There are many posts and articles out there that really drive home how important it is to stay active, especially as you get older. Simple things you do daily whether it be carrying groceries, walking up and down stairs, or just standing upright can be very challenging later in life! Granted, some people never really hit such drastic points while aging however it is not uncommon for a large portion of society. The fact is, quality of life can be greatly impacted without daily exercise. Posture may decline and balance become poor, but what’s hardest for many people is losing peace of mind to live independently.
For many individuals over 50, exercising can be a daunting task. Energy may be low, time may be short and you just become stressed over the topic. It’s true for anyone starting or getting back into shape. You feel nervous, shy or embarrassed and before you know it you’ve given yourself a million reasons why you can’t do it. There are many incredible fun and challenging activities out there for adults of any age to take advantage of, yet we constantly limit ourselves based on age or what we feel may be overzealous. Do you use the excuse “I’m too old”? Well, let me tell you a story.
Back in late March, I was given the opportunity to train a couple of ladies at the gym I currently teach at. I sat down with them and we went over their goals, weaknesses, etc. After some chit chat, they mentioned that they were trying to get into this charity boxing tournament in November. Naturally, I sat there a minute and processed what I heard. Let me put things in perspective here: A) These ladies are both over 50 years old. B) They’ve never been in a boxing match before (much less watched one). C) They’ve never hit anyone before and D) Never BEEN hit before. Sound like enticing statistics? Ya, exactly. But I heard them out and was very impressed by their enthusiasm. These ladies are the type of people coaches love to work with. They are fun, positive and best of all, DRIVEN. They push each other and have fun doing it. So naturally, I was excited too. Regardless of the challenges ahead, they were more pumped about the opportunity to train! Those are the best kinds of clients, the one’s that may not know what they’re doing but want to try anyways. So we began.
These ladies were already participating in group fitness classes and some boxing fitness classes previously so they built a good starting point for training. Their schedule was to train boxing with another coach at their gym and train strength/conditioning with me. Well let me tell you, we had a ways to go. These ladies weren’t the strongest or most coordinated of the people I’ve worked with, but they had more passion than any one of them. To this day they still surprise me. They went from barely bench pressing a bar (or bench pressing properly) to now almost 80lbs! They could hardly grasp the thought of squatting a plate on each side to now almost squatting two! They went from arguing heavy lifting to now just expecting it. They’ve improved tremendously in technique and most importantly in confidence. They went from being afraid to fail, to now embracing failure as apart of growth. They now see the beauty in the attempt.
I still work with these ladies today. As heartbreaking as it was for them to NOT get accepted to fight at this one event, they still demonstrated tremendous courage and passion every step of the way. And better yet, they still want to fight. What’s more is now I’m even more excited to see that happen. I truly believe that these two 50 year old women can not only get a fight but succeed in one. They don’t care what limitations are put on them anymore as they’ve seen themselves do things they’ve never thought possible! They truly embody the spirit of an athlete.
My point is this: people who look for excuses tend to find one. I’m not saying go sign up to get hit in the head to better your fitness level (unless you truly feel that’s what will do it for you), but instead find an activity or class and just take the plunge. It’s going to be frightening and nerve-wracking at first but I promise you it will get better. Yes, aging is scary and things become increasingly difficult but the possibility of improving your health should push you past that. Age isn’t a limiting factor unless you accept it as one. Who knows, you might learn something new along the way or make new friendships! Getting involved could be the best thing you do not only for your health, but maybe your social life. So get out there and get active. It’s like I told those ladies all those weeks ago:
“If you fight for your limitations, you get to keep them”