Fitness After 50: Healthy habits of senior celebs

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By Vicki Morgan

ADMIRAL WILLIAM HENRY McRAVEN
“Don’t forget to make your bed!” That was the theme that frequently ran through Admiral McRaven’s motivational speech to young graduates. William is a retired US Navy Four-Star Admiral who last served as the ninth commander of the United States Special Operations Command. He then served as Chancellor of the University of Texas System.  According to Admiral McRaven, making your bed helps you accomplish the first task of the day.

“Not only will it give you a sense of pride, it also will encourage you to one task after another. By the end of the day, many tasks are completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter. If you can’t do the little things right, you’ll never be able to do the big things right.”

We would do well to heed his advice.

After making his bed, William gets busy with his next healthy habit, an exercise routine. He starts off with 100 crunches and then a 35-rep pushup format; 35 on, 35 rest, 35 on, 35 rest.  Then he does pull-ups, dips, weights and some rounds with a Body Opponent Bag (basically a torso punching bag).

Granted, not many of us are able to train like a retired four-star Admiral. But we certainly can be inspired, even motivated, by the healthy habits of other seniors. As the holidays wrap up and winter closes in, we need motivation and encouragement to keep going. I know I do. That’s why I wrote this article. I’m in the trenches, fighting the battle against apathy right alongside you. Hopefully the following list will light a fire under us all.

HALLE BERRY: AGE 50+ Halle Berry is a few years over 50, and her youthful figure is hard-earned. Her rigorous routine includes yoga, boxing, kickboxing, jumping rope, and even Muay Thai (a dynamic martial arts form that focuses on total body conditioning, coordination, balance, body weight strength, mobility, reaction time, and high intensity (HIIT).

BAI JINQIN, 75-YEAR-OLD BODYBUILDING ADEPT

This is the official Chinese press release, so out of respect to their adherence to strict wording, I will reprint it here. Her picture says it all. Bai has been working out for the past 14 years. She was a late bloomer. After finishing her housework, Bai likes to spend one hour every day at the gym to build her body. The hobby has rewarded her with good physique and energy. (Xinhua)
EMILY SAMUEL
Celebrity fitness trainer Emily Samuel works with famous seniors like Hugh Jackman out of her New York gym, Dogpound. She believes that working out should not be a chore. She teaches fun and functional movements that not only get the heart pumping, they are also relevant to the physical challenges it takes to get through the day. Samuel recommends that regardless of age, everybody should try to learn the following essential movements: jump rope, squats, planks, overhead presses, push-ups, mountain climbers, lunges, pull-ups and Pilates-style hollow holds.

SENIOR MARATHON RUNNERS AND ATHLETES:

EDWINA BROCKLESBY: 75+ Triathlete

Edwina is the UK’s oldest Ironman triathlete. She was recently awarded the British Empire Medal. Despite a host of knee ligament issues, she ran her first marathon in 1996, when she was 53. She completed her first London Triathlon when she was 58. Edwina is the director of Silverfit, a charity that promotes physical activity among aging people.

EDDY DIGET: Personal Trainer: 74+ stuntman, model and martial artist

Eddy is a lifetime cross-trainer in cross-country running; ice skating; roller skating; fencing; cycling, diving and swimming. He’s been weight training for about 45 years and was a British bodybuilding champion twice. He has been recognized as a Shaolin Master for his commitment to Chinese martial arts. His father was an extremely aggressive man, and he credits that upbringing with his success. “He used to knock me and my mother about quite a bit. The only way I could escape from him was to be outside and that’s how I discovered sport.  One day, when I was 16, my mum came round with a black eye. She said: “Joe’s in a real bad mood. He’s coming to find you.” He returned his father’s punches with his newly learned Kung Fu and blinded his father in one eye. He says he wasn’t happy about it, but it brought a newfound peace to the family.

GWYN HASLOCK: 70+ surfer – Britain’s first competitive female surfing champion

“I always say to people, the most important thing with surfing is paddling. You need to be fit to build up the momentum and then it’s like floating in air, but across the wave. The conditions are never the same and it always tests you.”

IDA KEELING: 104+ sprinter

Ida goes to the gym, rides her bike, works out, stretches and reaches and does push-ups. She was another late bloomer. At 67, after losing both her sons to drug-related violence, her daughter coaxed her into taking a mini-run. She recalls, “It did good for me. It kept me moving. I could feel myself getting stronger and feeling more free. It helped me immensely. And I’m still running now. Now I’m 104, I’m not so fast. But I go whatever distance I can and if I start a race, I finish it. I’m usually chasing myself. But I go with what I’ve got left. I go to the gym, I ride my bike, I work out, I stretch, I reach, I do push-ups, I do upper weights, I get on the floor and turn my feet up over my head, and when I don’t get out, I stay right here and work out in my room. I’m as healthy as a 25-year-old, my doctor says. I have no intention of slowing down. Age ain’t got nothing to do with it. When you really want to do something for yourself, go and do it. And if you fail, try, try, try again.”

RUTH BADER GINSBURG

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg turned 86 recently. You may or may not agree with her politics, but we can all agree that fitness is important at any age. Ginsburg is a four-time cancer survivor. When she’s able, she works out with her personal trainer, Bryant Johnson. Twice a week they go through the workout from his book, The RBG Workout: How She Stays Strong and You Can Too.

Her workout starts with warm-ups and light stretching, then into the workout which includes push-ups, planks, chest presses, squats, and hip abductor exercises. Then it’s back to stretching as a cool down.

Do these feats sound like a tall order? You bet. Can you start today with something simple? You bet.  Before you try anything new, be sure and learn the proper form. Even simple movements require support, preparation, temperance, patience and professional instruction. Injury happens in the blink of an eye! If you feel any pain or twinge at all, STOP what you’re doing. It’s best to have someone help you in the first stages of attempting a new activity. Start simply, with movements you know that you can do, and slowly work up from there. If you need free PDF exercise ideas, please email me at victoryfitnessteam.com. If you want me to mail them to you, you’ll just have to pay for the printing and postage.

As we close out this decade, we need to remember that there’s only one way we travel in time – forward. May you get new inspiration, creativity, a sense of well-being and motivation … let’s push through the challenges this year together — with a healthy perspective and attitude. Happy New Year!

REFERENCES:

The Business Insider, The Guardian, The Mirror Online, CNN.com, Survivor.net

Vicki Morgan CPT ACTION is a Senior Strength & Fitness Instructor at Flex Gym and Fitness. You can reach her at 719-445-8566 or visit seniorstrength.pro. Remember to consult a physician before beginning any exercise program. If you experience pain or difficulty, stop and consult your healthcare provider. This article is not meant to take the place of any treatment or activity your physician has deemed necessary. 

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