Let’s face it: None of us is getting any younger. I’m certainly not. And most days I’m acutely aware of changes that have occurred over the years. Not being as strong or as stable as I once was are two concerns I decided to tackle head on.
Fortunately, I found a great coach—personal trainer Andy Wight who, along with Andy Kinslow, owns AW Strength & Conditioning in Westbrook. They also offer several fitness classes.
I spend a lot of time sitting in front of my computer, and I know it can be deadly no matter what your age. I try to take breaks and do the treadmill nearly every day for 30 minutes. Still, I knew it wasn’t enough, especially if I wanted to have an active life in my 70s (which are not far away), 80s, 90s … as long as possible. And I knew that I needed some guidance.
I’d never been to a personal trainer before and was pretty anxious when I showed up for the first session back in January. It was totally outside my comfort zone—or, as I’ve decided to call it, inside my discomfort zone.
Wight wanted to see what I was able to do, so we started out slowly. “I’m assessing for certain limitations, any areas of weakness,” he explains. “Then I’m figuring out a better hands-on approach for each session going forward.”
He had me do squats. I nearly died. He had me do elevated arm push ups. My triceps burned like you know what. One day, about a month in, I didn’t feel like going. It’s normal, Wight told me. “It’s more of a psychological hurdle that you have to get over,” he says. “There will always be days where you just don’t feel like doing it, but you know that once you do you’re going to feel better about it.”
He was right. Since then, there have been days when I felt sluggish, but I always leave feeling lighter, happier and more energetic.
After two months, I started doing trap bar deadlifts. I lifted 45 pounds the first time and quickly advanced to 65 pounds. Then he had me push a tire across the room. A 225-pound tire! Three times in a row. How’d I feel? Lifting 65 pounds was exhilarating. Pushing 225 pounds? I don’t even have the words to express how great it felt.
With each session I’ve gotten stronger, improved my balance and felt more confident. On a recent trip to visit family in Arizona, I discovered another win. Endurance. We’ve been before and, as usual, were eager to hang out by the pool. I always try to swim one or two lengths (small pool so short lengths.) Most of the time, I just float on my back or stretch out on a lounge chair to soak up some sun (yes, I wear sunscreen).
This year, I did more swimming than lounging. Back and forth, back and forth I swam. On my belly, on my side, on my back. Not simply floating on my back. I used my arms and my legs. The first day, my heart was pounding and my shoulders ached a bit, but I recovered within minutes.
The only thing that is different in my life is working out twice a week with Wight. Each time I go, I see progress, but I hadn’t thought about endurance until my first day in the pool. The fact that I was able to do some vigorous (for me) swimming and recover quickly was a huge achievement.
He also recommended walking. One early evening, I took a 50-minute brisk walk, and I’m pretty sure I could have kept on going if I weren’t expected back for dinner. More proof of increasing endurance.
I’ve been blogging about my workouts on my Catching Health blog. You’re welcome to join me inside my discomfort zone. Maybe you’ll feel motivated to follow in my footsteps, which are getting faster, by the way! Deciding to work with Wight was the right decision for me and I’d recommend him and AW Strength & Conditioning (awstrength.com) to anyone. Whatever you decide to do I hope you feel as great as I do!
Diane Atwood writes the blog Catching Health with Diane Atwood. Find it at catchinghealth.com.