The Younger Games is about more than just developing physical attributes like strong muscle, coordination, agility and balance. It’s also about developing a key mental faculty called grit, a simple word that embraces mental toughness, resilience, persistence, determination, patience, hope against all odds and fearlessness.
Although much advertising for senior fitness feature older adults lifting tiny dumbbells with cheesy grins on their faces, the truth is that if the workout is worthwhile, most of the smiles come between exercises and after the workout is finished.
The types of exercise that bring real, lasting benefits are challenging. For short intervals of time, you are in the Discomfort Zone. You breathe hard and your heart beats fast. You aren’t smiling. You’re sweating, your lips are stretched tight to draw in oxygen, your face is scrunched with concentration and effort.
This is where grit comes in. Grit gets you through when fatigue starts to set in and muscles begin to burn, you think you can’t do one more squat or hold your balance one more second or do one more medicine ball slam. Because you have grit, you do it. . You know it won’t last forever. You’ll survive. You keep going.
In the Younger Games, our exercisers perform physical feats they haven’t attempted in years, if ever. The workouts aren’t always easy. Their challenges are even greater because, as is the case with most older adults, they have one or more physical limitations due to old injuries or illness. They may be a little apprehensive at first.
But soon find out they are capable of more than then even knew. That’s when you see the smiles. They know they’ve got grit.