The Art of Jumping

The Art of Jumping

Jumping – lifting your body against gravity, feet rising off the ground, a moment of weightlessness, then coming back down. There’s no other sensation like it. In our sit-on-your butt society, especially among 50+ adults, it’s an endangered art. However, at CBF, we constantly train for and practice jumping.

Here’s why. Jumping develops leg power. Leg power enables dynamic balance and agility. You need power to walk, run, dodge, push, pull, bound, leap, punch, and play. Once your leg power starts to fail, your world gets smaller, more limited and dangerous, and much less fun.

Here are some positive signs of fitness in this video:

- These jumpers have developed strong muscles and tendons in their feet and lower leg that enable them to rapidly spring up off their feet.

- Their foot action is coordinated with and augmented by forceful contractions in the large muscles at both the knees and hips that accelerate them upwards.

- Upon landing, the very same muscles in the legs and hips that contracted to lift them up are then stretching to decelerate the force as they come down. Their landings are safe because they have the leg strength to absorb their full body weight in those large muscles, without transferring any undue stresses to weaker body areas, especially in the lower back.

- From head to hips they remain long and straight, centered between bending knees that do not collapse inwards upon contact. As a result, they make controlled landings.

They jump so confidently and safely because they have done lots of foot stretching and strengthening, innumerable squats and lunges with various loads for hip and knee strength, and many planks to develop their cores.

Cool music. Cool jumpers.










Carol – True Grit

Carol – True Grit

Carol, age 71 and a former school teacher, is amazing when you realize what happened to her less than a year ago.

She describes herself as a farm/ranch kid, always outdoors, either doing chores or riding a bike. In high school she played some volleyball, baseball, and soccer.  By the time she was an adult and busy teaching, her exercise was mainly farm chores and riding horses.

Throughout her life, Carol always rode horses. Last September, her horse reared back and fell on her. The force broke seven ribs, her collarbone, and fractured and punctured her elbow.

Not one to let things get in her way, she recovered fully and is back at it. She’s involved in a working cow horse project, and doing ranch chores, like changing the irrigation and pitching bales of hay.

Carol works out regularly to strengthen and improve her joint mobility and balance. As you’ll see in this video, she’s got true grit.






Hits & Runs

Hits & Runs

We’re proud of our un-young athletes at CBF. They are a competitive bunch who laugh as hard as they compete. Watch them play our indoor version of baseball, after already completing a demanding circuit. Note the ball is very soft and difficult to catch.

Here are some of the skills they display:

- Excellent balance and coordination while moving, both accelerating and decelerating. The only fall is intentional – to touch a base – and the player makes a nice, safe roll.

- High level body skills with rotating, lunging, crouching, throwing, and running.

- Quick reactivity and hand-eye coordination while positioning and catching.

- Teamwork and communication while executing plays and avoiding collisions.

That’s a lot. Just gotta love it.

Fitness Magic – Zones 7-8-9

Fitness Magic – Zones 7-8-9

We can’t help but smile when we hear heavy breathing during the Younger Games because that’s when CBFers are optimizing their time in the gym. While we exercise plenty in the easy breathing zones between 2 and 6 (see the chart in our previous blog), we always spend quality time in zones 7-8-9. Our time in those higher zones is what make the Younger Games different from most so-called “senior” exercise.

The chart describes zone 7-8 as “Vigorous Activity – Almost feels uncomfortable. Can barely speak a sentence.” Zone 9 is “Very hard activity. Very difficult to maintain intensity, can barely breathe and speak a word.”

The reason you start to feel uncomfortable at zones 7-8, and definitely uncomfortable at zone 9, is your muscles burn as your body produces lactic acid and carbon dioxide. That burning sensation, hard breathing, and fast heart rate signals your body is transitioning from one energy system to another, one less dependent on oxygen.

