Updated: Mar 4
One of my favourite photograph series is Nicholas Nixon’s “The Brown Sisters.” You can see below two images from the series; one of the four sisters in 1974 and the others taken in 2015. These photos are taken over 40 years and capture “the passage of time and, with it, human ageing and the lurking shadow of mortality.” “We are all aware of time passing and us not being aware of it while it’s passing” he has said. This last line is so pertinent, especially when it comes to the work I do. I work with all age groups, but the goal is mainly the same. Eventually most of us find value in our health, fitness and hopefully this is all before it starts to deteriorate.
At any age we can have the life we deserve. When we are young, fit and healthy we should never take this for granted. As time goes by, one day you can wake up and realise you are out of shape, unfit, and ill of health. Getting older is inevitable. Perhaps, if you’ve left it late, you may wish you had started earlier but the good news is that it’s never too late to make a change.
When one doesn’t work their muscles, they start to waste away. You can lose as much as 3% to 5% of muscle mass each decade after 30 but it is possible to regain muscle, even in your old age. You may not be able to turn back the clock on your fitness journey, but you can put a stop to the accelerating ageing process and create new habits.
There are many benefits of staying active beyond what you might initially think. Reducing your chances of falls, strengthening your bones and muscles. Preventing yourself from diseases such as osteoporosis. Improving cognitive function which reduces the risk of dementia and on a superficial level keep yourself looking and feeling young. These are all benefits of staying active into later life.
Just this week WW2 British Army veteran Captain Tom Moore finished his mammoth walking challenge ahead of his goal to do it before turning 100; he even extended it. It started as part of a humble ambition to raise £1000 for the NHS. Instead he raised an incredible £19 million so far by completing the original target of 100 laps of his 25-metre garden and proving that it’s never too late to set goals and achieve them. Even when you’ve recently had a hip replacement!
Former US marine George Hood who’s 62 says he’s in the greatest shape of his life and who can argue with him? “It’s 4-5 hours a day in a plank pose, then 700 push ups a day, 2000 sit ups a day; in sets of a hundred, 500 leg squats a day. For upper body and the arms, I do approximately 300 curls a day.” Thanks to all this training he recently held the plank for 8 hours, 15 minutes and 15 seconds, a new Guinness World Record.
Big goals, both by men. Men who perhaps not coincidentally have military backgrounds and therefore know the importance of discipline, consistency and hard work. Age really is a case of mind over matter.
Last week my youngest client Sophie turned 26 and my eldest client, Rachel, turned 71. Both are at a stage of their lives that they have decided to seriously pursue a change. Being 71 and training with me doesn’t mean being molly coddled. I do press ups, planks, and weightlifting with my senior clients just as I do with Sophie. The difference of course, is being aware of the limitations my senior clients have. Rather than starting with HIIT (High- Intensity Interval Training) I do LIIT (Low Intensity Interval Training) which is easier on the joints, better for those prone to injury or increased likelihood of osteoporosis and arthritis. Generally, the exertion levels cannot be the same with all age groups; I wouldn’t want to leave a senior feeling winded. Yet building overall strength, endurance and gaining flexibility safely with the correct exercises is attainable and highly recommended for both young and older.
Do you want to ramp it up a gear? Are you part of the older demographic and want to get active? You know who to call.