July 20 .2021

Aging Well: Iron-pumping grandmas say working out keeps them healthy, happy

Weight training helps people of all ages in Aging Well, but a group of Oahu grandmas is taking it to a new level with a Guinness World Record under their weight belt.  

Tuesday, July 20th 2021, 5:10 PM HST by Diane Ako


Weight training helps people of all ages in Aging Well, but a group of Oahu grandmas is taking it to a new level with a Guinness World Record under their weight belt.  

Three times a week, the ladies of Johnny’s Fitness Ohana start their day with a workout. The group may be made up of mostly seniors, but they are no slouches. Team member Dorothy Sunio describes, “We do kettlebells, core weights, dumbbells and ab work.”

They work out from 6 to 7 a.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at Ala Moana Beach Park, and there is no rest for the weary. They do it online when coach John Sarich is out of town, or when COVID restrictions were in place. 

They are known for their achievement with kettlebell weights. “Our kettlebell women’s group that achieved the Guinness Book of World Records title, lifting the heaviest weight in an hour,” recalls Sunio. “We lifted over 63,000 pounds. Twelve women; 11 of whom are in their 60s and 70s.”

It’s 63,365.9 pounds, to be exact. Breaking a world record was Coach Sarich’s idea.

Team coordinator Lorie Young backgrounds, “He wanted to challenge ourselves and maybe at the same time, break a world record. We did it for him.”

They won, and the record still stands. “We broke the record by 20,000 pounds. It’ll hold for a while,” smiles Young.

The women are proud of that achievement, but say the real reward is health and happiness. “The more you’re active, you feel better. Your energy level is greater, and you have better balance, better flexibility, strength. All of that, as you age as a senior,” testifies Young. 

Sunio adds, “You get camaraderie and meet great friends. And it helps me keep up with my five-year-old grandson.”

It’s a free class and they say you’re welcome to join. Just don’t expect to take it easy.

JAN 1 2021

Hi John,

I would like to say thank you for your time, continued effort you put into the group and making us feel like individuals along the way.

It was very fortunate for me to meet you all that morning on Magic Island, the group has a strong bond which I feel.

Johnny’s Fit O’hana has been the catalyst for my continued fitness with the yearly catch up in Hawaii and then my workouts throughout the year. Having access to your website routines has been good. 

COVID-19 has been devastating dictating a lot of change, one change for my benefit has been the ability to connect with you all by Zoom.

I enjoy participating (even at strange time I join) and have found a higher level of fitness. The 500 KB challenge was certainly a big challenge and for the individual challenge you had us set ourselves mid 2020, I am now confident completing the Dragon-flag. The variety of routines and working on different muscle groups adds to the interest and we benefit from your experience.

I have had an all round benefit: strength, balance, form/skill, muscle mass, definition, endurance, maintaining good health and socialisation. 

In 2021 I would like to build and add a couple of kilograms.

The people who attend are amazing not only for their ability but for the commitment they have in attending and to themselves. I look forward to seeing everyone.

I truely appreciate you and KB family.

Thank you

Peter From Australia

DEC 25

Thank you for keeping us all in tiptop shape this year. Your class has been one of the bright spots in 2020 for me.  Wishing you happiness and good health in 2021. 

DEC 10 2020

Lagoon Drive in the a.m. It may seem weird to be out there, but I actually enjoy the planes and little bit of activity around me. The challenge is always the floor work—no way am I putting towels on the ground out there, so I use the back of my car and its tailgate. Thanks John, for helping me stay fit for so many years! And thanks to the ohana for motivation and friendship! See my phone in the back of my car?

NOV 30


 11/2/20 115.5
 12/1/20 114.5

I lost one pound

Went from 29” to 28”

Other than that, everything stayed the same.

I am pleased with the result.  Diets are not my thing. I eat healthy food, lots of it. Holidays are a time of weight gain. I am happy to have lost a pound instead of gaining a few pounds as I usually do during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.

Thank you for creating November’s interesting challenge. I await your next challenge to begin tomorrow.


NOV 30 2020

Hi John,
I was surprised at how soon we were all able to do the 500 swings. It sounded like an unbelievable challenge, but we were able to accomplish it successfully, maybe by the 2nd week. I enjoyed the challenge!