In fact, in the zone 7-8, you automatically activate on the sympathetic nervous system, also known as the “fight or flight” system. It’s the one that enables you to achieve maximum physical exertion in case of an emergency. Once you enter zone 9, you will not be able to keep exercising for more than a few more seconds. You are close to your peak physical effort.

While exercising in zones 7-8-9, your body will be uncomfortable in the short term, but doing things that help you thrive in the long term, such as:

- Releasing human growth hormones and growth factors that help develop and preserve muscle, which is especially important to older adults.

- Exhausting glucose stored in muscle cells, which in turn promotes better control of blood sugar and improves insulin sensitivity. Transitioning through zones 7-8-9 leads to better metabolic health for hours after exercising.

- The sustained elevated heart rate leads to lower blood pressure, improved elasticity in blood vessels, and better heart rate variability (a complicated topic, but, in short, allows your heart rate to increase and decrease safely to the level needed to meet demands of your activities).

You’ll notice in the Younger Games, your exertion level rises and falls throughout the class. This is intentional. In the past decade exercise science has proven that high intensity interval training, where you are exercising at a high heart rate for a short period of time, is more effective for improving cardiorespiratory fitness than exercising for a longer period of time at a lower exertion rate.

When you are at a circuit station where there’s an opportunity to go to zone 9, just like in the video above where you can hear the rope beat faster and faster, take it. Pick a pace you can maintain the first 30 seconds of the circuit, then when you hear that 10 second warning beep, pick up the pace even more.

Intensity while exercising beats time spent exercising. Less is more. It’s magic.















Heavy Breathing

Heavy Breathing 

In the Younger Games, there always comes a time when all you hear is heavy breathing to music, then the timer beeps, followed by muffled grunts, groans, phews and maybe a cuss word. That’s a good sign that the circuit is working. CBFers are taking advantage of the opportunity to exercise at a high enough level of intensity to improve their cardiorespiratory fitness.

Breath is a better indicator of cardio intensity during exercise than heart rate. And an excellent way to structure your approach to exercise is by using a well researched, safe technique called the Talk Test because your ability to talk reflects the status of your breathing. You can use it in and out of the gym.


The Talk Test is simple. While exercising, just talk to yourself.

If you can complete a sentence, you are in the low exertion range. 
Example: “Mary had a little lamb.” No breaths between words.

If you have to pause between words in a sentence you are in the mid-range.
Example: “Mary had (breath) a little (breath) lamb.”

If you are barely able to get more than a word out, you are in the high range.
Example: “Mary (breath) (breath) (breath) had (breath) (breath) (breath) a …”

What’s great about using your breath to guide your intensity (Rate of Perceived Exertion) is that it is immediately available, 100% accurate, and reflects your real-time physiological state (including all the factors that affect heart performance such as medications, sleep status, caffeine, etc.)

Try the Talk Test in your next class. See if your breathing looks like this.

The warm-up starts at an easy 2-3 exertion level with dynamic stretching to warm and lubricate joints. Some people are still talking about their trip or the weather. But as the legs start moving, the intensity increases to 4, and the conversations taper off. By the time the group is doing high knees and skipping, everyone is breathing heavy, transitioning from 6-7 and signaling your cardiorespiratory system is ready for the challenges in the circuit.

During the circuit, many of the exercises have the potential to elevate your exertion to the 7-8 level. It’s your choice – a matter of the speed, number of repetitions, or level resistance you desire and can sustain.

The 7-8 level, even 9 for short periods of time, is impossible to avoid in some of the stations, like the ropes, med ball slams, sandbell jumping jacks, heavy bag, dot hops and primal crawls.

Whether or not you ever go to 10 is up to you. We don’t recommend it because there is no real payoff for the higher risk of injury and exhaustion.

For reasons we’ll explore in our next blog, it’s at this 7-8 level where some of the greatest benefits occur. After some practice with the Talk Test, you’ll know exactly where that level starts and ends.

If you talk to yourself during the Younger Games, no one will think you’re crazy.