I’m not the only one. And just to prove it, I’m sharing another great story. Okay, several.
Dear Reader: First of all, if I may do a preemptive strike here: if Unsplash had photos of oldsters in the gym, I would use them.
If Unsplash photographers bothered to peel the prejudice off their eyeballs, they would see that a goodly proportion of the folks in the gyms are my age or within 10–15 years of 68, using trainers, punching out the reps, and getting strong, I would GLADLY post those photos. But they don’t. They have a narrative, that narrative doesn’t include powerful engaged, funny, energetic, super successful oldsters. Add oldsters of color, it gets worse. If you put in any key words around older women and men into Unsplash, you will get the same stupid shit I get. So kindly.
But they don’t. So before my Medium commenters bark at me that I don’t use photos of folks our age, WILL YOU PLEASE. You wanna bark? BARK AT UNSPLASH. I’ve bought photos from Deposit and I have the same issue there. I don’t make enough money on Medium to buy super expensive custom photos of a cohort that the general public doesn’t believe exists, so people don’t photograph us. ‘Nuff said.
Good. Now we have that out of the way.
I have a 72-yo friend who is a fellow Army vet, athlete, and very active man who knows I love good copy. This is what he sent:
First, you will notice she does not look like a fitness trainer.
Second, you will notice she does not have beauty queen proportions.
Third, you will notice that She. Doesn’t. Need. Them.
From the article:
Murway says she started powerlifting at 91 when her friend wanted a workout buddy “and she dragged me kicking and screaming all the way to the gym.”
But as a former dancer, she quickly fell in love with the challenge of weightlifting. And especially with competing.
“This probably sounds silly, but the thing I like the most is the applause,” Murway confessed. “When people like what I’m doing and they wave their hands and yelp and screech, I feed on that.”
Part of what gets me up in the morning is a story like this. These are everyday folks who are tired of having society and their medical professionals feed them the Conventional Wisdom that “you should slow down, you’re too old.”
PAH. Pardon me while I spit.
Dr. Charles Eugster started a fitness program at 85, started weight training at 87, and went on to set all kinds of athletic records.
You could say OH WELL I COULDN’T DO THAT.
You’d be right, too. You’re not Charles Eugster. You’re you. What YOU can do is completely different.
You’re also not Edith Murway, either. You’re you. What YOU can do is completely different.
Shall I go on? Do I need to?
Am I telling you to pick up weight lifting? NO.
Am I telling you to start powerlifting? NO.
I am underscoring the message that like Edith, who was a dancer, as was Cara Lee who recently returned to dancing at 74, the point is
Yesterday I penned a story wherein I quoted Medium writer Pete Ross who points out, accurately, that seeing movement as work is all wrong. Movement is fun, it’s how we are designed. When you find what you love, be it swimming:
or or or or or or, it’s pure delight to move.
You get it. Kindly folks, this isn’t about you or comparing yourself to them. It’s about deciding once and for all that your life, the quality thereof, the fun you could be having if you were healthier ( assuming that right now you’ve got some kind of device next to your chair to help you get out of it) are still well within reach. Assuming you haven’t disabled yourself already, that is, with making the final decision that you can’t do that.
You’d be right. You’ve already decided that you can’t, and the sad thing is how hard folks are willing to fail in order to be right that they can’t do that, whatever that is, be it walk around the block or bike to the store.
Ability begins between our ears with a “Yes. I’m gonna try that.”
I just published a story about a local funny man who has been through hell, including two aortic valve replacements, a double bypass and a heart attack. At 64, here he is, at a local all-natural bodybuilding championship:
Look. I do not care what you choose to do. Each of us has challenges, we have our physical issues. Just at the top of Frank’s chest, above, you can see the latticework of titanium stitches. Now he keeps us in stitches.
I’ve got scars and lumps and bumps and injuries galore. I used to pay my mortgage by opening up the sliding glass doors on my deck in the summer when I lived in Lakewood. The neighbors could see me kickboxing to a DVD. Out of pity, they threw quarters. They hoped I would stop. I didn’t. (They threw a block party when I moved. It was paid for by all those quarters that fell through the deck slats). Because I insist on doing that kind of thing I can do a great many more things that require a lot of balance. Thanks for the money, guys. I can’t do that here in Eugene; all I have around me close in are Steller’s Jays, and they make the same squawking noise my Colorado neighbors used to. However, they don’t throw money.
One of the great gifts of the Internet is that first, inspiration is a click away:
Second, there are loads and LOADS of exercise programs, gentle yoga:
Second, you can find local trainers, gyms, fitness professionals and personal trainers as well as activities at your local community centers like Silver Sneakers and water aerobics.
I’m too old for that shit? Yeah you are.
Get out of my way, I’m getting started? Yeah you are.
Pick one to be right about.
At the risk of repeating myself ( I do, I know, I do it often, that’s what 22 concussions do to a brain), I watched Space Cowboys again recently. I mentioned this in a recent article and because it fits here, I will say it again. Col. Hawk Hawkins is stroking the skin of an SR -71 Blackbird, ugly on the ground, and an angel from hell in the sky at Mach 5. He says to his love interest, Sara,
She’s only happy up there goin’ fast. She’s not meant to be sitting on the ground. That’s a lousy way to die. Just sitting around, waiting…
You and I can choose to deteriorate fast and have our reasons and excuses. As I wrote elsewhere, dementia starts in our thirties, and it’s truly downhill from there. So much of this is negotiable. And frankly, as Eugster and Murway demonstrate above, it is never too late to start.
Unless you wanna be right about how it’s too late for you.
You’d be right. But if you don’t mind, you might make way for the folks busy making sure they are making the very most of the time they have:
With the exception of the 77-yo old gentlemen, all the folks above came to lifting late. All I’m saying is that so much is available if you’re willing to give something, ANYTHING a shot.
And because I walk my talk:
Most of the folks I write about aren’t about supergeezers. Just everyday folks who decided that enough was enough. That can be anyone. The reason I share those stories is because I want to dispel the lie that only certain people can….nope.
YOU can. Barring extreme disability, YOU can.
Question is, when are you coming out to play?