A baby boomer takes on the weight of exercise

When we got this piece from Cindy Conner Burnett of Cordova, Tennessee, we knew it was just right for BoomerCafé. It’s about staying healthy. Which is ever more important if aging boomers want to stay young.

There are gifted individuals who run, jump, and compete in athletic events and have done so for decades. I am not one of them.

Cindy Conner Burnett

I was the kid chosen last in PE. Excelling in the role of spectator, I felt my responsibility was to admire those other athletes. But that changed after six decades of taking it easy. Now the best thing I do for myself is working out at my CrossFit gym.

CrossFit is a boot camp type of workout popular with Special Ops soldiers, police officers, firefighters, and the like. CrossFitters, often accused of being cult-like, call their gyms “boxes.” They have the Workout of the Day (generally named something deceptively friendly like Susie) and promote group activities.

In the “box” where I work out, there are no treadmills, no televisions, no Wi-Fi, no Starbucks. In fact there’s no heat, which is okay because I’m working out in the South. But there’s no air conditioning either. What there is in abundance is loud music, and ropes and rings and boxes to leap, or step up on, and lots of free weights.

Retirement eliminated my excuse of “no time for exercise.” However, following a less than stellar report after an annual check up, I bolted out the door to the gym before I had time for second thoughts.

Now I work my schedule around my workouts.

It hasn’t always been easy. After my personal trainer “retired,” I joined a group class. This meant working out with people less than half my age, generally guys who were a foot or more taller than I am. I considered quitting but decided to give it a try. One time.

A year later, I’m still trying.

I learned that what counts is personal effort. I’m competing to be the best I can be. Recently my workout partner was a guy two decades younger than I and a former Southeastern Conference football player. But we both focused on our individual efforts. By the end of the hour, we were equally exhausted — and proud of what we’d managed to do.

So what have I learned late in my exercise life?

  1. You never know until you try. If it doesn’t work out, you now know one thing that’s not for you. Be patient. You’ll find what works.
  2. Aim for what matters. My workout goals were to be able to get down on the floor to play with my grandchildren — and get back up again.
  3. Go for the stretch. The Silver Slippers workout in a chair didn’t work for me.
  4. Use a proven method and professional help. Pain doesn’t mean gain. It means you’re doing something wrong.

My confidence has improved. I easily (most days) keep up with the grandkids and, best of all, my most recent checkup results were excellent. All goals worth pursuing. Most importantly, I’ve learned that the person I should compete against — maybe the only person I should compete against — is myself. It doesn’t matter what the people next to me are doing. It’s my workout, not theirs.

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