Lately I’ve been working out with older women in their 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. At this point in their life, they are feeling the effects of age and they realize that if they don’t use it, they’re going to lose it! Which is, of course, exactly how muscle mass works. The older we get, the more important it is to strengthen and challenge the body; otherwise, it will degrade at an alarming rate and you’ll be one of those grannies that needs a walker just to get from her bed to her bathroom.
No thank you!!
I’ve noticed an alarming trend where these “older” (ahem!) women come into my gym (full disclosure: my not-fancy-at-all garage) and immediately tell me how they’re not strong. I haven’t even given them an exercise to do yet! They seem to have this negative view of themselves and their bodies and I’m not sure where it’s coming from (my only guess is that they’re terrified of my giant kettlebells and are making a pre-emptive strike in hopes that I’ll go easy on them).
But the unfortunate thing is, they are all actually quite strong and just don’t believe it!
So from what I can tell, in our 20’s and 30’s, we all think we’re fat. Then in our 40’s and beyond, we add insult to injury and think we’re fat AND weak. Where’s the love, ladies?!
A few months ago, my mom came to visit and being the nice daughter that I am, I made her work out every day she was here (they don’t call my house “Domestica’s Fat Camp” for nothing!). As I outlined the Baseline Workout, which I take every client through in order to have a baseline to measure their progress against, she pre-emptively announced that she didn’t think she could run a half mile without stopping.
Well she did. In 5:23 actually. And then she did 16 burpees in 1 minute, swung a 35-lb kettlebell 36 times without stopping and rounded it out by planking for a solid 2:02.45.
Last week, a new lady started coming to my weekly neighborhood workouts. Elizabeth is 64 and doesn’t look a day over 55 (I’ll take one of those, please!). She had heard that I use kettlebells and walked in with a 5-lb kettlebell that she had bought the day before. After making sure she was cleared by her doctor to work out, I discovered that her goals were to tone up, lose some belly weight, and to be able to get up without having to move to all fours. I immediately informed her that those were great goals. And that she wouldn’t reach them with this dinky little 5-lb doorstop. Once she demonstrated an ability to do the basic kettlebell swing, I handed her my lightest kb — 25 pounds. She looked at me with wide-eyes and extreme doubt.
“I can’t do that!”
Yes, yes you can. And she did. In fact, she went on to do 5 sets of 10 2-hand swings that Monday and then the same thing again on Wednesday. Without even a twinge of Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness in the following days. Listen Elizabeth — I respect my elders. And so I was nice to you. But next week expect the 35-lb bell, dearie.
Those are just two examples of the older women who come to me thinking that not only are they hopelessly weak NOW, but they are incapable of being fit and healthy EVER. Maybe you’re not over 40 but my message to you is the same because I know plenty of 20 or 30-something women who think they’re hopelessly fat NOW and incapable of being fit and healthy EVER.
LIES, LIES, LIES!
Accept a new belief: you ARE strong! You ARE capable!
Now don’t get me wrong. As we age, it’s important to incorporate new exercises slowly and to be mindful of the strain you’re putting on your body. Older people will recover more slowly and may require modifications until they build up the necessary strength.
But too many of us women doubt our abilities. Whether it be physical, mental, or even just practical. We doubt ourselves as mothers, as wives, as women. We think someone else does it better and we’re never going to be like them. We short-change ourselves with a defeatist attitude and then sit back in misery at our apparent lot in life. Well, enough! No more lying to ourselves about how weak we are. Or how incapable we are. Or how insufficient we are.
If training older women has taught me anything, it is how strong we women really are. How fierce we can be when the time comes and how far we can push ourselves when necessary.
Don’t believe the lie that you’re not good enough! The only way that lie becomes truth is when you believe it.