I am going to be 58 years old in a few weeks. And instead of freaking out that I am getting older, I find that I am actually feeling good about “aging up.”
I feel like I have learned a great deal over the past several years on how to keep my body strong, healthy, and able. And I am looking forward to bringing this new wisdom into the future.
The learning process started in my 40’s as I redesigned my life in order to be in the best shape of my life. Here is what I have learned over the past 15 years.
I had to go to battle with my ego. My body (not my ego) needed to take the lead.
I wasn’t always so mellow about my body and my fitness performance. In fact in my 50’s, I freaked out. In my 40’s, I had been a competitive masters swimmer and had been working out crazy intensive in the gym with a personal trainer. I was having a blast, feeling good, and seeing my performance increase. Then my 50’s hit, and everything seemed to be in decline. I gained weight, my swimming times were devastating when compared to what I did in my 40’s, my body hurt, and I was extremely frustrated.
Turns out my my ego and my body were having a HUGE battle as I moved into my 50’s. I wanted to work out as hard as I used to. And I wanted to keep swimming as fast as I did in my 40’s. When I discovered the consequences of that mindset (aka – pain and frustration), I re-evaluated what was most important. And that was living in a pain-free, strong, healthy, and able body.
I feel more sure of my physical capabilities now as I turn 58 than I did when I was in my mid-forties. I believe this has come from broadening my perspective of the purpose of fitness. I let go of the need to achieve athletic levels of performance. I now view fitness as a means to enhance the quality of my life and put me in touch with the essence of who I am.
I am learning the importance of matching exercise to my body rather than trying to force my body to do exercise that doesn’t serve it well in the long term.
I learned this lesson through pain and the desire to not be in so much pain. If something hurts beyond the expected muscular discomfort and fatigue, I stop doing it and then find something that creates strength, mobility, and ease. I am focusing more on what will build my body up and make it feel great. This is the experience I am after. And this is my measurement of success and progress.
My body feels great. I feel very grounded. And I still see progress in my fitness. And that is very satisfying.
On an interesting side note, my insight into the importance of matching exercise to your body (and not the other way) contributed to my decision to open my own personal training studio. I knew from my experience that fitness needed to be different as your body aged. It was not a matter of doing less (which was the advice I received) but matter of doing it differently.
At Strand Fitness, our personal trainers create workouts based on your goals with an engaging mix of full body strength, cardio, balance, and flexibility – all done with professionalism and an expertise in working with the “slightly older” body. Give us a call today at 630.653.8152 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to set up your complimentary, no obligation fitness consultation!
Avoiding injury plays a larger role in what I choose to do (and not to do).
In the past, I never met an exercise that I did not like. And I loved high intensity work. It felt good. But in the last two years, the thought of injury has crept into my psyche. Not so much from the perspective of being more cautious about exercise. The “avoid injury” filter is about being more selective with what exercises I do and how I workout.
My goal is to do what builds my body up in a way that is smart for my joints. That is the area where I feel most vulnerable. I am concerned about the health of my hips, shoulders, and knees. And I take care with the flexibility of my spine and with ensuring my ability to move in all different planes of motion. Instead of limiting myself to forward motion, I spend a lot of time twisting, moving sideways, and going backwards. It is fun. And it actually has alleviated a number of aches and pains in my body.
My fitness plan is no longer a series of workouts combined with a focus on nutrition.
These are extremely important and continue to be part of my plan. But now I am also focusing on managing stress, improving the quality of my sleep, and creating time where I am allowing my mind to be quiet. And when I work out, I make sure that I am focusing on balance, posture, and range of motion. It is helping me to open up my body and improve the quality of its movement – which I know is going to serve me well in my later years. I feel physically better at 58 than I did in my 40’s. I may not be as quick and fast (nor as lean), but I am stronger and more capable of enjoying the experience of how I move. And for that, I am grateful.
More “maintenance” is required – that’s for sure!
By maintenance, I am referring to the need to proactively address things like recovery and rest. Taking days off of physical activity grow in importance as you get older. Our bodies take longer to clear the cortisol generated by exercise and stress. If we don’t take time off, we increase the likelihood of injury and never give our bodies the chance to benefit from exercise and fitness activities.
Incorporating maintenance into my fitness regimen also means tending to the “soft tissue” in my body. In addition to our muscles, soft tissue also includes tendons, ligaments, fascia, and nerves. Previous injuries can create a buildup of scar tissue in our connective tissue. Dysfunctional movement patterns can create tightness and compensation that over works parts of our body and leaves other parts of the body weak. Muscle activation exercises, massage, myofascial release, and stretching are all means for keeping our soft tissue healthy. Tending to these parts of our body can keep us moving pain free – now and in the future.
At Strand Fitness you can develop your strength and fitness safely with expert guidance. Our seasoned personal trainers know how to progress your fitness in a way that respects where your body is and where you want it to go! Give us a call to learn more about how you can get started today.
I have found training my mind to be quiet has been essential to my journey!
I believe the most profound moments of my fitness journey have come as a result of “silence.” I know I perform better when I am able to clear my mind of distractions and worries. And I know when I allow my mind some “quiet” time, I am more mentally efficient and more creative. It’s when I neglect this part of my training, I suffer. I notice an increase in my stress levels and a decrease in my productivity and resiliency.
I have two main means of training my mind to be quiet. One is to meditate. For me, that means laying on the floor and breathing away the physical tension in my body. The second is to be very mindful of connecting breath and movement. I do this through the practice of yoga and by dedicating a portion of my workouts to timing my breath with my movement.
The results are incredible. I feel that I am able to recover and replenish incredible amounts of mental energy. I have more physical energy and strength. And when I am concentrating on my breath when I am working out, my performance in the workout soars. And that makes me feel awesome!
And finally, I have learned age is irrelevant in fitness
While your fitness may look different at 60 than it did at 40, you can still be a fit 60 year old and even a more fit 70 year old. It takes a different mindset and different exercise approach. And it may require a broader and different perspective of the purpose of fitness. But you can achieve it. You can have a strong, healthy, and able body – now and in the future.
Please contact me if I can ever be of assistance to you and your fitness journey. The personal training team at Strand Fitness knows what it takes to be successful at fitness in your “slightly older” years – heck we are slightly older too!
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We are located in downtown Wheaton, IL and serve Glen Ellyn, Winfield, and the western suburbs of Chicago.