Keep on Rollin

Keep on Rollin

There’s no substitute for doing some side rolls on the floor, like the CBFer is doing in this short video.

His form is great.  If this were Olympic ice skating, he’d get a 10 out of 10. Most important, his form is safe. Note these:

- The nice collapse of his arm onto his chest that helps round the shoulder for contact with the ground. This both starts to dissipate the force of his falling body and protects the shoulder complex.

- There is straight spinal alignment from his head to his tail bone. No twisting. A strong core keeps the shoulders parallel to his hips. His strong neck muscles keep his head safely off the floor.

- The rolls are relaxed. His body is lightly braced, but not stiff, which enables a smooth, non-jarring transition from one side to another.

There are real benefits to getting on the floor and rolling that are just as important and effective as lifting weights.

You stimulate sensorimotor system that lets you know where you are in space. This helps with balance and body awareness.

Gravity forces lymph, a key part of our immune system that relies mainly on muscle contractions for circulation, to move in novel ways, similar to yoga.

Your joints and spine are subjected to light, quickly changing forces that stretch and lubricate tendons, ligaments, and other connective tissue. When these are routinely stressed, just like muscles they get stronger.

Rolling can be relaxing. Like massage, it just feels good.

Last but not least, rolling is a critical skill if you take an accidental fall. Skilled rollers get up with fewer injuries.

That’s why in the Younger Games we get down on the mats and rock and roll.




Why the Gauntlet Rocks

Why the Gauntlet Rocks

Watching this video, you might think these CBFer’s are just having some fun playing a funny game. You’d be right, although there’s more going on than meets the eye.

They are actually developing and practicing important mental and physical skills, such as:

Executive function – the fancy name for the interplay between different parts of your brain to assess a situation, make a decision, and act quickly when necessary. It’s the same thing you do when you drive into busy intersection in a car.

Coordination & agility - going through the gauntlet, the runner must rapidly start and stop, otherwise s/he stumbles, over steps, and gets hit. Staying upright and balanced while moving quickly is a handy and youthful skill to avoid moving objects and avoid falling.

Power – to navigate safely between the balls, the runner must tap Type II fast twitch fibers in the lower leg, the same ones used to maintain a strong walking gait (a known positive marker for longevity), leap mud puddles, or push a heavy bag into the overhead bin on an airplane.

The work we do to develop a particular muscle or muscle group, like we do at circuit stations, is important too, but the real functional test is how you perform using your whole body in games where you have to think and move fast.

Whether or not you make it through untouched, you can’t help but smile.





Caryl – Big Power in a Little Package

Caryl – Big Power in a Little Package

Caryl, age 61, started the path to exercise  playing with her brothers and sisters in the back yard. In high school, she was a cheer leader in the fall and played softball in the spring.

In early adulthood, she didn’t exercise a lot until she discovered Jazzercise, which she did off and on between babies. She found she liked group fitness, rather than working out at home, for the mutual support and camaraderie.

Over the past 30 years, Caryl became a dedicated exerciser for several reasons. She likes the way it makes her feel. Several years ago she had a serious neck injury so she especially likes to do upper body strength work for cervical stability and protection. Last but not least, she exercises because, in her words, “I wanna move.”

As you’ll see in this video, she moves really well and exercises hard, and not just in the gym – last summer she completed a triathlon.

Joanne – Hard Core Exerciser

Joanne – Hard Core Exerciser

A self-described tomboy in her youth, Joanne, age 76, was raised in the country, where her exercise consisted of climbing trees or walking up and down a hill to school. She never participated in school sports activities because girls were encouraged to cook and sew.

But her life changed when she moved to California in her early twenties. She blossomed as an outdoor athlete. She learned to ride horses, play tennis, and downhill ski. She did yoga and ran to stay fit.

Then Joanne discovered a passion for adventure in back packing, rock climbing, mountaineering and ski mountaineering.  She spent eight years as a cross-country ski patroller.

As she approached  ”senior” status, she realized that she needed to participate in more structured exercise so she could continue to keep her body moving, hiking and skiing. She says she now craves exercise for both her body and mind. Her job can be demanding and exercise keeps her centered.

As you’ll see in this video, she’s an experienced exerciser with excellent form. She’s had her share of injuries and physical wear and tear, including a broken ankle about a year ago, but you’d never know it. She’s hard core.

The Hidden Rewards of Fitness

The Hidden Rewards of Fitness

When people set fitness goals at the onset of the New Year, they are encouraged by trainers and professionals to set measurable goals – like to lose 5 pounds or be able to run 3 miles in under 30 minutes or be able to progress from 10 to 20 push-ups. There’s nothing wrong with this and, yes, it can help you look better naked when you stand in front of a mirror.

However, many of the most valuable and important rewards from being fit, especially for older adults, are not measurable. They are non-obvious or hidden. In fact, you may never be aware of them unless, like Scrooge in Dickens’s “Christmas Carol,” you could see how your life turned out had you been a sedentary sloth.


So what are these non-obvious, hidden rewards?

Usefulness – This means you can do things of use to you and others. You can carry a bag of dog food or stack some firewood. You are able to lift a grandchild into a high chair while your daughter serves the family dinner. You can change the tire along the deserted road when your car has a flat. You can toss your own bag into the overhead bin on an airplane.

Resilience – You don’t get sick so easily. You slip on the ice but don’t fall, and if you do, you get up with a bruise, not a broken bone. You can go for a long  hike up a mountain with your family. You don’t pull your back when you lift and rotate with a shovel loaded with snow from your sidewalk.

Grace – You can get in and out of a kayak unassisted. You don’t slump over using your cart as a walker when you get groceries. You don’t have to put your hand on a table to get up after having a cup of coffee. You can get up and down when you garden. You walk fast when you want to. You can get out-of-the-way and stay on your feet when neighbor’s large dog jumps towards you to say hello.

Playfulness – You can play and dance – upright. You still got mojo and a body able to rock. You can safely do your sport or hobby that requires coordination, agility and strength. You can play with kids or adults. You can ride. You’re not stuck, seated at a table playing cards.

These are the real rewards of fitness that you can’t quantify, but you feel.


Ron – Keepin It Goin

Ron – Keepin It Goin

Ron, age 65, played organized and “unorganized” sports in his youth, and in his words, “never grew up.” He was still playing lots of sports when, seven years ago, he suffered a severe lower leg injury that required surgery, forcing  him to give up a few of them.

Despite on-going issues with his leg, he still Telemark skis, hikes, plays volleyball, and does white water rafting.

In the gym, he focuses on muscle tone and flexibility. He says when he was younger, he just played and was “too” lazy to work on his flexibility. Although he knows developing strength and flexibility takes more effort when you’re older, he believes they are key factors in avoiding injury.

Ron’s “tryin to keep it goin.”  As he says, “If you’re not prepared for it,” he observes, “you pay the price.”

As you’ll see in this video, Ron trains hard to play hard. He has no plans to grow up any time soon.