March 12, 2008

Old People Are Kicking My Ass

[By Crabby]
Sure, she looks so nice and all...

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?


  1. This was hilarious.

    I would hate it that a bunch of older people were better than me. And love it at the same time- in a hopeful, "Well maybe I'll be rockin it when I'm 87 too" kind of way.

    The same thing happened to me at the indoor track when I went a couple of times this winter. There was this lady who HAD to be pushing 80 and she was running faster than me. Oy, it doesn't get easier to admit even when I'm just typing it out.
    I was in awe. Mad and hopeful at the same time. mad because hello, I'm 27. Hopeful because I've got a good 60 years to improve my pace.

  2. I was working the speed bag at the Gym. For what it's worth, I'm pretty good at it as I had a good teacher and I practice on it a lot! This "21 year old" guy walked up me and said,"We're you a professional boxer in your day?" To which I replied,"This may sound odd to you, but I still think this is my day!" :-)
    It's still your day too, Crabby!
    Dr. J

  3. I hope to be an ass-kicking senior when I'm 87.

  4. I'm constantly being passed in races by people three times my age.

    I WANT to be them.

    Although, there is a scary guy who lifts at my gym that has to be in his late 60s. I think he needs to stop...mostly because the veins popping out of his head frighten me and I don't want to have to perform CPR.

  5. It's so funny you posted this today. This morning CNN has a headline "101 year old man training to run first marathon." His name is Buster and he is going to do the London marathon next month.

    Buster also still works... washing cars! He drinks beer on his work breaks instead of coffee. He's got 17 kids and looks like he's up for just about anything.

  6. Competition Baby! Watched the Biggest Loser last night and Brittney was saying the same thing. She hated being beat by men! Me, I just hate being beat. That's why I stick with music and not sports ;)

  7. When I go walking with mom (who is 73) I often have to tell her to slow down so I can catch up. She is also ten times more flexible then I am.
    You can imagine how embarassing this is...*blush*
    When I run, my goal is to beat the senior citizens and the 7 year olds. Somtimes I succeed..


  8. This is too funny!!!!

    My mother-in-law, in her late 60's and barely 5 feet tall, leaves me in the dust when we walk. I'm 38, 5'9", and workout every day. It's humiliating, and kinda cool at the same time.

    There's a Pilates master teacher named Real Isacowitz who is 70 years old, looks like he's 40, and is in INCREDIBLE shape. And let's not forget the 77 year-old nun who does triathlons, including the Ironman!

  9. I find older athletes inspiring and I want to be just like them!

    A couple years ago, the winner of the women's 60-70 age group at the Houston Marathon had a time of 3:30 or thereabouts. That's an hour faster than I can do at a quarter century her age!

    I still have a lot to aspire to!

  10. Marie said,"I don't want to have to perform CPR."

    Don't worry Marie, he's there to perform CPR on you :-)

    Sorry, coundn't resist.

    Dr. J

  11. Hell, I'll just be happy if I make past 65! It would be nice to be fit by then though.

  12. My grandpa is 75 and fit for the first time in his life thanks to diabetes scaring the crap out of him.

  13. There's a guy in ourneighborhood who must be at least 70 who runs about 5-10 K a day. He's pure muscle...and has loooooong hair that flows out behind him as he runs in these awful shorts with no shirt. If I can look that good when I'm that
    All my running tips came from a 72 year old who has been running for 20 years...I'm hoping if I start now I might be able to keep up with them when I get there.
    I find older runners inspiring.

  14. oh then you probably don't want to see this:

  15. I frequently go jogging on a popular wooded trail and I am regularly passed by men in their 70s. Part of me is embarrassed, but mostly, I'm just inspired.

    How awesome are you that you're living in a retirement community? Love it!

  16. Heh...I don't know about old people but I'm consistently getting 'chicked' by girls going faster than me.

  17. Oh this made me laugh. I always run next to this older gentleman, and some strange part of my brain is always like, "Hey, I'm awesome because I'm running faster than him." Or course he is about 352 years old...

  18. When I was seventeen, my mom dragged me to her gym. The trainer measured me and told me that I had a waist of 33 and hips of 38. It didn't go with the clothes that I was wearing so I was rather furious. I now understand that clothes, especially jeans, are worn tight, but I didn't at the time. I felt ashamed that she told me that I was huge. I also couldn't do any of the exercises and I felt fat, ungraceful and like I made a complete ass of myself. I've never felt comfortable in a gym since.

    No one has measured me in a gym since then and I only been to one fitness class since and I didn't make a fool of myself there. It was low impact and at a resort so the instructor expected no one to know a routine.

    At the first gym, I felt so ashamed that I didn't have the coordination of the older participants and completely humiliated by my measurement being told to myself and my mother. I work out at home. It's easier, cheaper, and I'm not embarrassed if I can't keep up with the exercises on a VHS. I haven't used the DVD player yet. Lately, I've been doing my exercises out of a book.

