I just celebrated my fortieth year and other than not being able to write 3* anymore in the age box I don’t feel any different. Every year since I turned 25 I’ve been waiting for time to take its toll. Every year that passes it seems I get better and more fit rather than the reverse. They said I would lose muscle mass (I think that statistic is 10% a year) if no work is done to preserve muscles. They said due to that muscles mass loss I would gain weight and continue to gain weight. So far the main thing associated with age that happened are the grey hairs I notice when it’s time to dye my normally blonde hair black. Truth is I am in better shape now than I was 20 years ago.
Fitness does not have to diminish with age if you stay consistent with activity. Even if the activity may not have been effective enough to cause significant weight loss it is still beneficial to be active. Once I started on a fitness regimen I was committed to one form of exercise or another. In my 20s I was just beginning to learn about fitness. I started weight lifting at 22 but had no concept of proper form. It took time to learn what I needed to do to make strength gains safely. I was determined to get lean and change my body composition. I tried a few different modes of training before finding one that I liked. I always had some type of resistance training but it wasn’t until years into exercising that I found a yoga video tape. If you lack flexibility due to neglecting that part of training, yoga is a great way to get started. For me even strength training and yoga or stretching wasn’t enough move the scale but it was a good start. Finding a pole fitness studio in my early 30s finally set me on the right path to committed, consistent, effective exercise.
The pole community is always coming out with new moves and variations on what already exists. If you take the attitude that you must learn every move or you are not progressing or should give up poling, I would have to caution you to slow down. Maybe you were inspired to take your first pole lesson because you saw a champion level poler’s video. Great! Inspiration is the gas the make the vehicle go, it’s the fuel to use when you know it’s work out time and you really don’t want to work out today! But don’t ever let that sword turn the other way. Many start with the desire to learn the latest pole moves and quickly become discouraged because it actually is harder than the videos make it look. This is both good and bad, if it wasn't challenging it wouldn't be effective weight loss exercise. The natural tendency we all have is to compare ourselves to others, others in our age group, others in our culture, others on TV. STOP. Stop this detrimental behavior. The only person you need to be in competition with is you. Stay consistent with your training, make changes when you need to and record your own progress!
Age really is a number
Most people make a big deal about the decade birthdays starting at 30. (Well who makes a big deal about 20 when 21 is coming?) Upon turning 40 my mother declared “no woman should turn 40 without a mink coat.” Well I live in Florida and we’re going to leave it at that (no seriously not getting into views about furs). Naturally I wanted to do something special for my birthday but my definition of special wasn't necessarily feasible (especially 3 months after my wedding). Truthfully unless I was going to Maryland to have crabs with my family if I got my birthday pole session in, it really didn't matter what I did. It turned out I didn't need to make elaborate plans as fate and a smitten husband took care of most of my plans for my day.
Three days before my birthday my friends flew in from Maryland to renew their 25th anniversary wedding vows. They would be in town until the day after my birthday which meant POLE JAM ON MY BIRTHDAY!!!! (For those completely unfamiliar with the term, “pole jam” is when two or more people get together to work out on a pole and trade concepts and methods or moves. This can also be done via Skype or other similar services but does not replace having another person with you.) I made sure to do my favorite pole move on the day I marked one year older. It’s a promise I made to myself after I got injured coming out of the move and was unable to perform it for 4 months while I healed. That right there is the crux of my great birthday. I met the challenge I set for myself which was very important to me because of the level of difficulty of the feat. I intend to do it well into my eighties.
Attitude, commitment, and balance
While it’s true that things do change as we age, there are many things that can be done to fight aging signs. It begins within and attitude is the first thing we can control. The next is our level of commitment and effort put forth to the task. The more committed one is to their fitness regimen the faster one is likely to see results. Commitment though is a rounded concept. It doesn't mean pushing yourself to the point of injury and then trying to work through the pain. It means being willing to work intensely enough to effect change but also being aware of the signals your body sends as feedback. As it takes time to learn another language it may take time to learn to hear what your body is saying to you. It may take a while to learn when pain from stretching is from overstretching or normal aches from further widening the range of motion.
Having a plan of action for the workout helps keep the session focused and is therefore easier to track progress, but try to have a back-up plan, too. For me it’s a matter of deciding what move(s) or modes I’m going to work on. The key to each workout session is getting up from whatever you are sitting on and begin your warm-up. It’s very rare to begin a warm up and not follow through on the rest of the work out. There are days when I get all warmed up and realize there is no way I have the strength or energy to do what I had planned and will have to modify my workout. It’s okay. Plans change and it’s possible to work a different area to still get an effective session. Usually that means I switch to a flexibility focus rather than strength training— or the opposite if I’m feeling particularly stiff. Rest is certainly as important working out, but balance is key. Don’t fool yourself into thinking a little soreness deserves an extra rest day, most likely you need to give your all to the next workout session and you will find you are not as sore as when you started. Yes fitness is a lifetime commitment but fitness is a gift that has only one source; it is something no one else can do for you, you must be willing to put in the work yourself. If you have no extra activity in your life get started! If you are working out but sporadically increase your current level of activity, add a new exercise to the mix do whatever you have to do to increase activity.