My clothes feel tighter in the shoulders and arms but I don’t know if it is because of the swings or because of swimming. I started to swim more recently so maybe those two things combined are building shoulder, back, and arm strength.

As you know I tend to strain my groin muscles easily so I may not be able to do all of the squats for our next challenge.  But Looking forward to it anyway.

Thanks for all you do for us!


NOV 30 2020

Hi John

wants to give you feedback on our workouts and what has improved in my life.  I have lost 6-7 lbs this past month.  I have been limiting my carbs to 200 grams per day – cutting out sugars and white bread (cheated on Thanksgiving) ha!  My recent Dr visit showed that my thyroid was low functioning so Dr bumped up my thyroid meds (maybe the reason why I am not losing more weight).  My Dr was really happy that I am doing weight training.  As I mentioned to you earlier this month the “facia clinic Dr” told me I was very flexible….all of the above are due to our consistent training with you.  Thank you, thank you.  No one ever believes that I am 74 yrs old.  I tell folks that it is a lifestyle of working out to keep fit.  I really like the variety that you do.  The hour just flies by…..(except when we r doing the 500 swings) ugh!  So let’s keep it up for the next 10 years. your faithful student Dottie

NOV 30 2020

November Kettlebell challenge PLUS++Improved cardio–I was out of breath at the beginning of the month and it was hard to complete the 500.  I could handle 50 at a time and the 500 was much easier to do by the end of the month weight–I ate and drank whatever I wanted and didn’t gain any weight.I didn’t take measurements but overall am more toned. Several people mentioned I look thinner. Grace

NOV 30 2020

Good morning John La Lianne! 😋 I weigh EXACTLY the same as when I started! I didn’t measure anything- like waist, etc. The only thing I noticed was that the 70 push-ups (35×2) that I normally do was a lot easier! ALSO, my waist hurts today from doing the weights (20.5# x2): bicep curls/hammer curls! THAT was a surprise! Thank you from the bottom of my heart ❤️ for all your generosity in helping us be better day by day! My muscles and I thank you! 🏋️‍♀️ Fay

NOV 30 2020

Dear Papa John:  I haven’t notice much physical difference but I love the challenge – 500 swings @ 16 times = 6,500 swings in the month of November.  I increased my KB weight from 12 to 15# and finished 100%.  Im feeling increased stamina, confidence, mentally toughness and injury free.  Im pleased I was able to complete the swings in addition to enjoying my other activities: hiking @2 weekly; canoe paddling; pickle ball and aqua jogging too.  
I do appreciate your coaching, mentorship, time and effort in whipping me to my BEST shape ever.  Who knew retirement was a good time to dedicate to my well being??  Love the Johnnys fit Ohana boot camp as indicative of my attendance since Sept 2013.  
With much gratitude and appreciation!
Look forward to the NEXT challenge – Bring IT ON!! 

NOV 29 2020

Aloha John, I wanted to share with you my results on completing (almost) the KB Challenge you gave us for November.  I have noticed more muscle definition in my arms and back muscles (Conrad and Donna who I run with have mentioned this to me as well).   I haven’t lost weight, but my measurements are the same and my clothes fit as normal.  

And since the workouts have gotten more challenging, since last November 2019 I have noticed I have better balance plus good muscle definition all over including my stomach muscles which I’ve never seen before in my entire life.  Over the year I have gained 2 lbs but my clothes are still loose on me and I feel I look slimmer.   You’ve made me rethink the old age thing for good – I look at you and think I can be ageless too.   

I can’t thank you enough for making me feel good about myself.

NOV 20. 2020

John,, Thank you.  I lost about 7 pounds since we started doing the kettlebell swings. Aloha, Sharon

NOV 6 2020

Thank you, Johnny. I strained my back surfing and the kettlebell swings really help build up the core muscles to support my back. I really appreciate your generosity and coaching. Hawaii. Love, Alia

Dear John

So hey…..have to share my day today. Happy moments in this time of Covid…I owe them all to you!!

