Allon Kirshner is a certified cardio-therapist @ Shari Tzedek hospital in Jerusalem.
How did you start doing this work, and what makes you enjoy this?
“It all started about 45 years ago in Memphis, Tennessee. I was 14 years old at the time. But back then, in our small Jewish community, I was short, scrawny and a bit of a “wimp” – an easy target for bullies in the neighborhood. One day I picked up a body-building magazine and it was a revelation for me. It was in the early 1960’s and body builders were really the very first health nuts in the world, And, in one of these body-building magazines it said…“Don’t smoke (this was not a popular idea in 1968, before the Surgeon General pronounced the connection with lung cancer, etc.). It also said, ‘Don’t eat sugar or white flour! Avoid table salt!’
Amazingly, this made sense to even a 14 year old boy. These articles also explained the importance of certain exercises and I began to work out. Later, I studied exercise physiology in college. I then joined the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) army where I served for 2 1/2 years, then went back to Memphis to work in my family’s business. In 1987, I returned to Israel with my wife and three children.”
What have you done in the fitness field since you made aliyah?
“I opened Olympia Gym in Jerusalem which I operated for eight years. Later, I became a manager of at the Maale HaHamisha Spa for seven years. I then was the first manager of the Hebrew University Lerner Indoor Sports Complex. After six years there, I began managing the Shaare Zedek Heart Wellness and Preventative Medicine Center. I am now approaching my tenth year at the center.”
What are your goals in training people?
“I believe my role is both in prevention and guiding people back to health after a heart attack or stroke. In each case I take blood tests and evaluate the patient’s need for healthy lifestyle intervention. My goal is to teach people that they are responsible for their own health.
Patients come to the center twice a week for an hour each time for about a year. We believe that with this quality-of-life training that they can be successful in making lifestyle changes.”
Allon endorses the importance of regular exercise and eating right.
“I am a strong believer that every person from the age of 25 and up should have a complete blood test, because it’s a ‘Health Lie-detector.’ It must include their blood pressure, lipids, cholesterol, triglycerides, sugar, glucose, A1c hemoglobin especially for children to detect early possible diabetes, and Vitamin D levels.
Vitamin D is one of the most important vitamins of the 21st century. Along with B12, folic acid, magnesium – these are the foundation legs of our “Health Table” to stand strong in our lives. When people do this earlier in their lives, they can actually prevent a lot of potential health problems.”
Allon is dedicated to teaching people how to get well, and then what to do afterwords to maintain health. He fervently believes that “People can achieve this with good quality workouts twice a week and being smart about how they eat!”