Age is a measure of beauty, of grace, and of wisdom. This application of measure is true of one’s fitness journey, as well.
One of my greatest joys is training clients that are older than me, many of which are in their respective Masters Age category. Much of the time I wonder who is training who; am I training them for fitness and longevity or are they training me to be a better coach and human being? I have a suggestion: surround yourself with Masters Human Beings. There is a difference between being old and being a master, by the way.
Being “old” is a limited frame a mind, unless embraced with good humor—for we all know that humor brings youth to the bones.
Being a master means to “gain control of; overcome” and “having or showing very great skill or proficiency.” To gain control of one’s SELF takes time, much humor, and time-developed wisdom. By default, someone who is a master is often “old,” but certainly not always.
So what makes someone “old” and crotchety and what makes someone a master; poised with beauty, grace, and wisdom?
Age as a measure of Beauty
When something is beautiful, you do not need words to express it. In fact, when words fall short, this is a good indicator that you are experiencing beauty. Did you see Oksana Chusovitina, 41, perform for a record seventh Olympic Games at Rio in 2016. No words. Just awe. There is a deep understanding that the level of skill and mastery displayed during and after the years of kids, life, and responsibilities, is truly and perplexingly noble. She is noble for inspiring others to believe in their brewing beauty as well, like a tea bag seeping in hot water for years. That is some STRONG potion, upon which young ladies will lap up and brew their own beauty.
Age as a measure of Grace
Aging with G.R.A.C.E. can be broken down into 5 components: Gratitude, Resilience, Attitude, Courage, and Education, according to Catherine Roland of Psychology Today. Let’s focus on resilience for now. Psychological and physical setbacks are both trials that simply ask, “Will you overcome?” Sure, there is a time to grieve, and that is a vital time. Let’s challenge that proverbial question with a better one: How will I overcome? Those with years of slapping that question in the face with resilience now have what is plainly and masterfully seen as grace. To be a master, we must first accept our weakness, then we can know how to rise above it. People who choose to master their weaknesses, such as an illness, an injury, or death of a loved one, will find that their irrevocable sense of joy is worth the pain it took to get there. Resilient people choose to overcome evil with good, they choose to overcome illness with strength of spirit, and they choose to meet harsh people with gentleness. Resiliency in life shows itself in resiliency within a workout or training cycle. This often takes a lifetime to master.
Age as a measure of Wisdom
As we start to age and move through our 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s (oh my!), we invariably see changes in our body, energy level, and recoverability. Our bodies will naturally start to slow down at this stage of life, and we need to start making more intelligent decisions when it comes to our food choices, workout protocols, and recovery methods. During this stage, many women will also experience daily hormonal challenges that will be unique to each individual and might range from unwelcome fatigue to debilitating depression. When applying wisdom to a successful workout program, try to apply the following:
- Have Plan A and Adapt to Plan B (or Plan C)
My preference is to plan for myself and for clients with one year in mind, which requires tweaking on a weekly or sometimes daily basis. This means you write down your goals, down to the nitty gritty. I find that the little goals, like increasing my plank hold or improving my wall sit time can act as confidence boosters to keep after the bigger goals like qualifying for an event, improving a 1RM, or changing body mass. Plan B can often mean adapting to a life stressor, such as an injury or career change with appropriate workout protocols. Keep in mind that just because an injury or life event happens, this does not mean you give up your goals. A master knows this because if nothing else, they are a master of adapting to curve balls.
- Take Time to Recover Like a Champ
Your body needs stress to adapt, but it shouldn’t leave you depleted and weary. If this is you, use this time to grow some ears of compassion for your body. If you need to take a nap, take a nap. If you need more sleep, then get more sleep. If you need to have a lighter day the next time you work out, then that is what you should do. This is a GREAT time to hone in on extra mobility work, balance training, trying a new skill, or get social and hike with friends. Try to find that sweet spot that makes you thrive and grow, physically and mentally. Masters know this, because they have the biggest ears for listening to their bodies. They can’t afford to break down, so they wisely listen and RESPOND with wise methods.
- Prioritize Strength Training: Strong Body, Strong Mind.
The most productive way to work out in your later years is by making strength workouts part of your norm. We know that as we age both our strength and our power output start to wane. There are so many benefits from incorporating load-bearing exercises into your life. Strength training increases your metabolism, releases those feel-good endorphins, and develops better body mechanics. Good body mechanics matter as we get older due to the risk of falling and injury.
- Figure Out What Soul Care is For You
We all can agree that our body and soul are connected. If you are having one of those days where you feel like you are in a fog, not performing optimally, or are just having a bad day, take the pressure off of yourself and do what feels right for your mind and body. Some personal favorites are: listening to meaningful music while walking with a sandbag, listening to a podcast while doing mobility, or trying new exercises without intensity and enjoying the mind-body awareness. Other great options are to attend a pilates session, practice yoga, or go on a walk with a long lost friend. Often, the act of movement is enough to get you out of the funk. So, lose the “all-or-nothing” mentality and just do something, no matter how small. A master takes care of their soul, and in turn treats their body right!