I went to the PO and there were a couple of packages for me, both large boxes…..one was my protein drinks that I order online and the other was from Amazon…..the guy dropped them both on the counter and said, “wow!!! this one is really heavy, what’s in it, bricks???” And I said, “no, it’s my new kettle bell, 25 pounds!!!” When we finished the transaction, he started to say, “do you need help with these boxes?” and then stopped and said, “Nah, I can see you’ve got this…” I would have done my happy dance except my arms were full of boxes. 

Then I went to the grocer and since I had wine in my basket, the guy came over to ask for my ID…..instead he said, “I’m just gonna put in the birth year I think…” and he put in 1975!!! I told him he had made my day!!!! Some days are just better than others!!!! I will be 74 next month

Dear John, 

 I hope you have a wonderful birthday.  Thank you for the gift of health.  I am so inspired by your strength and dedication.  I appreciate how generous you are with your time.  I love how carefully you plan each workout.  
Denby and I talk about our favorite things that you say.  I love how you say, “Mountain Climbers” because it sounds like “mutton climbers” and I think of sheep climbing up a mountain.  Denby loves how you say “grab a drink.”  I would be so out of shape if not for your classes.  Thank you so much for moving to zoom and for making two start times.  I also love hearing your stories about growing up in a Communist country. 
Please continue to stay healthy and safe and we miss you and can’t wait to see you when  you return to Hawaii.  
With Love, Alia

AUG 23 2020

Aloha John, just wanted to let you know how much I am enjoying the workouts you have been giving us.  They are fun and very challenging.  The hour just flies by.  I really feel much stronger now-I have a lot more muscle (my running friends tell me my back muscles are really getting defined-1st time they’ve ever said that).  I like how you encourage us to keep a good pace-get our heart rate up but still maintain our form.  I know this is a lot of work for you and I really do appreciate it.  From talking to the others, they feel the same way.  Everyone is very grateful for the time you give us and the coaching to help us get it right.  And even though we all feel tired at the end, its a good healthy tiredness-very satisfying.


MAY 11 2020

Thank you, John. Now for some unknown reason. My computer is functioning again. I thought it was a battery problem but the battery is up again, fully charged. To finish your workout, I did 100 kettlebell swings. Thank you again for the season and the fun distance birthday party for Dottie. I second what she said. Without your training, I would not have the muscle tone and excellent balance I have today. Best wishes to Diane. 

MAY 1 2020

Hi John,
I would like to individually tell you again how much your training in KB, weights and exercises have meant to me…I love that I can get an exercise that early in the morning just if I can’t fit it in during the day. I appreciate how you “upped the game” with all the new stuff.   And the truth is I have been a member of the YMCA for probably 30 yrs but NEVER could make myself to repeat that we do.  I have often watched the boys do weights and tried to mimic.  And honestly, the Y’s are now charging for individual training.  So thank you loads and look forward to seeing you in 6 months.

March 6, 2019

Sharing a Success Story of Our Dottie

I saw Dr Nakasone this morning and had both knees x-rayed for my 5 yr follow-up from knee replacement.  I made appt a month early because the pain I had in right knee when running two wks ago.  Dr said my replacements look brand new and he expects them to last 20 years! The pain I had was my IT band.  My cartilage looks good on right side of both knees. He said the partial-knee replacements are really successful. (he started to ask me what kinds of things I was able to do…I showed him my squat and he didn’t need to ask me anything else – he was impressed).    I have no restrictions…” keep doing what you are doing.”,the ,my of .  I told him what an impact he has made on my life. He gave me a big hug and said he would see me in 5 years!

Dottie Sunio

Feb  4, 2019


APRIL 17 .18

1. What made you join Johnny’s Fit O’hana?

The opportunity to join an enjoyable group of friends while training to become fit.

2. What did you get from joining the group?

Valuable knowledge of kettlebell and other useful workout resources for strength, cardio and nutrition.

A fantastic Ohana and social atmosphere full of music and humour surrounded by the midst of beautiful outdoor Hawaii.

3. Do you enjoy the workouts?


4. Will you recommend the KB workouts to your friends?

Most definitely!

5. How did the group & KB  help you in your fitness?

Helped in learning correct and incorrect ways to use KB, dumbell and other exercise techniques.  Positive, encouraging energy in our Ohana begins the day on an inspirational note.

6. How satisfied are you with the coaching?

Very satisfied!


