Rock, Fall and Roll

Rock, Fall and Roll

Falling is fun when it’s by choice. It’s not so fun, and sometimes dangerous, when you fall by accident. Active people, not just the feeble, are going to fall. It might be on a hike, on a bike, getting out of a car, putting on your socks, getting out of the shower. The world is loaded with slippery stuff – ice, oil, mud, water - and obstacles like roots, rocks, ruts and curbs.

The secret to avoiding injury when you fall is learning and practicing how to roll your body like this group in the Younger Games, practicing side rolls.

In the Younger Games, we do lots of strength and balance training to stay upright, but sometimes a fall is unstoppable. Rolling de-fangs falls. By rolling, you dissipate the force of a fall over a larger surface of your body rather than just an isolated area like your hip or head.

Rolling requires practice. Through repetition you condition your central nervous system to acclimate and make rolling an automatic response when you sense that you’re going down. You don’t have to think, you just do it. You collapse and curve your body, surrender to gravity, and roll across the surface you fall on.

Many 50+ people are apprehensive about falling, fearful they will get hurt. The problem with this is they avoid falling, then when they do fall they are more apt to go down hard and attempt to arrest the fall with a stiff arm or simply slam down like an inert sack of flour or, worse, a stiff board.

To overcome these apprehensions, we start with simple rolling on the back and sides (in our gym, the floor is padded). Then we get on our knees and fall to the back and the sides. Then we progress to what you see in the video, where we get some velocity and roll onto a safe mat.

Through rolling practice, you make a couple of discoveries. One is that un-young bodies are incredibly strong. You can trust your muscles, tendons, and ligaments, developed with exercise, will perform and protect you. (Note: If you have advanced osteoporosis or another medical condition, consult with your healthcare professional prior to engaging in this type of exercise.) The second is that it’s fun to roll, especially once you  get the hang of it and relax.

There’s no guarantee you won’t get hurt in an accidental fall, no matter what you do. But if you know how to roll, although you might get scrapes and bruises, you won’t break.










Older adults need to jump more. We don’t need to jump too high, too fast, or too long. But we need to jump. Jumping is one of the grand power movements. It’s no wonder you see athletes jump after a win or a good performance. We’re hardwired to jump for joy.

That’s why we always do some type of jumping, specifically low level plyometrics, in the Younger Games. Too often un-young adults think they can’t jump – they’re too weak, it’s dangerous, they forgot how. In fact, they can, they’re not, it’s not, and your body remembers what to do.


Here’s why jumping, in addition to being fun, is so important to your long-term fitness:

- Jumping develops strong and mobile ankles that help you avoid sprains and fractures as well as promotes a strong, stable stride when you walk or run.

- Balance improves because your nervous system and muscles are challenged to make numerous rapid adjustments to keep you upright in a safe posture as you go up and come down. This is the same coordination and control that is the difference between a near fall and falling down.

- Jumping preserves and enhances overall body coordination because you execute a dazzling sequence of muscle movements during the loading (feet compress storing elastic energy, knees bend), flight (muscles contract in feet, knees, hips, propelling upwards), and landing (feet, knees, hips distribute the force through lengthening muscles).

- The mild shock upon landing creates stress on the bones, which stimulates bone growth. This is why jumping is especially important for older adults, especially those with osteopenia.

Contrary to myth, jumping is only unwise for a few people with artificial joints or advanced osteoporosis. If you wonder about yourself, talk to your doctor or physical therapist.

We take a slow, methodical approach to jumping to keep it safe. We make sure feet and ankles are warmed up. We get accustomed to pushing off the toes. We’ll do some agility and low hurdle stepping before we do any actual jumping. We also make sure you know the proper posture for jumping, especially knee and trunk position, as you come down for the landing.

Life’s too short not to jump.





Let Go Your Self-Inflicted Stereotype of Aging

Let Go Your Self-Inflicted Stereotype of Aging

One of the most rewarding aspects of our jobs at Cascade Boomer Fitness is watching people discover they are physically capable of much more than they ever knew. In fact, they are capable of more than many persons who are years younger.


We live in an ageist, youth obsessed culture. It’s a fact. So too often when older people show up at a gym, they feel out-of-place with the tight-bunned, six-pack ab set panting in front of the mirrors or grunting on the machines. The atmosphere seems designed to signal them to hunch over and shuffle  to a “senior” facility to try chair dancing or Golden Years Ultra-Gentle Yoga.

