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Training in your old(er) age

10 years ago, a 54 yr old man walked into the gym I was working at complaining of dodgy knees. I remember him as a fit-isa kind of guy with poor posture and a deep concern that he would have to give up walking with his lifelong pals. I suggested we work together on some rehabilitation and then strength training to hopefully solve the problem. 10 yrs later, Graham, who is now a good friend, is still training with me.

The benefits of training into your 50’5 60’s and 70’s are pretty well known in the science journals now. The older gym go-er is starting to be a regular thing at most fitness gyms. Now I could sit here and quote research and studies and tell you / brag about all the things I have seen over the years, But you might say – Well, you’re only 34. Wait till you get to my age.

So don’t take my word for it. I asked some of our clients what their experiences of training in their (ahem) older years was. Here is what they said:

Graham 64yrs

What keeps you training in your 60’s and beyond?

Trying to maintain my mobility and flexibility so that I can continue to do the outdoor physical activities that I enjoy to the full for as long as possible.

What do you enjoy?

I’m not sure that “enjoy” is the appropriate word but I get a great deal of satisfaction from the weight activities that I do – when I was in my mid-fifties quite a long time ago, I never thought that I would be doing the deadlifts, squats, rows etc that I am doing today on a regular basis.

What is the hardest thing about training in the gym environment?

Getting started is always difficult but you always feel great on completion of a training session. Most large gyms are impersonal and training is conducted in a very sterile environment. As you get older you need to have a friendly and sociable, though challenging, environment in which to do your training – it makes all the difference. “Leave your egos at the door”.

What are the overriding benefits of a consistent fitness lifestyle?

You feel good in and about yourself if you feel fit and healthy. I was very fortunate to have been able to retire from work in my mid-fifties and I feel fitter and have more stamina today than I did when I was thirty. With the sedentary nature of most jobs these days, exercising well and regularly into your fifties and sixties, and beyond, is more important than ever as we are retiring later and living longer than ever before.

John Peck 70yrs

What keeps you training in your 60’s and beyond?

One of the things that keeps me going is the support and company of other people around me.  Group gym sessions are excellent for changing what could be quite a repetitive and tedious session into a load of fun.  If I know I have a group or personal session lined up with a trainer I will always be there.  If I did not have that commitment and I was just on my own, I might well waiver and put the session off

What are your motivations?

When you are young you never worry about training as you think you will just stay fit forever.  As you get into your late 60’s and now early 70’s , it becomes imperative if (a) you want to keep doing what you have always do and (b) not to be left too far behind younger players

What do you enjoy?

I love running on muddy hills in the forest.  It is the best exercise every for training for the mountains as your recovery rate is constantly being tested in action as you go from one hill to another. It is also the only time when I am on my own.  I get a chance to think and problem solve and it is quite meditative in some ways.

Why do it when so many people are ‘slowing down’?

It gives me energy to inject into all the other facets of my life.  Also it keeps me self-sufficient.  Whether I am doing DIY in the house, changing a wheel on a car or carrying Tesco shopping bags, I and able to be independent and not reliant on others.  I want to be like this for as long as I possibly can be.

What is the hardest thing about training in the gym environment?

Trying to work out what kettle bell wights to lift after a shoulder injury last year.  You don’t know whether you are being nervous and scared or intuitively sensible.  This is where a personal trainer is so vital as they can help you make the decision and not simply bash on blindly on and get damaged.

What was your first session like compared to where you are now?

Very nervous and feeble in comparison.  You don’t know what you don’t know, and you don’t know what you could achieve in the early stages.  You just have to creep up as you confidence as your skill level develops . Also, the exercises can be much harder at the start as your skill level is not there.  A classic example of this is the ‘turkish get up’ which becomes easier as you technique improves.

What are the overriding benefits of a consistent fitness lifestyle?

Every day you look forward to getting out of bed and have something exciting to look forward to.  It helps you to remain goals focussed in all aspects of your life and to have the courage to go the extra mile.

Carol 60yrs

What keeps you training in your 60’s and beyond? 

Achieving something you couldn’t do before and feeling so much better for it
 
What are your motivations? 

Keeping mobile and the ability to undertake tasks that I wouldn’t do in everyday life. 

What do you enjoy? 

I love all aspects of training especially when you have achieved something that you couldn’t do before – climbing the stairs without holding onto the stair rail – simple I know but its everyday things that you notice become harder as you get older.

Why do it when so many people are ‘slowing down’?

It makes me feel good not just physically but mentally alert too

What is the hardest thing about training in the gym environment? 
Trying to keep up with the youngsters although I am constantly reminded that training is about myself and not about what other people are doing

What was your first session like compared to where you are now? 

I clearly remember my first session as it was a kettlebell class and I couldn’t lift 8 kilos above my head!! Now I can do 16 kilos and I can skip which I couldn’t do when I started.  I can deadlift in excess of 80kilos I can just keep going without becoming out of breath which is wonderful.

What are the overriding benefits of a consistent fitness lifestyle? 

For me it’s the way I feel – I am able to move more freely than when I was in my forties.  Now that’s saying something!!!  I wouldn’t swap my training for anything hopefully I will go on through my seventies!!!

So there it is, straight form the horses mouth. Most of our guys 50+ would say the same. So don’t be put off by your age. Its simply a number and a state of mind. Swim against the tide and do what the others aren’t. You will feel better for it. Take their word for it.

If you think of someone in your life who could benefit from some exercise – Get them to call the gym on 01992 579050. If they mention this blog we can sort them out with a great trainer and get them feeling better like Benjamin Button.

Please also go out and buy John Pecks AMAZING book Restless: Dispatches from a Lifetime of Adventure. You can get it for 99p on MARCH 30 from Amazon.

GET THE BOOK HERE!

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