APRIL 3 .18

 JUNE 22.16
Dearest Papa John and Amazing Brenda,
It’s been almost two years since that fateful day when we gave Nellie a ride to the North Shore for a wedding.  On that LONG car ride Ms. Always-Has-Something-Good-to-Share-Nellie, issued a life-changing challenge: “Now that you’re retired, why don’t you join our KB class?”   Me? Lift and swing those heavyweights? I’m not sure I could.
But I knew I needed a weight workout to build up my strength and balance.  So I showed up one sunny August morning with my little 5 lb. KB and was warmly welcomed by Brenda and the others in the class. I swung that little ball and struggled to complete maybe half of the reps of every exercise.  For the next two days, I couldn’t bend my arms more than 90 degrees! I was so sore! But I came back to class and haven’t stopped since.
I don’t know how to begin to thank you for all you have done for me.  Because of your selfless and generous sharing of knowledge and talent, your constant encouragement and positive attitudes, as I approach 60, I am the strongest I have ever been in my life.
I know it is due to this class because I don’t do anything else. These workouts are some of the hardest things I’ve ever done and the confidence I’ve gained is empowering. Two years ago,, I couldn’t have imagined that I would be doing 110 pushups in one workout. Me, who started with a 5 lb. KB!
It’s unbelievable how you two unselfishly give your time and energy without compensation to help others.  I appreciate you both so much and struggle to find the words to adequately thank you for improving my life. I look forward to swinging my 20 lb. (and more later) KB for a long time!
With much love and gratitude,
Here is my testimonial.
John is the inspiration, mentor and driving force behind our class. Each workout targets a different part of the body and it never gets stale. I know that I would never have the will power.,

To work on my fitness without this class. When I started with John I had just been diagnosed with a chronic autoimmune disease and recovered from double pneumonia,, and hadn’t even been going for walks. Totally out of shape and bloated from the drugs I have to take.

Now I’m in better shape and healthier than I have been since high school, and I walk for an hour a day, work out and swim lengths every other day.
Thanks for everything, John.
Nancy (healthy 67 years old)
Hi John
In the Fall of 2013, I had a full knee replacement.  My surgeon said I was the perfect candidate for surgery because my weight was good, I was not on any medication and I exercised.  I had been exercising with John’s group at Parc Fitness for the past two years so I had built up good strength in all my body.  However, when the doctors say it takes a year to get your strength back after surgery they are correct.  I have been working with John since he came back in April but it has taken me until this Fall to get the full strength back in my knee and I am still working on my abdomen muscles.  John loves what he does and encourages us to be the best that we can be.  Our workouts are directed at the whole body.  On these cool, dark Fall mornings,,,,,, it is easy to say I will just roll over and stay in bed;  I know I will feel much better and will be healthier if I get up and get to Parc Fitness and workout with John and his group of ladies.  All of us have made improvements in our bodies and we are so fortunate to have him working with us.  We promise to keep working on our own but will sure miss you when you and Diane go back to Hawaii!
I cannot believe that my second 6-month term with you is coming to an end (thankfully only temporary).
You continue to inspire, challenge and push us to succeed. I am getting stronger, agile, and more mobile with each workout. You fine-tune the workout to meet our individual problems. I achieved and continue to maintain my goal weight for the last year and a half (something I have not been able to do for over 15 yrs).  I feel and sleep better for it.
Your workouts are amazing, sometimes difficult, and always different. Your emails, full of healthy tips and recipes, are welcome. You do all the work; we reap the benefits.
So much of your time, given freely, to help us live and achieve a healthier life. I am forever grateful.
Aloha Coach,   thanks again.      Lise
In May of this year, I was given the opportunity to join one of John's
kettle bell classes at a local fitness centre here in London. To be honest,
I did not know what a kettle bell was so thought it best to google the name
before attending my first class. I did not want to look too silly in front
of my new instructor.

Working at a desk, predominately over the years, meant I had become out of
shape and heavier than I had ever been. Shopping for clothes had become an
unpleasant experience.

