By Carl “Redbeard” Simpson
It’s funny how inspiration can hit you sometimes. I wrote a note to myself in my appointment book to find a subject matter for the next article, while looking over our gym at Destin Health and Fitness.
There were groups of people doing all manner of exercises, in all different levels of fitness. I started to walk up to my clients, who had already begun their warm-ups and started flowing into the days training session. I noticed Dianne whip out 25 TRX assisted squats, while her husband Jim was getting to work on his chest press. The more I looked around, the more I noticed the difference in their age to those immediately around them. They were in their 70s and crushing it, while the closest people to them were in their 20s and 30s.
Inspiration hit me like a lightning bolt. It is never too late to kick some butt! For the purpose of this article, I will use the example of a program designed for Jim and Dianne. I find that it will work for most seniors as well as those just beginning to get in shape in any age range.
First, they came to me after having a talk with their physician and learning any limitations they may have. Please check for any medical red flag, such as heart conditions, and be mindful of them as you take on a fitness regimen. I base training around what I believe to be fundamental movements in life. I want what they do in exercise to help them in their daily life.
The first part of daily life is to get up. To improve our abilities to get up, I look for squat movement patterns in various forms. In the beginning, it may be as simple as standing up out of a chair or in a repeated fashion.
After this, we can graduate to assisted or supported squats. I recommend TRX suspension straps, but you can use a rail, rope or even another person. Once we hit a level of comfort, we can move to unassisted air squats and squats under load. In the case of Jim and Dianne, we are doing dumbbell and kettlebell squats for our loaded squats.
Sometimes, we have to get up off the floor. Push-up variations are a big thing here. If getting to the floor is an issue in the beginning, we use a wall. Place yourself a couple of feet from the wall and lean into it. Using your hands against the wall, push yourself to a vertical position. If you are able to get to the floor, you can use knee supported push-ups or go for your standard old-fashioned version. Sometimes, we have to pull ourselves up onto something or off the floor. We use cable and TRX rows, vertical pulls and resistance band pulls to strengthen the back and shoulders.
I also look to improve the ability to carry things as well. That means improving our means of picking something up off the ground, having the strength to carry it, and having the grip to keep it. A big exercise for us is the deadlift. If you have never done one, please have someone help you or at least look up the correct way to perform this movement and practice without heavy load. YouTube has many videos to look at for beginners and seniors.
For Jim and Dianne, we use dumbbells and kettlebells. Deadlifts are a multi-function exercise that hits a ton of muscle groups. We also use farmers’ carries, which are very easy to learn and hard to do. Pick up two objects such as dumbbells or kettlebells that you can safely carry in each hand, with your arms by your side. Then simply walk with them. Find a weight that is safe for you to handle, yet taxing enough to make you quit after 30 seconds. Be careful when placing the weight down, so as not to hurt your back or drop them on your foot.
The next thing we work on is simple. Move! Walk, jog, ride a bike or anything you can enjoy. I cannot stress how important it is to simply move around every day. The heart is a muscle that needs to be worked every day. Find a way you enjoy and work that heart out daily.
These are just the foundational stages of the program we use. A good program will have you increase your strength and help with your mobility. For a shameless plug, check out posturebyiperformance.com for some videos to help you out and some exercise equipment that you can take anywhere.
Dianne and Jim have progressed so far in their fitness journey over the past year. Both have expressed much joy in their increased energy levels, sense of well-being as well as just getting out of the house and making new friends. I use their inspiration in how I coach everyone. Let’s be like them. Embrace your life, improve your life, and live your life!
Feel free to reach out with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Carl “Redbeard” Simpson is a fitness junkie, certified personal trainer and nutritionist, and dedicated martial arts practitioner. He is committed to helping people be the best version of themselves. “Move better – be better – Redbeard Fitness!”