Getting Old & Getting Better
We all are guilty of it at some point or another. "I wish I had started Cross Fit when I was his age!" "I'm too old for that stuff." "Just think what I could do if I'd known about this 10 years ago."
We feel too old, and too late to really achieve our 'prime' fitness. Now its just trying to hold things together & 'get through this'.
But this believe that physical fitness, athletic prowess is reserved for 18-24 year olds is a fallacy. Just because you didn't discover the power of High Intensity Training, mountain biking, swimming or weightlifting until you were in your 30's, 50's or 80's does not mean you can not achieve a level of fitness new to you. Of course, your training will have to be different, and less aggressive than if you were 18, but you have the capacity to still do things and feel how you never have before. Matt Foreman wrote about getting into weightlifting later in life and why its not such a bad thing compared to his lifetime of work:
"I hit all of my best lifts when I was 26. I snatched 341 back then. Now, I’m 41 and I snatch around 280. I’ll probably never get back to 341. That means I’ll never set another lifetime PR. But those of you who are starting at an older age still have a long run of PRs ahead of you. Maybe you’re not going to compete in the Olympic Trials, but you’re still on the way up. You’ve just learned how to do the OLifts. Even if you’re an old person, you’re still going to get that climbing-the-ladder phase we all experience in our early training years. You probably won’t be lifting the same weights as the young studs in their 20s, but so what? What you’re doing is still awesome."
So you can't compete with the 20- somethings, but you also have the chance to hit numbers and times and lifetime goals that you have missed out on when you were too young to care about fitness & nutrition. Some kids have the unique capacity to become masters in their sport as a young age, but most of us were too busy trying to get a date to focus or too poor to eat anything but frozen chimichangas and stay up all night. And luckily, we were young enough that our bodies thrived anyway.
But as you age the importance of regular exercise increases dramatically. Without it, our bodies are losing muscle mass, bone density & mobility. You aren't just 'holding it together' with regular metcons; every day you choose to be active and healthy you are strengthening your bones, improving mental clarity & fighting Alzheimers, preventing heart disease, and living longer in general, and with consistency, achieving similar health benefits to those who have been exercising their entire lives!
And finally, understand that some of the best 'athletes' in any given gym are not necessarily those finishing first or lifting the most. The great thing about discovering new hobbies and passions later in life is the capacity to approach it with the humility of being a novice at 50 & the wisdom of knowing your body has limits. Or as Oscar Wilde put it, "I'm too old to know everything". When you are young, your body will take the abuse of poor movement patterns & overly-heavy weight but as we age your body won't tolerate bad form or poor mobility. You may be slower to load up the bar & quicker to correct mistakes - markers of a great client and habits of a 'lifetime athlete'. A good coach will recognize that the presence and persistence of athletes at every stage of life are the markers of a truly successful gym.
The choices we make every day and at every age can help shape our golden years to be a lot more gold. Channel your inner Jacke LaLanne and do not let age be your excuse or crutch.