Setting Yourself Up For A Lifetime by Coach Jenny
At some point, in the middle of the pandemic when motivation to work out was at an all time low, I was scrolling through instagram and came across a past member's "Instagram story". It was a video of his father (wearing a Stealth shirt) squatting down next to his granddaughter, drawing a hopscotch course which he and his wife then proceeded to show his granddaughter how to jump in the boxes.
These "master's athletes", Charles and his wife Kathy, are still current, dedicated members at Stealth. They have been members for over 7 years. The dynamic duo attended classes 3x per week, and currently have a gym setup in their beach house where they follow our daily programming. While they have no intentions of competing in a Master's Division of the CrossfFit Games, Charles and Kathy have taught us many life lessons. Both their hard work and dedication to their work outs, are a testament to their belief not only in maintaining physical activity and prioritizing health through their lifetime but also their belief in the coaches to help keep them strong, mobile, and safe.
I was so inspired (but not surprised) to see Charles and Kathy moving so easily with their granddaughter. There are people half their age who can't do these simple tasks. As I enter my "master's" year of CrossFit, I'm well aware of the benefits of what I am doing now to help my future. Age-related muscle weakness can have devastating effects on a person's ability to perform everyday activities such as climbing stairs, picking up a grandchild, or simply getting out of a chair or bathtub, predisposing older adults to poorer function and greater risk of falls. CrossFit allows its oldest athletes to maintain function and even high performance into their later years. It gives the necessary strength to help maintain independence which is evident in the video I witnessed of Charles and Kathy with their granddaughter. Though CrossFit may have the reputation to train young, fit athletes, what CrossFit really does is train general physical preparedness and in Charles and Kathy's case - playing hopscotch with their granddaughter.
Yes, exercises may need to be modified for older athletes but that is also the case for ANYONE and it has nothing to do with age. The exercises that are prescribed from a coach or that you choose to do as an athlete should be determined by current ability, while also taking into consideration the type of exercise, injury, medical history, mobility, current metabolic conditioning and goals; NOT age. Why should someone miss out on the benefits of various types of exercise because they are deemed "too old"?
I had the chance to chat with Charles and Kathy about their years wodding at Stealth and their experience with being a master's athlete. Here's what they said: "Depending on our schedule, we do 3-5 workouts at Stealth. When we are in LBI from Thursday-Monday we normally do 2-3 workouts. In general we get 5 or 6 workouts per week. One of the things we disliked about other gyms was the repetition of workouts so we both love the constant variation. Some are more challenging, some easier, but there's always a challenge. One of the revelations was the weightlifting which we never did before but we are now totally into!" Kathy's favorite movements: sit-ups or deadlifts!
A word of advice from the Camack's: "For new Masters, I tell them to work on form rather than speed and don't hurt themselves. Injuries that were a 2 day recovery at 25 are more like a month at 60. The other aspect that takes a while to appreciate is the opportunity to socialize with other athletes from ages 17-70. Funny how friendships develop across generations when you're not just hanging out with people your own age"
Like it or not, we all get old and will have to deal with the physiological and psychological changes associated with the aging process. However, to a very large extent we have control over the degree to which those changes impact our quality of life, because we are only as old as we believe we are. We have a very simple choice between sedentary aging and active aging that involves maintaining a high quality of life and functionality well into our elderly years.. More importantly, attitude plays a huge role in determining the degree to which we remain active as we age. There's no doubt that Kathy and Charles have demonstrated what it looks like to actively age and to have a positive attitude. I hope this gave you some motivation in this challenging time. I know it definitely did for me!
Sincerely, Coach Jenny