I already wrote about this over a Diet Blog, but what the heck. This is Cranky Fitness, not Diet Blog, so I can write about the same thing all over again! Plus I was far too cheerful about the situation over there. Here, well--this blog has strict limits on cheerful, especially when Merry's out of town.
So I'm temporarily living in a retirement community (long story) and have been working out at the old folk's gym. I figure the average age of my fellow gym-goers is probably somewhere in the seventies. Many of them are in their 80's or even 90's.
And for the most part, it's been a really pleasant surprise. Unlike younger gym rats, these people are extremely friendly and chatty and fun to be around. The ones who are just in better-than-average shape for a 87 year old (or whatever) are very quick to compliment you for not being 87 years old yourself. "Wow, look at that," they'll say, when you crank up the treadmill to a slow run, "you go so fast!"
Weirdly enough, these nice compliments can make you feel almost like you do go really fast. So you smile and blush and mumble something incoherent. Because you can't really say "actually, I'm not fast at all, I'm just not 87 years old." That wouldn't be very nice.
But here's the problem: I now understand what it must be like to be the only guy working out with a bunch of women. Even though it's not rational, and it's offensive stereotyping blah blah blah, somehow, I still subconsciously feel like since I'm much younger than these folks, I should be able to kick their asses at everything.
I should run faster. I should lift more. I should be more flexible.
But guess what? Many of them are faster, stronger and more flexible than I am and I kinda hate that.
It's pretty damn motivating though, I gotta say. When some guy in his 80's starts jogging on the treadmill next to me, I want to jog faster than him, even though he's in better shape than I am. When some woman can do squats with big bar bells balanced on her shoulders, I want to learn how to do that too instead of just using the wimpy leg press machine which I've been perfectly content with up until now.
My competiveness is pathetic, of course, but I'm hoping it might come in handy.
As it happens, we'll be moving cross-country in a couple weeks, and I won't be back to the Retirement Gym until next winter. I'm gonna really miss working out with some of the seniors, of whom I'm growing very fond.
But in the meantime I'm going to think about kicking up my workout intensity a bit so I can come back next year and kick some senior ass.
(Seriously--it's great to discover what great shape you can be in if you keep it up into your senior years.)
Anyone have any thoughts on aging and exercise?