I’ve a special gal in my life. She’s one of my personal training clients. So far, she’s lost over 30 pounds. She’s increased her loads on her deadlifts by 50%, she’s managed to add more volume to her metabolic conditioning workouts, and she gets benchmark workouts completed, not seconds, but minutes quicker than when she started.
“Great”, you say. “I mean, isn’t that your job to coach someone to those achievements?” It is. But what makes this woman so special is…… she is on her 80th trip around the sun!
Before I continue, I can’t take the credit for Margaret’s rapid progress in her training. Margaret has the right attitude, she was already following Paleo before she arrived, she gets into the pool twice a week to do the rehab work that is necessary for her titanium knees, she walks every day, and every other day she is involved with her church, choir, and family.
And her friends think she’s “off her nut”.
Why shouldn’t they? Octogenarians aren’t supposed to show up in CrossFit gyms twice a week. They shouldn’t be hurling medicine balls at their trainers, or doing inclined bench press, or ERG intervals, or swinging a kettlebell.
I guess Margaret and I missed the memo. When she arrived on the first day I think I was more nervous than she was. This was uncharted territory for me. We spoke at great length about why she was wanting to do this, what she was doing prior to this, and what we needed to consider as far as medical conditions and past surgeries. It turned out Margaret had already started training during the last month when she visited her son (a neurosurgeon) in North Carolina, who encouraged her to try out his gym, CrossFit Amplitude. There, a great coach, Sebastien got her started.
I’ve slowly added and modified different movements to Margaret’s repertoire as I see improvements in her range of motion and strength. “Experimenting” is a term I’d hate to use. But I’m thrilled to see Margaret’s improvements, and the coach in me wants to move her towards realising what she is capable of. No, we’ll likely never do a Snatch. We’ll never lay hands on a pull-up bar. But we will achieve her goal, something we all take for granted: To be able to lower herself to the floor and stand back up without assistance.
We’re close. She can lower herself to a 9″ seat from the ground then get up again. The other day Margaret started discussing her next goal, to be able to get back on a bicycle. In the meantime, we thoroughly enjoy the process of working towards those goals.
Here’s what one of Margaret’s previous sessions looked like:
WARMUP 800m Walk
STRENGTH Deadlift from blocks, 8x 45lb, 8x 55lb, 6x 65lb, 6x 70lb
WOD Jackie: 300m Row, 30KB Swings 8lb, 15 Ring Rows Time= 6:34
COOLDOWN 4 Minute Walk
I used to brag about my Mom (I still do), how at the age of 65, having no athletic background her entire life and a 2-time cancer survivor, started doing CrossFit and over the past three years experienced the same wonderful increases in work capacity a person in their 20’s experiences. I’m afraid Margaret has trumped my Mom. And here I have living proof that no matter when you start CrossFit, your body will respond and adapt, improve and provide a better living. The body doesn’t need to go into shut down when you start collecting Old Age Security.
I consider myself very fortunate to have the opportunity to train Margaret. I’ll keep you posted on her progress. In the meantime, consider your goals. Picture yourself on your 80th turn around the sun. What’s your life going to be like? What you do now will shape that future.
Be Fit. Love Life.
P.S. Since writing the above, Margaret has hit a huge milestone. She became an official CrossFitter this week when she completed Fran! 21-15-9 Thrusters and Pull-Ups. In our case, the thruster was a sit to a bench with a dowel. Margaret did Ring Rows in place of Pull-Ups. It was one of the longest workouts she’s done at 8:24. As we went for our cooldown walk afterwards she stated “I did good. Didn’t I?”