Athletic Then, Unfit Now
One time a late 60-ish guy came in to give The Younger Games a try. Chatting with other members of the group while waiting for the warm-up to start, he made it a point for everyone to know he was once a formidable athlete in multiple sports and still a very competitive pickelball player and avid hiker.
Every so often in The Younger Games, we don’t do a workout using any machines, ketlebells or any other equipment. We just use our bodyweight, the most important mass to be able to control, both in your life or a sport. He happened to walk in on one of those days.
The workout was simple and straightforward 10 reps of 24 different basic bodyweight exercises, like push-ups and squat jumps, going from one exercise to another with a very short break between each one. There’s nothing like a basic bodyweight workout to reveal your strengths and weaknesses.
After a brisk warm-up, the group ran some low hurdles to work on agility. He could go forwards, but not sideways with any quickness and stability. He was already tired when the strength work got underway. A few exercises along, he couldn’t finish 10 reps anymore with good form. He couldn’t hold himself for a plank (the starting position for a push-up) without sagging or lift his upper back off the floor in a V-up. He couldn’t get up off the floor without using his hands. He had to skip reps or half the exercises in the last quarter of the bodyweight session. Unfortunately, he left humbled and embarrassed.
Plenty of Boomers think they are “fit” because decades ago they were athletes and still participate in games like golf, tennis and pickelball, all of which are fun and easy. While it’s great they do this because all movement is good, their single-minded focus on their sport/game, to the degree that’s all they have time for, overlooks a couple of advantages they would gain if they faced reality.
The first is they would be more successful in their sport if they actually trained their body all dimensions of fitness. Real athletes in any sport devote hours of hard training in body basics like strength, coordination, agility and flexibility for every few minutes on the field, court, pitch, diamond, sand pit, etc.
Another is overall body conditioning is the best defensive strategy a person has to prevent injury, whether in a sport of everyday life. Even in tame games like pickelball, people injure themselves with muscle pulls and broken bones because they aren’t fit enough to perform through the required range of motion or protect themselves when they fall. Their competitive juices exceed their physical abilities. Because they don’t train their bodies, they get hurt and are robbed of the very thing they enjoy the most – playing their game.
A sport you like to play is a wonderful thing. You meet people, get out of the house, and move. On good days when your game is on, you conjure up happy memories of that young fit self you once were when you trained.
But that was then. This is now. Like the guru said: Be here now.