For your own well-being, it’s important for you to let go of this older = feeble and fragile stereotype. Many of your physical limitations are imaginary and self-imposed. With exercise, your biological age can become younger than your chronological age, as you discover in exercise regimens like the Younger Games.

Yet another study has been released showing the positive biological clock-reversing effects of exercise that you can read about in this NY Times article. Two things are worth noting about this study. The first is that exercise does not stop all the physical declines that come with time; like they say, ultimately there ain’t no way to get out of life alive.

But the second is that exercise is the closest thing to the fountain of youth that there is, albeit with a few more aches and pains. Exercising older adults don’t end up looking like Beyoncé, however, they end up with things that are much more important – strength, range of motion, coordination and resilience.

About a year ago, a physician friend of ours in Colorado who’s in his mid-sixties got up at dawn to go for a routine run. He runs, lifts weights, and occasionally swims. It was dark and he stepped on a patch of ice and went down hard on the pavement. He knew immediately he had fractured his femur near the entry to the hip socket. A good Samaritan stopped and gave him a ride to the emergency room, where they immediately did an x-ray. When the radiologist came into the room holding the film, he got a surprised look on his face upon seeing the grey haired patient on the gurney. He said, “Judging by the overall condition of the bone, I was expecting a much younger man.” A surgery with three four-inch titanium screws and a year of recovery later, he ran the grueling Moab Half-Marathon.

That’s why you want to let go any self-inflicted stereotypes of aging.




Let It Go

Let It Go

If you have young grandkids, for the past year you likely heard – again and again and again – the song “Let It Go” from Frozen, the 2013 Disney animated movie. Although the lyrics are childish (Disney knows their market), the title is a gem of wisdom for people of all ages.


To make your exercise classes more fun, effective, and safer in the New Year, here are some things to let go.

Clinging to past accomplishments – If you were once a super (in our memories, we were always super) jock and super strong or super flexible, be happy once you were super. Don’t be haunted that you could once run a mile in under 6 minutes with an all out effort. That was then, this is now. What can you do now with an all out effort? A challenge is always there. Judge accomplishments by the degree of effort you put into the challenge.

Comparisons to others - So what if the woman in the next circuit can do kettlebell swings with 10 lbs more than you and she’s five years older. Everybody has their own genetics, medical issues,  musculoskeletal problems, motivations and biorhythms. You can’t compare apples to apples or you to another person. Compare your most recent self to your just past self. Are you making progress getting stronger or improving your endurance? That’s the only comparison that matters.

Class competition – A little competition can be a strong motivator to train. But it’s one thing to be in a formal sports competition with people of similar training and skills and another to be trying to keep the same pace/performance level as someone a decade younger in your exercise class. The problem with competition is that you will push beyond your limits and risk injury, e.g., he’s doing 100 lbs, I’ll do 120. In an exercise class, there are no gold medals, podiums or TV cameras. It’s a class, it’s just you and everyone else working out, breathing hard, sweating and trying to get fitter. The activity is the prize.

Hoping for miracle cures – No amount of exercise will cure an anatomical deformity. If you are weak and prone to injury in a certain joint, carefully targeted exercises can strengthen and protect it. But if it’s altered and damaged, no amount of exercise will fix it. This is especially true for older athletes who have over-use injuries from doing too much of something they enjoy(ed). These injuries do not go away, and they become worse if the action that caused the injury continues to be repeated. To avoid further injury, the only solution is to significantly cut back on the activity or stop altogether. Find a new challenge that relies on undamaged parts of your body.

Expecting to recapture your youth - Exercise can reverse the biological clock but not your chronological age. You do improve unseen, important biomarkers like blood pressure and blood lipid profiles, and visible ones like muscle tone and posture. However, we only get to be a fit young adult once. Now it’s time to be a fit older adult. There will be wrinkles, less muscle, tighter joints – all those things about aging that bother us. But we’re fit and can still do lots of things we did when younger, maybe just a little slower. That’s good enough.

The final “it” to let go are the self-imposed limitations we put on ourselves due to age. That’s a topic unto itself for our next blog.

It’s a brand new year. Let’s let go of all the “it’s” that discourage, distract, postpone, increase risk, waste time and demotivate.

Now that we’ve let it go, let’s go for it. See you in the gym.