My first classes with John were challenging. I immediately migrated to one
of the lightest kettlebells in the gymn as I knew my fitness level was poor.
As the days and weeks unfolded, I was able to increase my weights and began
to feel stronger. Changes were beginning to take place not so much on my
bathroom scale but in my measurements. My body was beginning to shed
inches. With John's instruction, I was beginning to challenge myself to do
more than I ever thought possible. My energy levels were dramatically
improving and I was feeling so much better. My bouts with anxiety and
depression were disappearing.

John has been a wonderful teacher. Throughout this whole process, whenever I
have had a question or challenge, John has been there to guide me and
provide me with a wealth of information. I have learned so much from my
experience and am deeply grateful for a teacher who is totally committed to
the health and well-being of his students. 

I had an appointment with my family doctor this week and he is thrilled that
I have committed to improving my fitness and loves the idea of the
I have been working out with kettlebells with John for about 6 months and am very happy with the results.  My fitness has been limited for a couple of years by knee pain and chronic low back pain caused by severe low back degeneration.  I have been looking for answers and have worked through chiropractic, physio and massage treatments.  All of them have helped a little bit and helped me to learn about what I can and can’t do, but I knew I needed to be stronger to protect the bones that I have left and prevent things from getting worse.  Plus – I really like to stay active!  John’s classes were tough at first, but I have increased my weights over time and now feel  and have no pain when I work.  My knee rarely gives me trouble anymore if I position it properly, and my back and core are definitely stronger and I can do things that I have not done in a while, without pain or after-effects.  The best part is that I enjoy kettlebells and we have fun in our class.  John is a great teacher and is always helping us to learn.  He is a fountain of information on health and wellness.
Thanks, John! 🙂  Not happy to see you go off to Hawaii, but we will keep your place warm at the gym and do your workouts faithfully!

1795915_10153985664400370_1251183391_oHI John

Before surgery, the physical therapist told a group of us (about to have surgery that we needed to have a strong upper body because we would need to lift ourselves from a seated position using just our arms while our knees were healing.  There were many groans from others in the room,  but I just smiled – knowing that I was well conditioned to do so because of the kettlebell.  I could have dropped to the floor then and done 20 pushups – but didn’t want to show off!!!

On May 5thI had a partial knee replacement on both knees. After surgery, I began physical therapy immediately.  Upon discharge, I went right to Stay Fit Physical Therapy.  The goal was to have a 120-degree range of motion in 6 weeks.  Four days after surgery I had 90-degree range of motion and within 2 weeks I reached the goal of a 120-degree range of motion.  This usually takes 6 weeks for most.  I firmly believe this was due to the workouts, squats, etc. My legs were used to doing in KB.  Other benchmarks included strength and balance.  After one month in physical therapy, I had surpassed all of the goals  they discharged me.  I continue in KB and know that because of the fitness I had, my surgery and recovery was “a piece of cake.”

Dottie Sunio


Went to my yearly doctor’s visit at the MS Clinic up at University Hospital yesterday. I told the doctor that for the past 9 months I had been exercising regularly ( 5-6 days a week at 6:45am). The last 6 months,.,. I had been exercising with the bike, treadmill and kettlebells along with squats, leg raises, and various other strengthening routines. I did have to explain what a kettlebell is and how it is used, as this was something foreign to him. Needless to say, he was very impressed!

Now to the good part. He tested my reflexes, my balance, walking and my leg and arm strength. He could not push my legs down from a raised position – last year I could hardly hold my legs in a raised position. My arms were even stronger than my legs! – (yeah kettlebells!) He couldn’t see any spasticity in my legs this year. He took me off my muscle relaxant drugs after telling him I had not taken any before this appointment. He thought I must have done so since my legs were so good. My balance was 150% better. Yeah, kettlebells again! And squats and leg raise, and mountain climbers, and all you encouraged to do!! He was blown away by my improvement! He said, and I quote,,,,, “Exercise is the cornerstone to good health.” ” You need motivation and a good support system to make it a success.”

You are my inspiration and my motivation!! The class has become a support system, not only for me but for everyone in it. We could not continue without that support from each other.

Thank you for telling me yes I could join your class and y,,, es I would become strong and keep going at my own pace. My own pace soon became even with everyone! I did become strong, and I am going to get stronger! Wait till next spring!

Thank you so much, John; you gave me my health and my life back.


251 responses to “Testimonial

  1. Great post. I am experiencing a few of these issues as well..

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