As you get older, your relationship with fitness may change. You may consign yourself to a life of submission, believing that because your body is ageing, there won’t be much you can do to fight the inevitable and keep your body thriving as it did when you were younger.
But that isn’t the case. Just take a look at Terry Crews, Mark Wahlberg, Greg Norman and even Arnold Schwarzenegger. These men prove that if you commit to keeping fit, you can get results. Your only enemy is your mind.
Rich Roll, an American ultra-endurance athlete who, at the age of 55 continues to buck the trend and prove that older people can indeed keep up with their younger brethren, has recently taken to Instagram to share some words of wisdom.
Rich hasn’t been a superfit human his entire life, either. In fact, it wasn’t until he was approaching his 40th birthday when he was unable to walk up a flight of stairs that he decided enough was enough, and he was going to make himself better.
One of Rich’s most valuable teachings is to “train where you are.” This doesn’t mean using any space you find yourself in as a place to work out, such as in your home or in a hotel. Instead, he means to train based on your current physical state and to not compare yourself to a younger version of yourself.
“It’s hard to resist comparing your current self to your fittest self,” he begins. “As we get older this becomes nothing more than fodder for self-flagellation, the pace clock and GPS watch no longer a tool but rather an instrument of dread.”
“Let it go. Accept your current state whatever that may be. Let go of measuring metrics to past performances. Root your feet in the present moment and embrace that reality as a foundation upon which to enthusiastically build.”
He goes on to talk about how simply committing to a training program, no matter the exercise (you should always just perform exercises that you feel comfortable doing) is far more beneficial than how hard you go. “Consistency wins. This is true regardless of age, but the older I get the more central it has become,” he relates.
“What you do daily and incrementally far exceeds in importance the volume/or intensity of the output. Day in day out. Rise. Repeat. Sustainability reigns supreme.”
His final lesson relates to placing greater importance on areas you may have overlooked in your younger years. For most youngsters walking into the gym, the goal will be to lift as much weight as possible, despite the numerous experts telling us to leave the ego at the door (and that lifting lighter and training to failure can be just as, if not more beneficial.”
As you get older, you really need to be focusing on the little things that, when done correctly, add up to result in a much healthier you, both physically and mentally.
“Youth permits leniency. You can get away with a lot. But age does not forgive, it reveals.”
“What was overlooked is never denied overtime. So what may have once been secondary or optional must now take centre stage: nutrition, recovery, sleep, core work, functional fitness, stretching – the laundry list is long but you get the idea.”
“It’s the annoying stuff that sucks time away from ‘the workout’ itself that must become ‘the workout’. I’ve learned my lesson the hard way on this one, now managing significant lower back issues I know could have been prevented.”
Rich’s post has received thousands of likes and comments, virtually all of them reaping praise for his teachings.
“Nicely said. I’m 10+ yrs up on ya and it’s harder work now for fewer gains but I’ll be damned if I’ll give up. Simply can’t put a price tag on good health and all one can do is be aware of what could be lurking and work to prevent it,” says one user.
“Accepting my new normal at 62. My body has spoken. Kinder gentler approach to fitness. Running is off the table. Walk, Bike, Swim, Yoga, Hike. It’s all still good,” says another.
It can certainly be difficult to take Rich’s advice onboard, especially if you’ve already got into the mental state of believing that no matter what you do, you won’t be able to fight the signs of ageing. But, if you can accept that you won’t get results overnight, then you’ve already conquered half of the battle.
Keep going. Never give up. And you’ll soon realise how much better you feel in yourself. Even if you don’t end up with that elusive six-pack.