Fitness After 50
Last Sunday, I did a 4-mile run that helped me to cross the 1000 mile mark on my Nike Running Club App. Even though it took me 2 years and 220 runs (if you do the math you will see I am a fairly lazy runner) I experienced a deep sense of satisfaction that I would have foregone in the past, choosing instead to focus always on “what’s next”.
I reflected on what fitness means for me now at 53 and how it contrasts with the value I placed on exercise when I started teaching over 15 years ago.
At 38 (and then well into my forties), I wanted to look good and perform at the top of my age group, whether it was PIlates, yoga, strength training, or running.
The drive toward constant improvement, while a powerful motivator at the time, nevertheless points one’s nose, chin and eyes toward an ever receding horizon. Had you told me this at the time, I would have agreed with you politely but argued passionately that the desire for the chase forward helps fuel our efforts toward self-efficacy, self-mastery, even self-transcendence.
At 53, I feel different now. I find myself taking time to look at the good work I have done to date and appreciate it. I have built up self-efficacy, and in some ways I have accomplished varying levels of mastery in moving, teaching, and running a small business. I don’t think I’ve ever transcended my self and I don’t know that I need to now. I find myself focusing instead on liking the self that I have, in spite of it’s foibles.
Yes, I still plan, and I still sign up for events that give me a training goal, something that works well for many people and will continue to be something I recommend for everyone. But I find myself enjoying the process now, in real time, more than the thrill of closing in on, or surpassing, the goal. In the case of the 1000 mile-marker I crossed, what I see and appreciate now are all the three and four-mile runs that by themselves are insignificant, but when strung together produce a level of consistent activity that feels deeply rewarding. Even though I post research articles monthly about the benefits of daily activity, it feels as though my emotional brain is just now warming to the idea.
When I think about the future, I am less pre-occupied with a specific number in the way that I used to be, such as a body weight or lean mass percentage, or an amount of weight lifted or squatted. Instead I find myself repeatedly asking the question, “what do I need to do to keep myself moving as well as I can, for as long as I can, with the time I have left?”
I still do Pilates and yoga, and I lift weights and run like before. The difference is on the inside, a felt appreciation for all the things I can still do, and a desire to prolong this freedom of movement for as long as I am able.
Many of us in the studio are over 50 now, and I can’t help but wonder if you’ve experienced a shift in your understanding of why exercise matters to you. In what ways does the work that we do with you at Practice Fitness help you to achieve gains, or relieve pains, in the many jobs that you perform in your home, office, and community?
As we move into 2019 and our second decade of service as a studio, I continue to be as curious as ever about what moves you to keep moving, and I would love to dialogue with you about this. If you are interested in speaking with me, please reply by email to let me know so we can set up some time to meet. Regardless, I may reach out to you anyway because, in the same way that I feel my own priorities shifting as a maturing exerciser, I want to better understand you and how you understand yourself in this present life stage. What matters most to you? How can we help you with this?
Best wishes to you and your family for a happy New Year,