I recently was telling someone about a exercise class I once saw. The entire class was based around a chair. Yes, a chair. The chair was the “gym” and it didn’t even have a Rogue Fitness badge anywhere on it.
As I watched the class, it was obvious that it was intended for the elderly. I image whoever thought of it had the good intentions of getting elderly folks moving around – and where better to start this than on the piece of furniture many spend most of their time glued to.
Even still, the actual movements were so rudimentary that I wondered who this class would actually be useful for?
It started with ankle circles and knee raises, moving on to shoulder shrugs and small arm circles, with the more advanced part of the class involving sitting and standing and walking around the chair.
This whole class was done in the basketball court of a large gym I was working at, so to attend this class you had to get to the gym in the first place, which was something probably more strenuous than the actual class itself.
Now, I realize the importance of being functionally active and strong long into your twilight years, and I’m sure that this type of class could be a starting point, a springboard for more, but for many this would be the pinnacle of their physical activity, which is a little sad.
On thing I do know for sure, is that that if you think thoughts long enough, they become your reality, so in this case, thinking old people are weak and slow and limited (and treating them as such) means they also embody this thinking and eventually become those things.
I believe that , as much as children should be jumping squatting, lifting, throwing, pulling, pushing etc. surely the elderly should be doing the same!
When I was getting qualified as a trainer there was even a specific course called “Special Populations” which addressed the training needs and skills required to coach the massively obese, the elderly and children. The specials! The course treated them as clients that you had to assume could do very little, and small things like moving around independently were huge gains.
This is all well and good if your sights are set low, but I hope that when I am in my 80’s I’ll have laid down such a strong foundation of excellent nutrition and built a fortress of fitness for my body by doing CrossFit, that mere standing up from a chair isn’t an “exercise”.
Its easy to think short term about our performance in workouts -how fast we were or how much weight was lifted, so the long term benefit is often overlooked or ignored. We are odd, impatient creatures who are sometime stubborn and short sighted. If it hurts we stop doing it. It takes too long to achieve our desired result, so again we stop doing it. That is the voice of your own mini devil on your shoulder. Sometimes you listen, sometimes you don’t.
Research tells us that 6 months or more on an exercise program or routine is the golden amount of time where significant changes take place. With constant variation and significant weight bearing movements what we do today will make that workout with a chair totally obsolete in 30 years time.
If you start and stick with a great program in a CrossFit gym for 2 years or more, your life will be fulfilled in more ways than you may realize now. It’s the cheapest investment for the ultimate greatest outcome that many of us take for granted.