WHY OUR APPROACH TO TRAINING SENIORS SHOULD NOT DIFFER FROM OUR APPROACH TO TRAINING YOUNGER ATHLETES

Meet Milt! Milt is 82 years old. He is also a former collegiate swimmer, recreational adult runner and tennis player. Ten years ago Milt had a heart attack. Fearing for his safety, Milt took to his lounge chair and became sedentary and old…enter Eileen, his wife. Not a woman to mess around with, Eileen contacted me and told me straight out, “Lisa, Milt’s gotta move. I don’t want to lose him and I need your help.” I was happy to oblige. What a great challenge!!! Three months ago, Milt was unsteady on his feet and becoming more and more feeble with each passing day. When I met him he could not rise from a seated position, nor could he sit down without assistance. I approached Milt exactly the way I would approach one of my teenage athletes-I would teach him what I knew about functional movement and enable him to participate in his own life—-unassisted! Now, when I say I would approach Milt like I would one of my young athletes, I must elaborate. It is my belief that everyone, young or old, should learn certain functional movements, for example, how to squat and to squat properly-hips back, weight on heels, knees out, etc. For my younger athletes this is perhaps to prepare them for weighted squats and more advanced lifting. For Milt, it was simply a matter of being able to stand up and sit down. It drives me crazy when clients tell me that their doctor told them NEVER to squat because it will injure their knees. Really??? How will you sit down in a chair, or go to the bathroom for that matter? Nonsense. Milt would squat. We started with the basics and very little squat depth. Within a few weeks he was squatting to parallel. I promised Eileen that I would not let Milt deteriorate and I was going to live up to my word. Milt is also back on his Airdyne bike-we do interval training-just like I would do with my young athletes-do we go as hard? Of course, not, But Milt is on that bike and for 20 seconds he pushes the pace and for a minute, he slows down and recovers-usually ten times. During his recovery from the bike sprints, Milt has, of late, taken to singing to me. His heart and his lungs, along with his muscles, are getting stronger. I look forward to my sessions with Milt-I work him hard and he loves every minute of it-I think he especially loves the fact that he has regained a lot of his independence, along with his pride. I tease him that I am “never going to let him get old or do old man things!” Well, I’ll make an exception for an Early Bird dinner, but that’s it!

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