The Reluctant Exerciser

The Reluctant Exerciser

On any one day, any of us can be a reluctant exerciser. We’re there at the gym but wonder why because we don’t feel like exercising.


You can tell when people come in the door and hear the standard greeting ” Good morning, how are you?” and don’t really answer. Instead they mumble something about not feeling very energetic, make a slight grimace and point to a body part, or shrug as if to say, “Who knows?”

You can also see that some feel a little apprehension. Their eyes quickly survey the equipment they’ll soon be using to gauge the difficulty of the workout. Their faces say it all: “Ugh, those battling ropes,” “Oh, oh, a crawling obstacle,” “Oh, no, there’s the rope, here go my quads,” “Please, anything but kettlebells…”

This is a very normal reaction. When you know you are going to exert like we do in The Younger Games (or a good home workout for that matter) and sweat, breath hard, and feel some discomfort, it’s not surprising one part of you would like to go get a cup of hot coffee and find a nice spot to sit and watch paddle boarders on the Deschutes. Even very committed and experience exercisers feel this once in a while.

Sometimes that reluctance comes from fear an old injury will get aggravated, or performance anxiety because you’ll be judged by trainers and the rest of the class, or you feel run down, stressed, not with it.

The good news is you are there, whether reluctant or not, ready to go, for better or worse. (When the reluctance is really acute, you’ll find an excuse and not be.)

The great miracle of exercise is that if you do it, you get benefits which are almost automatic. One is that as you get deeper into the workout and feel the burn of working muscles, the feel good endorphins start to flow and flood your entire body.

After your workout, the muscles relax and your pulse returns to normal, but the exercise afterglow lasts for hours. You wonder why you felt so reluctant to do something that makes you feel so good.






Time Warp to Possible

Time Warp to Possible

If you read this blog, you’ve likely been around long enough to remember a 1962 episode of The Twilight Zone called “Kick the Can” about some older adults languishing in a nursing home who  break the rules and going outside to play a children’s game. When they do, they feel much younger and happier.

time warp 2

What they discovered is not just TV fantasy. It’s a profound and welcome scientific fact.

Back in 1981, a Harvard social psychologist named Ellen Langer did a ground breaking experiment where she took some men in their 70s and placed them in a home that was appointed exactly like a home in 1959. The men were instructed to remember, think and act like they were back then. The results were astounding, as you will discover when you read about the work of Ellen Langer in this thought-provoking NY Times article by Bruce Grierson.

A pioneer in identifying and exposing the grim American myth of ageism, Langer got it right: a positive, younger attitude will make you feel and perform younger. As she teaches to this day, when you practice the psychology of the possible, you find your attitude influences how fast you age. Think old, you’ll act old. Think younger, you act younger.

Fast forward another 30 years since Langer’s mind-boggling research. Now we know she was missing the major factor, in addition to attitude, that enables a person to into the time warp and come out younger – EXERCISE. Extensive research shows exercise is the magic elixir to slow, even sometimes, reverse the effects of aging of every system in your body, as explained so well by Joseph Signorile, PhD, in his book Bending the Aging Curve. With the right exercise, your functional age can be less than your chronological age.

We combine attitude and exercise in The Younger Games to find out what’s possible for each of us. We don’t think old, we don’t exercise old. We aren’t fooling ourselves that we’ll become kids or immortal, but we do become more capable, confident, and physically competent – for our age.

To  become biologically younger, you don’t have to enter The Twilight Zone, just go to the gym.






Like life itself, the Younger Games at CBF are unpredictable. Every workout has some surprises.

Unlike the McGym where you face the same machines and standard exercise recipes, you never know what challenge you will have to meet on any particular day. No two Younger Games are ever the same.


One of the reasons we take this approach, in addition to the fun of it, is to be resilient – meet unexpected physical challenges without injury and adapt and recover quickly. So when you come in the door to participate in the Younger Games, you never know what you will do. But, by finding a way to do it, regardless of your moods, mental distractions and biorythms that day, you get resilient.

There’s a simple reason so many people like to walk and jog or mindlessly trudge along on treadmills or spin on stationary bikes. It’s really easy. Sure, you get winded (good for the heart and lungs) and use some large muscles. But it’s very one-dimensional. Many parts of the body remain idle and unused and in older adults actually waste away from disuse.

It’s quite the opposite in the Younger Games. We get breathless too, but more important,  we regularly engage every muscle and bone in our bodies from a variety of angles, intensities, and speeds to get stronger and more flexible. We also use exercise to stimulate cognitive development because you have to pay attention, react, coordinate and multi-task.

Developing well-rounded body resilience is why we do so many whole body exercises, interspersed with mini-workouts focused on  wrists and hands, hips, feet, ankles and lower leg, core and shoulder mobility and strength in three-dimensional space.

When our participants see what the workout will be, maybe a new obstacle or type of exercise, it’s not unusual to hear some groans. Afterwards, you hear lots of laughter. They did it and know they are ready for whatever surprises life brings outside the gym.











Life Athletes

Life Athletes

When the thirty-ish tattooed barista at Starbucks asked about what we do, she was surprised at the answer, likely because she was imagining a bunch of feeble geezers chair dancing or waving around 2 lb dumb bells. Her eyes grew wide with disbelief upon hearing we do high-energy workouts that would challenge even the youngest and fittest.


What she doesn’t understand yet (but will when she’s a little older, sooner than she knows) is that many 50 plus adults are still athletic, and always will be. People exercising at CBF have been very active all their lives and are getting more active, not less, now that child-rearing, climbing career ladders, and all that is fading into the past.

They exercise hard to preserve and further develop all their basic athletic skills – speed, power, balance, agility, coordination – because they are true athletes. They participated in team sports or dance or rock climbing and still do.  They cycle, run, back pack, kayak, raft, hike, ski downhill or x-c. For some, exercise itself was their sport.

Regardless of their individual pursuits, they all share that unique joy felt by all athletes in the strength, body-competence, and grace that comes from sweat and exertion. Although there will be future payoffs for their efforts as they age in lower medical costs, longer independent living, and vibrant participation in life, the biggest payoff is they can enjoy their lives to the fullest right now.

It would have been nice to explain all this to the barista, but there wasn’t time. There was a long line waiting for their lattes, and it was almost time for me to head to the gym