A gym isn't for everyone, and obviously there are a ton of ways to keep fit without going anywhere near a gym.
But I have found in my own life, almost with surprise, that not only do I really enjoy going to the gym, but it has been and is a lifesaver. Of course, it doesn't hurt that it's free because of the Silver Sneakers program.
I started going to a gym and doing resistance training eight years ago when I was 71. I can’t remember exactly what got me started, but I can say for sure it was one of the best decisions I've ever made.
JoAnn and I lived in Loveland at the time, a sweet little town 50 miles north of Denver. A wonderful, caring young woman named Robin got me started. One of life’s angels. She specializes in working with seniors, and made it very easy for me to stretch my boundaries and get comfortable in a new activity and new environment.
Why I love resistance training
I do a bit of a work on the stationary bicycle machines and treadmills, but since I love walking for its own sake I prefer to walk outside when I have the chance. My main passion at the gym is resistance training, and here are some reasons why.
1. More balance in my life
I'm a writer, and spend a lot of my life sitting in a chair. Resistance training helps me keep a balance in my life by requiring that my body works hard physically – indeed, has to work a bit harder each time I go to the gym.
2. My body loves working out
After 9 years, I can report my body LOVES going to the gym. When the time comes for another visit it's like a doggie waiting eagerly in the hallway to go for a walk.
3. I am more confident
Resistance training has given me more confidence. I don't want to imply I bulge with muscles – that would be very deceiving -- I'm your basic lean, skinny Englishman, after all. I could probably go to a gym for 200 years and it wouldn't change my outer form in any especially noticeable way.
But what I CAN say is I FEEL strong – much stronger, certainly, than before Robin took me under her wing. Every part of our being is connected, and if your body is strong, or as strong as you can reasonably make it, I can say with confidence it affects every other aspect of your experience.
4. Helped me deal with despair
Resistance training has helped me deal with despair. In 2005, a year or two after I first joined the gym in Loveland, I suffered a nine-month bout of severe depression. It came suddenly out of the blue with no obvious external trigger that I was aware of. I lost a lot of weight and my energy disappeared down a drain.
But I never stopped going to the gym. I reduced the level I was working at a little bit at first, but that was all.
I think of the gym as my "strength room". I truly believe that the “strength” I generated and experienced at the gym during this dark and terrifying period of my life -- not just at a physical level -- helped bring me through my depression. Helped me persevere until the wondrous moment came when I discovered for myself the joy that waits for each one of us on the other side of despair.
5. An uplifting environment
I find the gym a very upbeat, positive environment. I enjoy the sense of shared purpose and shared effort. The opportunity to be with people who are also concerned to maintain or improve their fitness and health. I also enjoy the remarkable range of people who show up -- all sizes, shapes, ages and backgrounds.
I go to a different gym, of course, since JoAnn and I moved to Denver. It's a large facility, and at first I missed the more informal, intimate atmosphere in Loveland. But after a year now I'm nicely at home -- as eager for another session at the gym as the dogs in our townhome complex are eager for their next walk.
6. The gym helps me follow through with my fitness goals
I do love going for walks as I said. But having a specific program set up at the gym -- I do resistance training three days a week and aerobic work two days a week -- definitely helps keep me on track with my fitness goals
7. Helps give more structure to my day
As you get older, one of the challenges, I find, is developing just the right amount of structure or routine in the day. When you were younger, and had a job, that was pretty well taken care of. But in my latter years I appreciate the extra little bit of structure -- routine -- that going to the gym brings to my life.
8. Helps keep my brain in shape
Last -- but not least by a long shot -- I read the other day that working out at the gym helps keep your brain in good shape. I was kind of surprised when I read this. But the article explained the brain needs a plentiful supply of blood like any other body organ -- and working out at the gym helps meet that need.
Introducing the "Age Defying System"
I was thinking about how I could add some more useful, 'concrete' content to my blog. I thought one way might be to make a brief mention of a product or service at the end of my posts that I think may be of interest to you and help make your life easier or better in some way.
I'll do my best to choose items that complement the theme of a particular post. This week my eye fell on a program called "The age defying system" developed by certified personal trainers Grant and Diane Hernden.
Designed by Boomers for Boomers, this comprehensive exercise, eating and life balance system for men and women over 50 includes bonus workouts, meal plans and recipes, coaching and more.
I can’t personally vouch for this program because I've never tried it, but I listened to the Herndens' video and was impressed with their vision and the way they presented themselves. It looks reputable, and has the convenience of being an “at home” system. Please click here to learn more about "The Age Defying System."
As always, I'd love to share any thoughts or experiences you may have on this post. Blessings and every good wish.
Picture from newsusacontent