Welcome to the COCC Younger Games

Welcome to the COCC Community Learning Younger Games

For those of you signing up for the first COCC winter class that starts Jan. 5 at 10:15, here’s what your first class will be like.

After taking a few minutes to get liability waivers signed and make introductions, we’ll start with a head-to-toe dynamic warm-up to get muscles and joints ready to go.

We go right into some light agility drills with hurdles, cones, and an agility ladder. Don’t worry if you haven’t done this  in a while (or ever). We go slow and you will learn fast. We’ll also do some balance work.

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After a short rest, we do some classic bodyweight exercises. This gives us a chance to see where we are as a class with respect to strength and any physical limitations.

After another short rest, we will do a mini-circuit using some stability balls and bands. These will be pretty basic, but will get progressively challenging through the weeks.

We’ll finish up with some fun ball play. You never know what we’ll do with balls.

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Then we’ll finish up with a cool down. It’ll feel good.

You’ll have a taste of what’s to come!

Make sure to bring some water. We’ll be working out barefooted or in socks. Shoes are not allowed on the mats.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Soreness Sweet Spot

The Soreness Sweet Spot

Sometimes people interpret the muscle soreness they feel a day or two after a workout as a sign they are too weak to exercise or need to drop down a notch in intensity. In fact, soreness is normal, even in young, skilled athletes and experienced, older exercisers.

Not only that, soreness is an essential, transient phase that is repeated over and over again on the path to achieving and maintaining fitness. It’s a positive signal that the muscles and tendons are rebuilding.

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Our bodies work in strange and miraculous ways. One of them is that they get stronger when subjected to mechanical stress, whether moving against a load, moving faster, or moving in new directions. All of these are included in the Younger Games.

Exercise, especially against resistance with bodyweight against gravity, bands or weights, naturally causes very small microscopic tears in the muscle tissue. During recovery immediately after a workout, the body sends antibodies to the sites of the tears to fight infection. Internally, the presence of these antibodies starts a mild inflammation, much like when you get a minor scratch your skin.

But in addition, within one or two hours after your workout the sites also receive a dose of proteins, growth factors, testosterone, and satellite cells. These both repair the damaged muscle strands and grow new ones. This process lasts from two to three days. The end result is that the soreness subsides and the muscles are stronger than they were before.

Completing this stress/recovery process through exercise is essential for older adults because it has been shown by research to slow, even sometimes reverse, the muscle wasting (called sarcopenia) that starts in early middle age and accelerates through the years.

There is no way to perform high quality workouts and not experience some soreness later. This is especially true in the Younger Games because with the steady mix of resistance, power, and intensity, as well as an emphasis on total body exercise, many different muscles are challenged at each session. However, because no two consecutive sessions are the same and we use a variety of exercises with a limited number of repetitions, by design muscles get ample time to recover and avoid overuse or injury.

Soreness is not an objective in itself. A good workout doesn’t necessarily mean you should feel very sore the next day. Soreness is spread throughout the muscles that were worked, say your hips or shoulders, not only in a specific joint. There’s a soreness sweet spot where you are gently reminded of the muscles you worked, maybe you are able to connect it to a specific exercise, but you’re fully capable of enjoying everyday activities.

Knowing some soreness comes with the territory, the question arises: What can be done to minimize it?

- Remaining well-hydrated both during and after exercise will help because ample fluid in your body assists rapid healing.
- Some find using a foam roller can lessen it, although this is of more help with the larger muscles in the legs than with smaller muscles.
- If the soreness is interrupting your sleep, you can take a NSAID like ibuprofen, although it’s better not to get into that habit because frequent use these drugs can cause serious side effects.
- Finally, if you feel too sore to exercise, skip a class. Do some easy cardio like go for a walk or ride a bike. Do some yoga.

When you exercise week to week, you find that soreness sweet spot where it doesn’t last long or get in your way. You’ll become stronger, then it’s time to workout and feel sore again to get even stronger. That’s how it all works.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Training for Fun

Training for Fun

Check this list of worthy fitness goals. Notice anything missing? Here’s a hint: It’s not physical.

1. Strength
2. Power
3. Coordination
4. Agility
5. Flexibility
6. Endurance
7. Balance
8. Metabolic health

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What’s missing from the list is FUN. Joe Gold, the founder of Gold’s Gym, said, “That’s the object of going to a gym, having fun.” Decades ago he understood attaining fitness is more than grunting, groaning, and gasping.  While there’s no substitute for exercise that makes you do all those things, you need to have some fun while you’re exercising or you won’t keep doing it.

That’s why in the Younger Games we also do lots of fun drills and games where you throw, lift, reach, jump, crawl, run, leap, push, punch, and flop. Some of the most worthwhile training happens in these games and drills because they emulate real-life movements and situations more than the typical gym exercises for a specific muscle group. They use your total body, and often require you to think because you’re going to do more than one thing at once. You have to perform a challenging physical feat. Your only competition is your own limits, not another person.

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Sure, we also do a variety of conventional exercises with weights, ropes, bands, tubes, stability balls, agility ladders and other apparatus. All of these are necessary to make us strong, resilient, and physically competent. There’s no escape from sweat and effort. We feel some discomfort and get tired. But it’s all worth it.

Just like pro athletes training for their sports, we are training for life. And you never feel more alive than when you’re having fun.

 

Appointment to Exercise

Appointment to Exercise

Last week, a Younger Games participant came into the gym, shivering and bundled up against the bitter cold outside. She said although didn’t feel like exercising that morning, she was there anyway because she considered her class just like an appointment with her doctor or masseuse. She explained that she considers exercise is part of her personal “health plan.”

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What an astute statement! In fact, more and more research shows the health benefits of exercise on every system and function in the body. Consider just a few that are especially important for older adults:

Brain – stimulates release of Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) that helps with memory and executive function (like you need to multi-task when driving a car).

Bones – stimulates development of bone cells to help prevent osteoporosis and bone fractures.

Heart – lowers blood pressure and improves cardiac function.

Muscle – develops and strengthens skeletal muscle to preserve balance and increase metabolic rate to normalize blood sugar and oxidize excess fat.

Immune function – ensures circulation of lymph to distribute nutrients and antibodies throughout your body.

Sexual function – promotes ample blood supply and nerve sensitivity in sexual organs

Skin – encourages new cell growth, faster wound healing, and collagen formation.

Bowel – improves digestion and transit of food through the gut.

Both healthy persons and those combating a chronic disease enjoy these benefits if they regularly exercise.

This Younger Games exerciser is disciplined. By treating her exercise schedule as a serious obligation to herself, an appointment rather than a choice subject to whim or mood, she has made exercise a habit.

As a result, she feels the health benefits every minute of her life.