My son cares about fitness and strives to create a space where any and all can create their best lives. It isn’t just diet and exercise he promotes, but an overall improvement in one’s life inside and outside his box. He cares. And not just about his star athletes, although he does have some. He cares about all of his people.
He wrote an article at Breaking Muscle recently and took a lot of flak from some fragile ego people. I read the article. 5 Tips for Coaching the 40 and Over Crowd listed everything I wanted done for me. I’m over 40. Way over.
Part of the problem with CrossFit Masters designation is that it begins too early for the always athletic people. My son is turning 40 soon. He has been lifting weights since he was 15. I am old enough to be his mother. I have been lifting weights since I was 59. We do have different needs. However, even my son can no longer perform to his peak level of five to ten years ago.
He owns a gym and is there every day and yet, his time is still constrained by all the things that happen to adults. He is a business owner, has a family – nuclear and extended, has obligations and duties that suck up an inordinate amount of time. His focus has shifted as his responsibilities changed. That’s normal and it happens.
Some of the comments on his piece were more of a defense against age than anything else. Old people in a nation that reveres youth, feel abandoned or marginalized. And if these people think they have to defend themselves at the age of forty, all I can say is wait until you are my age because there is nothing more marginalized in this country than an old woman.
Yesterday I worked out with three 16 year olds. They are all competitive swimmers. Their goal for the day and their long term goals are both far different from mine. There was also an adult working out. I don’t know if Gabe is a “mature” adult or not. What I do know is I was shocked that he wasn’t the first one to return from a mile run. Even he couldn’t successfully compete against a 16 year old competitive swimmer.
What I have needed as an old fart CrossFitter has been far different than any of the younger people who have joined CrossFit Summerville. First of all, I needed more time for everything. There is some adage out there about taking 30 days to see results. Hell, in thirty days, I was still struggling to get through a warm-up and the WODs were still so far over my head, I was drowning. If a coach had treated me like the tender, fragile old fart I am, instead of pushing me like I was still 25, I would have cried less often.
The old fart designation starts too young, as I mentioned. But maybe I’m just one of the true outliers and there aren’t enough really old farts joining CrossFit to make a higher number logical. If new people older than 50 make up such a small percentage, then giving us a special category may be unnecessary. I know at my box there are lots of 20s, 30s, and 40s. Then it drops off and there are a few 50s. And then there is me.
CrossFit has changed my life. There is no doubt about that. I never in my wildest dreams pictured myself throwing 58 pounds over my head let alone being a bit disappointed when I couldn’t get the next higher weight bar up. Three times. But that’s minor. That’s just four hours a week. CrossFit has changed my life all day long, every single day.
I’m less fearful. I’m more daring. I take chances I wouldn’t have taken before. I have balls. Of brass. One of my goals for CrossFit was to get the lids off jars myself. It was a statement of power. It was a wish to be independent and to be capable of living the life I wanted. All in a simple statement. I wanted to have the power and strength of decades ago. I do.
I’ve needed special treatment every time I showed up. I am not the same as the teenagers. I’m not the same as someone who has worked with some athletic pursuit his or her entire life. I was an old and out of shape person who had basically done nothing but sit around for nearly 20 years getting fat and sloppy.
After participating in the Masters Garage Games, I had an epiphany. I was crying again one day and I asked Kim if it was even worth my coming. I could still do absolutely nothing. She assured me that I was a real person who had come a long way and my improvement in the two years I had been coming was vast and impressive. I wasn’t a teenager; I was an awesome and awe-inspiring old fart. I got shit done. I was doing fine.
And it hit me. I’m old. I’m not a teenager or a young adult. I’m old. I’m not anywhere near the kids I workout with in age or experience. I’m old. But I still kick ass four times a week, still do what others only dream of. I still amaze my friends who can’t believe I do this crap and enjoy it. Hell, I even amaze myself sometimes.
I stopped writing scaled after my scores. I began writing masters. No woman who comes to the box and does a lower weight ever writes scaled. Each and every WOD is written scaled because there is both a man’s and woman’s version. Any woman doing Fran with 65# is doing a scaled WOD. It is written at 95# but every woman would whimper, “That’s the men’s weight” if asked to use that bar. Well, I can no more help being old than I can help being a woman. Writing masters after my scores helps me remember this day after day.
I wanted to respond to some of the snarky comments written by fragile ego folks who were “just as good as” when they were younger. Good for you. I’m glad you think so. But if a coach sees someone like me walk into their gym, they better have a plan on what to do with an old fart non-athlete. Because, if treated with care, that person can become an old fart athlete. And be awesome.