georgia Radio Reading Service, Public Broadcasting Service, and FOX5 news.
I am passionate about fitness and older adults. I am an Associate Professor in the Department of Kinesiology at the University of San Francisco, an affiliate researcher in Neurology at UCSF Medical Center, and the owner of Thompson Fitness Solutions, LLC. I have published scientific articles on exercise programming for older adults in peer-reviewed journals such as Translational Journal of the ACSM, Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, Journal of Aging and Physical Activity, and Journal of Applied Research.
I have been delivering balance training and fall risk reduction exercise programs to thousands of older San Franciscans since 2007 in the city-wide Always Active program (www.alwaysactive.org). My professional service includes sitting on the advisory board of Vivo, the Medical Fitness Education Foundation and the Functional Aging Institute. I also serve as editor for the Translational Journal of the American College of Sports Medicine and the ACSM Health Fitness Journal. I have also been the Chair of ACSM’s Interest Group on Aging, and a member of ACSM’s Health & Fitness Summit Planning Committee.
I am a member of the newly formed AgeWell Collective as well as a featured author of continuing education courses hosted by PTontheNet, the Medical Fitness Network and the PTA Global certification program. I also developed educational content for IDEA, the National Academy of Sports Medicine, TRX Training, and the American College of Sports Medicine and have written for numerous lay and industry publications such as the ACSM Health Fitness Journal, IDEA Fitness Journal, San Francisco Chronicle, Cleveland Clinic Health Newsletter, Arthritis Advisor, and GOLF Magazine.