You can’t help getting older, but you don’t have to get old. George Burns
About two weeks ago, on a calm Sunday morning, we held our 3rd Strength Training Workshop for Women at Fivex3 Training. In three hours, we covered the four main lifts – squat, press, deadlift and bench. That’s a lot of information for a three hour workshop and once again, it was absolutely one of the best three hours of my life. Teaching women how to properly squat with a barbell? To depth? Priceless.
Of the 16 women who attended our workshop, three were over the age of 60. Two were clients of mine and the third was the mother of another woman at the workshop who had some experience with this type of training. Her mother had none so she decided to come because she was interested. Learn how to squat with a barbell? Hey, why not?
For Joyce, she just wanted to try something different. Right away, I could tell she was going to be fun to work with because she had no problem laughing at herself. She had no problem trying the lifts. She surprised herself and she definitely impressed herself. And I coached her the same way I coached all the other women. I made her get her hips through when she deadlifted. I made her hold the bar overhead when she wanted to bring it down. “Keep your back tight!” I barked during the bench. 65 years or not. She was still my trainee for those three hours. And throughout the workshop, her smile never left her face.
With Diane, getting stronger has become an addiction. She started with us about four months ago, straight from physical therapy where she had been since the spring after she injured herself in a bootcamp class at another gym. Worst part? She injured herself on the first day of the class. ;( (I don’t know about the trainers at that gym, but if someone came to me and then injured herself so badly the first day she trained with me and then immediately started PT, I would re-think my programming and my coaching.)
Since she has been with us, Diane has not only gotten stronger, but she has improved her mobility in her hips and her shoulders so much that she was able to come to our workshop and get into a great low-bar back position and squat. Pressing was a different ball game and we already knew that this lift might give her trouble but coaching her through the deadlift and the bench was easy and she learned to get into a great position for both lifts.
Diane was in heaven. “This is so much fun!” she said as she racked the bar after her set of five squats. To hear a 62 year old woman say that squatting was fun brought me almost to tears. I cannot tell you how many younger people (women and men) would never say this type of training was fun. There are many women who would never even dream of trying to learn how to squat with a barbell. Many people simply have no interest, which is absolutely fine. No one says you HAVE to squat with a barbell. Others are just not open minded enough to stick with it or even try this type of training for fear of getting too big.
But Diane came because she wanted to come. She would watch my women train before her class. She understands and acknowledges the benefits of barbell training. Most importantly, she WANTS to do this kind of work. And she also knows how bad ass it is too. Diane is passionate about getting stronger and feeling better. Her new goal is to work her back and shoulders more so she can overhead press properly. And knowing her, it will only be a matter of time before she is not just pressing the bar, but snatching it too.
And then we have Jan. Ahhhhh. Jan. To say this woman is remarkable would be doing a disservice to her and everything she stands for. At 68 years old, while she is not my oldest client, (I have a 73 year old woman who is amazing in her own right), she is certainly older than most of my clients…..and getting stronger and stronger every day.
For Jan, this whole “getting strong thing” happened just this past July when she decided to try us out after meeting one of my other bad ass clients, Lauren. Jan started with our Basic Training Class and really struggled in the beginning. Learning how to squat, pull, even how to hinge, were difficult movements for her. She would get a little frustrated at times but she stuck with it and started to see improvements in her movement patterns in no time.
She started coming to class 3 times each week and each week, we tackled these movements and each time, she got better and better at them until finally, she started coaching others on the exercises. July passed and she signed up for the month. Now she is up to 3-4 times a week. The only logically thing to do next was to tackle the bar.
When we announced our strength workshop, she was the first one to sign up. Jan was like a kid in a candy shop. She tackled the squat which was a little difficult but not impossible. Pressing, however, was totally different story. She pressed the women’s bar like it weighed nothing. She deadlifted 100lbs (which is just about her bodyweight), conventional, no less. And she benched, acting like it was the most natural thing in the world for her to be doing.
Just the other day, she pressed 38# for 3 sets of 5 with waaaaay more in her. And she pressed it like a boss. There are women 40 years younger than she is who struggle with just the empty bar.
The woman is unstoppable.
What is most fascinating is to watch my older clients train because they train with such intensity. They really focus on positions and posture, and they practice the movement over and over and over again. They are so easy to coach because they really want to learn to move better, and they want to make sure they are doing everything right. Their motto, to quote Yoda, is “Do or Do Not. There is no Try.”
So to all of those who may say that they are too old to train, I have only three words for you: Joyce, Diane and Jan.