I had to help a friend last weekend help take his mother, who is in her nineties, out of her house to the car to take her to the hospital. She is almost completely immobile.
My friend is in his low 60s.
I volunteered to carry her myself, but instead the instructions were to have her sit on a chair and I would take one side of the chair and my friend the other. Having me carry her “would look silly” to the neighbors. [And having two grown men carry grandma like Cleopatra wouldn't?]
The caravan out to the car involved walking a few steps through the foyer, down the two front porch steps and across the front sidewalk about 20 paces to the car in the driveway.
My friend owns his own business and works hard every day. He is far from negligent about his health: he eats right and goes to his gym several times a week. I’ve heard him talk about how he goes every day after work. When he was younger he was very good at his sport and came close to playing it professionally.
When he’s at the gym he spends most of his time on a treadmill and then sits down to do some resitance training on the machines.
Aging: Movement and Posture
At her last Anti-Aging Workshop, Andrea DuCane said something really cool.
She said (paraphrasing here) “I can tell people have movement problems by looking at them.” She then taught us how to do the same (along with some more technical stuff).
My friend is an easy target, as are most Americans. His posture is kind of hunched over. He has very tight hip flexors from sitting most of his life. He will avoid using his butt at all costs. He very likely hasn’t hip hinged since he was a kid.
His movement and posture have deteriorated over the years, despite all the time, money, and effort he’s been spending on his cardio and even strength at his gym.
Knowing this, I was concerned that he was my lifting partner with the responsibility of holding a 94 year old woman 3-4 feet off the ground for 45 seconds or so.
My worries were confirmed when his every day posture went to lifting posture. His posture, quite predictably, went from bad to worse. His back rounded, his hips when forward instead of back, and all the weight distribution went to his toes. It was the perfect example of how not to do that.
I said a little prayer for poor grandma.
Effect on Cardio Health
Down the 2 steps and a little over halfway across the 20 pace walk to the car, my friend’s face was flushed and he was pouring with sweat. Granted, this was an awkward, unstable load. But grandma couldn’t weight much over 100 pounds.
He looked at me, with an honest sense of dread in his eyes and said “Sean…ah to be young again.”
Yes, I am chronologically younger than he is and there isn’t anything that can be done about that fact.
But chronological age is not the problem here. Its the fact he had no clue how to use his body.
His problem is that he has very poor posture and mobility. When he has to exert himself, even slightly, his poorly structured body cannot handle it. When you think of everything that man has invested in his health and well being for most of his adult life, you start to wonder about things.
His problem has been compounding for a long time and it is going to continue to get worse if he doesn’t do something about it.
His current gym membership is powerless to fix this problem. 100% futile.
His heart functions just fine as long as he’s in his very narrow comfort zone. If he gets out of for more than 5 seconds, everyone knows about it.
He could EASILY fix this, if he wanted to.
We have a relationship where I would feel highly uncomfortable suggesting anything to him, let alone shaking up his physical routine with a trip to an RKC (or any experienced kettlebell instructor) instead of the gym he’s been going to for years. Maybe I should anyways the next time I see him just to ease my conscience.
The Problem with the Anti-Aging Industry
This whole episode got me thinking about the anti aging industry. The estimated size of this industry is 96 billion dollars.
If you go on google and type in “anti aging” you get pages and pages and pages of skin cream type products or other anti aging cosmetics.
My friend’s workouts seem to be more cosmetic. A physical task that wasn’t very difficult made him feel old.
Just like any product, the anti aging product addresses a problem. Getting old is unpleasant and we buy things to hopefully reverse the effects of aging. We exercise and eat healthy to resist the effects of aging.
Shouldn’t we try to anti-age from inside first? Correct our posture and movement and get some confidence going with lifting fairly heavy objects and then go from there?
I’m working on a book review about a transformation that goes deep on just how radical this “movement transformation” is for anti aging and how its effects go far beyond knowing how to lift something and possessing improved endurance and even “feeling” younger.
It shows how this person gets stronger and feels younger with every passing year instead of the opposite. The problem of aging has been minimized, drastically.
Really? This isn’t realistic. To do away with this industry you have to do away with the human urge to combat the negative effects of aging and that won’t happen. To do that you have to deny there are in fact negative effects of aging – which I don’t see happening any time soon.
It might be hubris on my part, but I want us to rethink what “anti-aging” means without demonizing it.
There are good things about aging, and there are bad things, just like anything else.
If you could be stronger and more mobile than you ever were in addition to the experience and wisdom you get from aging, would you?
You can have the best cosmetics money can buy, but if you don’t do something about your posture and movement then you’re stuck in my friend’s shoes: doing any little thing outside your narrow comfort zone makes you feel old.
You feel old when you could feel younger, maybe even a lot younger.
This isn’t an attack on anti-aging cosmetic products, merely stating their limitations. Cosmetics can’t help with this facet of aging.
If you don’t anti-age through posture and movement as a means to building strength, your body is going to fall apart much faster than it otherwise would or has to.
If My friend Knew How to Use His Body
With the right strength and movement tools the situation with my friend would have had a different result.
He would have easily lifted his side, walked down the steps and over to the car: no sweat, no weakness, no problem.
He wouldn’t have said “ah to be young again,” because he wouldn’t have felt old.