  19. Man I'm so jealous. Even my step-father makes me look bad. He's 73 and he still works.

  20. my grandpa, age 84, basically invented the concept of jogging (I swear! I have documents!) and he has been active all through his life. He swims laps mostly now and I/he totally credit his love of and dedication to physical activity with his continued good health. He got ME started with working out back when I was in high school. I remember himcheeringme on when I finished my first one-mile run on the marathon! Love him!

  21. Crabby - dare we ask YOUR age?

  22. So for a while I lived in my grandmother's basement, and I would wake up in the morning to her running up and down the four flights of stairs in her house. With weights. But no pants. And curlers in her hair. By the time I dragged my ass up for coffee, she'd have worked out for an hour, have full make-up on, hair done, walking out the door to work. She put me to shame. She just turned 80. Still rockin' it.

  23. Funny you should write about super-fit old people. Just yesterday at the gym, while a bunch of us were struggling up the stairmaster and bashing Spitzer, somehow the topic switched to a local 80 year-old man who had broken some running record. He had averaged a 7:13 mile.

    I noted that the only way I could run a 7:13 mile would be if Gov. Spitzer was chasing me with $4000!(He's just not my type.)

    So the guy on the stairmaster next to me replied, "Yeah, when I was 82 I ran a 7 minute mile, but I can't go that fast now because of my knees."


  24. My 70 year old father's doctor just told him that he could spend time working out in the gym, or hanging out at the doctor's office; that was his choice. My dad quickly got a new gym membership. And yes, I still try to kick his butt just like I did when I was a kid. Only now, I don't tell him that is what I'm doing. I just stay quiet about it. Great post. I am proud of every person that walks into a gym because I know how hard it is. Even those annoyingly perfect, skinny chicks.

  25. Is it just me or does anyone think the comments are particularly hilarious today?

    Now I've got visions of Amanda's grandma, with curlers but sans pants, being chased up and down the stairs by Gov Spitzer waving thousand-dollar bills.

    And Jim, you can always dare to ask, but whether I'll answer is another question! (Ah what the hell, I'm 47. Which usually feels plenty old enough, but it starts feeling young when you hang out with the seniors).

  26. Aging and exercise? I like to think that there are no limits - some have the thought that when you reach ## age that it's all downhill - well I disagree, and when you continue your regular exercise program, you'll only benefit your body!

    Thanks for the great story, super funny while a great point! :)

  27. Very funny stuff.

    As a hospitalist, the two constants that I see over and over again for people who look much younger than their stated age are.

    1) They don't smoke
    2) They remain physically active all their life.

    It really does make a huge difference.

  28. I totally recall during my college (beer swilling) days when I lifeguarded HOW MANY OF THE OLDER LAP SWIMMERS WERE IN BETTER SHAPE THAN I.

    we women guards would joke about it (between evening sips) but it really wasnt funny.

    those older folks can kick some a**!

    now the college kids think Im old---so I guess it all works out.

  29. Oh... so is that you in the picture? *Jim ducks and runs*

    I bet you don't look a day over 21 with all that health-conscious stuff.

  30. Love the comments on this -- they are particularly funny because, I think, this topic hits home. I can relate to many of the comments -- embarrassed to be "seniored" (to be bested by someone several years older) and hoping like crazy that I can still be a decent runner (or even get better) as I age.


  31. Damn, Jim, you run too fast to catch up to and bop over the head with my cane!

    And thanks, Bob--I suspect you're going to be one of those incredibly fit seniors putting the youngsters to shame. Maybe you can go chase Jim for me.

  32. When I read this post, I wanted to laugh out loud. It was past 10 o'clock at night and I was ready to go to bed, but I couldn't because my aged mother, in her mid-80's, was bopping around the place in a fit of organizing-and-cleaning.
    I felt completely inadequate that she was kicking my ass, energy-wise, until I sat down and did the math. Not only did she sleep in for another 4 hours after I went to work, she had a 2 hour nap in the afternoon before I came home. No wonder she was full of energy when I was ready to droop!

    And Crabby... you're older than I am? No way! Maybe chronologically (barely), but not biologically. Trust me,Jim, I know whereof I speak. I've met her :)

  33. It's pretty funny how you felt like you had to compete with all the old folks. :)

    Good luck with the move!

  34. oh your hilarious story reminded me of a time I was power walking going pretty fast I felt. Then right out from the right side of me these two women who looked like my grandma's age come whizzing by me as they said excuse us. zOMG, the old ladies were kicking my ass, and at first I felt a bit defeated, but then I watched them some more and thought, wow! I wanna kick ass like those ladies when I'm their age. Go you golden girls!


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