Fitness as we Age

Fitness is a journey, just like health and wellness are a journey.  It is not a destination that you arrive at overnight.  Our fitness will evolve and change as we age, and what worked for us when we were 20 may not work for us when we are 40.  There will be road bumps, injuries, and life that will get in the way over our journey, but that is the beauty of fitness; it evolves with us.  Sometimes the fitness that we want and the fitness that we need may not align, and this is where it can be helpful to take a step back and look at it differently. 

As most of you know, I have done Crossfit for a long time, but it has been pointed out to me, that maybe I never really was a ‘Crossfit-er’. Which is no insult to me.  I love fitness, I love what people get from Crossfit, but it is not Crossfit that I love.  For the last couple of years my fitness has been what I want it to be… not the ‘workout of the day’.  I have gotten away from group fitness, lost some strength, and lack intensity more than I ever have, but do all those things really matter? 

Do I need to do 30 snatches as fast as possible?  Hell no… sorry, but that just is not actually “healthy” for me. 

Do I need to PR my overhead squat?  No. 

Do I need to try to do so many pull-ups or toe-to-bar that my hands are shredded and bloody?  Absolutely not. 

Am I out of shape because my workouts are not as intense as they used to be?  No, I am just in a different kind of shape. 

I do not miss the comparison and competition of the whiteboard.  Yes, I know that this is what makes Crossfit work for so many people, but it is not for everybody.  Chris still beats me on every workout anyways, so my ego is appropriately checked. 

How does our fitness evolve as we get older though?  What happens when your body starts breaking down and you cannot do the things you once could?  Do you keep pushing and fighting to keep going?  Or do you mix things up and give your aging body what it needs?  Ultimately, only you can decide that, but is running that last race worth not being able to play with your kids afterwards? 

This can be a hard pill to swallow.  Take a step back and ask yourself why you want to be in shape.  Most of our answers are probably not as glamorous as we imagine in our heads…a small percentage of us are professional athletes, so what do we really need out of our fitness.  I have had to ask myself this a lot.  Do I really need to be able to squat that weight… is it a big deal that I cannot hit 15 pounds more?  No, it is not.  I just fell down the stairs (yeah, again) and jumping, squatting, pretty much anything hurts right now… so do I really want to push it?  Nope, I just want to get my foot in my ski boot.  I can do kettlebell swings and ride a bike for a few weeks while I heal.  I am trying to give my body what it needs. 

As we age and these road bumps pop up, it is so important to remain flexible in your strategy for keeping up with your fitness.  Remember, that just because you want to be able to do something, does not make it good for you.  If you are in group fitness setting, be comfortable telling your coaches what you can and cannot do.  Do not let yourself get pressured (more likely you are the only one pressuring yourself) in to doing things that are not good for you.  If you have had numerous knee surgeries, are pistols ever really a good idea? 

Do not forget to take that step back and ask yourself “what is your why?”.  You all have heard me talk about that one a lot, so I will not get into it again, but it is so important to answer that question!

My fitness these days is about doing functional (but not stupid) movements that keep me healthy and in shape enough to do the things I love outside of the gym.  My fitness involves weight and resistance training, cardio, HIIT, endurance, and so much more.  I incorporate all sorts of different structures and time domains within these parameters, to keep things varied.  My fitness is what I need it to be and some days that means giving my body a break! Do not be afraid to step out of your normal and try something new…like I said, what once worked for you may not work forever!  

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