A few days ago I worked with one of my fabulous fantastic female clients, who happens to be 69 years old. Her workouts are comparable to mine, and sometimes more challenging. She likes to have me work her endurance as well as strength to help her prepare for week long hikes she does with the Sierra Club in the Sierra Nevadas. I always enjoy my time with her, as I am really doing what I love in designing challenging workouts that keep her getting stronger every day. I love to see the results and I enjoy the time with her!
Directly after her session, I had a new/old client. A man that I haven’t worked with since 2006. I knew exactly what we would be working on- spinal health, strength and mobility. Shoulder girdle mobility. After years of habitually hunching shoulders there’s a bit of a hump there, so that’s the first line of business. We can work on some heart health and balance also, build up some stamina, but without a healthy spine any work we do with weights is counter productive. It just aggravates the current bad positioning. I started him on the treadmill and had him put his hands behind his back to begin to open the chest and encourage him to focus upwards instead of at the floor. After that I handed him some weights to do lateral arm raises with an external arm rotation in the upward position. We began to work on compressions on the Bosu, when he reminded me again that he is 70.
I don’t think he thought I was getting the point, so he said “Is this an age appropriate workout for someone who is 70?” What is the subtext of that? Is it “I think you are working me too hard and you aren’t taking my age into consideration”??? If so, then he was right, I wasn’t getting the point. But at that point the lightbulb clicked on.
And thus, I said “The woman who worked out before you is 69. Her workouts are more challenging than some of my own. She looks amazing and is in fantastic health. She has also been working out with me for over 10 years now. Her quality of life is much improved by our teamwork in keeping her healthy, agile and strong. So, when you ask that question, the answer is- the workout is not necessarily age appropriate. It is person appropriate.” And I explained why I was having him do the things we were doing.
The point is, far too often, people use age as an excuse as to why they can’t do things. They can’t do things because they aren’t conditioned to do things, or because they are afraid of something. Workouts need to be catered to an individual’s needs, not to a specific age. Clearly, people can carry off different ages in all sorts of different ways.
So, if you are one of those people who tries to pull the ‘age card’ (and people start doing this in their 20’s!) this is a negative message you are sending to yourself. Cancel the ‘age card’, and be honest with yourself about what you’re really trying to say. It could be “I am uncomfortable with that because I hurt my knee and I’m afraid to hurt it worse”, or “I’m tired and I don’t feel like it” or “my father broke his hip when he was my age and I’m afraid the same thing will happen to me”. I don’t know, YOU know. Whatever it is, find out what is really going on, put away your excuse of ‘age card’ and figure out how to move forward in a productive way.
Your Wellness Coach,