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Thursday, September 20, 2012

exercise for old people

An online weightlifting buddy of mine confessed over the weekend that she was in a little funk over her impending 55th birthday. No amount of reassurance that she was fitter and shmexier than most people half her age would relieve the funk, because that wasn't actually the problem. She knows that she's in better shape than many 25 year olds. No, it's more what society attaches to her forthcoming age that was wearing her down. A person can only receive so many AARP solicitations or opportunities for the "senior discount" before she is forced to go, "Holy shit. The world thinks I'm OLD."

I was commiserating with her because I've had a few WTF moments concerning my upcoming 50th birthday or my age in general. You know, like when you realize that, statistically, you are probably closer to death than you are high school?  It's a little disconcerting, especially when in your own head you're still the same hoodie-wearing, semi-hip young thang you always were. Another example I shared was that my Y has started a new program this session which I believe is officially called Fitness Over 50, but which on close examination really should be called Exercise for the Decrepit. If, y'know, anyone cared about truth-in-advertising laws. God.  That one killed me.  Do 50 year olds really need to be grouped in with the senior citizens, fitness-wise?  Maybe the ones who've never exercised a day in their lives, are terribly overweight and/or have serious pre-existing health conditions, but wouldn't you also say that about a 30 year old who's never exercised and is very obese and/or has a serious medical condition?  Call it Fitness for the Unfit or something and leave my next birthday out of it, yo. (Not to mention, there are some actual elderly people at my Y who are super-fit. They aren't the target market for this class either.)

(Just look at this guy whose picture I snagged off the internet. Doesn't he look Perky and like He Even Lifts? Get that actor a Cialis commercial, stat.)

And then this morning, on the heels of that, another online buddy who I'm fairly sure wasn't privvy to the weekend's conversation, mentioned in passing that in the group exercise class that she teaches for people over 50 (sigh--and she's in Europe; apparently 50 =decrepit there too) she was having her students do front/Zercher squats which they complained about. And that she gave them the option of using weights anywhere from 12 to 45 lbs. 

It made me realize--two years ago I was an average almost-48 year old woman, healthy and reasonably fit for a middle-aged chick, but not anyone who was a life-long athlete, super jock, or in any way remarkable.  My exercise consisted of walking a lot and doing yoga on and off.  Then I started lifting.  This morning I back-squatted 170 for reps.  And that's not my absolute max.  My point being, if an average middle-aged, almost-50 year old woman with no great athletic gifts can squat 1.5x her bodyweight after a couple years of training, just through, y'know, showing up at the gym several times a week and doing work, how much are we short-changing 50-ish people and above by convincing them they need special classes, etc?  By making them think it's too late, they'll never lift heavy or run fast or swim far or whatever?  Yeah, maybe they (we) *won't* reach the level that someone starting out on an exercise program when they're 20 will. Maybe they won't be as strong or fast or full of endurance. Maybe it will take them longer to reach their goals. But that doesn't mean they need to stick to aqua aerobics with the 2lb dumbbells either.

Um, no disrespect to those aqua aerobics ladies. Cause they're tough. They'll cut a bitch if you interfere with their sauna time.


Monday, September 10, 2012

too much time in gym + camera = this

Count yourselves lucky. If there were more than one or two days a week I could actually take video in my gym without getting scolded and made to stop, you'd all have to put up with more of this nonsense.  Nevertheless, I blocked out a big part of the afternoon yesterday for my workout so that I could mess around and attempt to capture some stuff I wanted to look at and/or amuse my friends with.

The first thing I wanted to video was myself doing overhead squats with a medicine ball, because the first time I attempted these, I did them directly in front of a mirror and it was rather shocking to me how crooked my hips looked. I mean, I already knew my pelvis is higher and tilted higher on the left, but I didn't realize how much it affected my squat mechanics.  Then, when I went to what we're calling the "fancy pants Y" on Labor Day (my own ghetto Y being closed) and I used a power rack that actually had a mirror right in it, I saw that, yes, my hips are messed up like that when I barbell squat too, if seen from the front. Am I imagining how bad that imbalance looks because I know it's there? I asked myself.  The only answer is to film that mutha.

First attempt.  I thought videoing myself in the mirror where I first saw the problem myself was a good idea.

Unfortunately, I didn't realize that the camera angle meant you couldn't actually see my hips when I squatted even though *I* could see them in the mirror.  Sigh.  Okay, okay, I'll drop the artsy shit, put my camera on a window ledge, and film head-on.

So, am I crazy--oh shut up--or do you see how one side of my butt ends up lower than the other because of my crookedness?  Should I be concerned about this?  It doesn't bother me when I'm squatting.

Then I decided to prove to the world that I can in fact get both a 25lb and a 5lb plate onto my own back without help to do a weighted plank, a fact I only discovered yesterday.  Once you see the lulzy technique involved, you might want to stop watching because 70 seconds of me planking is not exciting.  OTOH, perhaps you're starved for entertainment.  Do as you wish, reader, do as you wish.

Finally, something a bit more serious.  The newest, um, trend? amongst my imaginary (i.e. online) friends is doing box squats and everyone's been posting theirs up.  I took a little video at the end of the day yesterday, messing around with them.  This is 115x8, onto a step which is, I know, above parallel.  If I take out a riser as I did on some of my earlier sets, it's a touch too low for me to do a full sit onto for many reps with any significant weight.  Will probably continue using both heights to practice. Anyway, how's the form look on these? I was interested in how they were gonna look because they feel weird and like I can't get my feet where they'd be in a regular squat, but meh.  

Oh, and for the fashion-minded, those are the Lulus mentioned in the previous post. I lurve them.