At the beginning of my career I wasn’t unlike any other personal trainer who thought they would spend the majority of their work days training athletes and bikini models. Well, there have only been a handful of “athletes” in my repertoire and 18 years later I have yet to work with my first bikini model. I have made a career out of training regular people; many in the 55-85 age range. In the beginning, I was simply trying to help them fend off old age. Now that I am in my 4th decade and have experienced for myself the cruel jokes of Father Time, I now help both men and women of a certain age judo chop the traditional views of old age into submission.
The only thing certain in life is death and taxes right? Wrong. What we know with absolute certainty is that after the age of 30 you stop being able to build bone density. After 40 you will start to lose ½ pound of muscle per year (which slows metabolism and encourages weight gain). Around age 40-45 women will go through a wild hormone induced ride that will lead to fluffy arms and a rounder mid-
section. And based upon your numbers (blood pressure, cholesterol and blood glucose) if you ignore your doctor’s advice to take action you are looking at possible heart disease, diabetes and stroke. I have witnessed family members who have had all the opportunity in the world to take control of their health ignore their doctor’s warnings and then feel victimized by having to go on insulin or choke down a
regimen of pills morning, noon and night. If you fail to use it, you lose it.
And there was a time when I would train people in fear. Fear that if they exerted themselves they would…I don’t know…pop or something. What I have learned is that while you must take age and medical history into consideration, there are many baby boomers that can run circles around some of the 20 and 30 year olds in the gym. I have folks in their 60’s who can run further and faster than people half their age. They can do squats, push-ups and the mere thought of falling and not being able to get up doesn’t even cross their minds. I have now realized I was wrong; I have been training athletes all along. I just didn’t realize it.
The functional fitness trend is here to stay. We just need to embrace the concept that functional fitness isn’t just for the youngsters; when done the right way it will allow a person to do real life things because their training centers on activities to prepare them for real life. And it is okay to exert themselves. There is no rule that says after 50 you are regulated to the pink hand weights. Pick something up heavy and lift it!
I have had the pleasure of training a 95 year old who year after year won his age group in the Missouri Senior Games. He said it was by default because he was the only one competing (or alive to compete) to which I maintained that wasn’t his fault. He showed up. Then we had an 83 year old who was able to travel to Egypt, Italy, Vietnam and more. A 75 year old who hiked up a volcano in South America. And
now, a 70 year old who is hitting the golf ball further than she did at 60, a 64 year old who ran in a Zombie 5K and a 60 year old who climbed a mountain.
I have long maintained that what you do at 30 will directly affect your physical health at 60 and beyond, so for you youngsters reading this take action now. You may be able to do everything you want carrying that extra 50 pounds right now but I promise it will catch up with you. If you are further down the road (40’s and 50’s) we can develop a plan that will knock 10-15 years off your chronological age and give you back your physical freedom. In that 60+ category and feeling like there is no hope? Bring it on. If you are willing to put in the work, we can develop a personalized system that will allow you to do things you thought were long past you.
So why isn’t there any “how to” tips in this blog? Because this blog isn’t about the process; it’s about changing your mindset! Age happens. Sit too long and the fight to regain your health and freedom will be a little more challenging, but not impossible. In fact, I love seeing the smiles of those who felt there was no hope learn their belief was nothing more but a silly, silly myth.
I fully realize there are some who feel there is so much weight to lose that why bother. I know there are some who have heard every year for many years that their blood pressure is too high, they need to lose 30 pounds or their blood sugar is borderline; if that is you, I implore you to take action. If your doctor is telling you being put on medication is probable if you don’t make lifestyle changes please don’t be shocked or upset if you fail to make those changes and get put on medication. We also know there are some people who simply do not like to exercise. Believe me, there is a way for every person out there to move their wellness needle a little closer to healthy if they have the right program and the mindset; and it may or may not even include exercise.
Answer me this: Why in the world would you want to work 40+ hours a week till you are in your 60’s only to retire and be sick, weak, frail or disabled? Isn’t that the time when you should be out enjoying 40 years of hard work? Playing with grandkids, traveling and living life on your terms? To work that hard to swallow down a handful of pills and sit in a chair makes no sense.
You have the power to kick old age to the curb. All you have to do is decide when you want to begin.
ASCM certified Health Fitness Specialist