Staying Fit In Your Fifties Russ Leonard 11-10-15 ,updated 1-30-16
It is hard for me to believe that in a year and a half I will be 60 years old. My fifties are flying by at an unbelievable pace and the changes that have occurred during the past 8-1/2 years are also hard to believe. Before you can fully appreciate what I have done in my fifties to stay fit, you need to know a little more about the decades leading up to my fifties.
I was an active kid who got his first weight set about the age of 13. I worked out at home and with friends until I was 27 years old and joined my first gym. This was an "old school" gym. The gym was a gym, not a health club or fitness center. It was full of competitive bodybuilders and power lifters. It did not have any cardio equipment, just thousands of pounds of iron and the racks and benches on which to use it. What set it apart from most gyms were the owners who only wanted natural steroid free members. One of the owners won the natural Mr. USA contest in the mid 90's.
From day one, I worked out hard. Much harder than most. I was on a mission with goals in dead lifting, squatting and bench pressing. The dead lift and squat goals came easy. The bench press was another story. By the time I turned 34, I was much stronger and looking a lot bigger but my weight had not really increased much. I basically had lost a lot of fat and replaced it with muscle. Having only a 30" waist added to the illusion of size. An interesting thing happened when I was 34. I had my first ache or pain related to lifting. Somehow I had managed to avoid all forms of injury during the previous years. My left shoulder started to bother me. When I mentioned it to a couple of the real old guys (over 50) they just laughed and basically said it is only the beginning.
One day about a year later, I was doing some very heavy decline bench presses. One of the competitive bodybuilders was watching me. He was 45 years old at the time and had won many bodybuilding titles over the previous 15 years. For him to stop his workout and watch me was totally out of character. After I had finished he offered some advice. I don't remember the exact words but he said " enjoy it while you can, because I am 100% sure you won't be lifting like that in another 10 years". He went on to win the natural Mr. America contest in the Masters division (old people over 45 ) later that year. I did listen to him. His resume and experience spoke for itself. But he was wrong. I wish he was right, because 6 years and 9 months later, I fell apart. At 41 years and 9 months of age I reached my all time peak in strength and power. The toll it had taken on me was incredible. It was as if a self destruct timer had been secretly implanted in me years earlier and had finally gone off. Both shoulders and both elbows were a wreck. My left knee and right wrist were also injured. I had been ignoring all the warning signs and was finally paying the price. I had done things that very few people under 170 lbs had ever done but at what cost?
Fortunately for me, my stupidity did not continue. From that day on I changed my entire approach in the gym. I never did another heavy dead lift, squat or bench press again. I never did another heavy military press or clean and jerk. I stopped doing almost everything that required a straight bar which meant I stopped power lifting. It was an enormous physical and psychological change for me. I almost quit the gym. That would have been out of character for me. I gravitated to dumbbells, a little more cardio and circuit training. Circuit training is what saved me from self destructing and kept my interest in the gym. I found something where I could be extremely intense and at the same time minimize my injuries. Of course I still had my share of aches and pains throughout the balance of my 40's, but they were manageable. A small group of us would have a very intense workout every Friday which consisted of lifting, many body weight exercises and small bursts of cardio. The sessions would last over an hour with zero rest between anything. They became know as the "Friday Workout". Many people asked to give it a try over the years but no one else ever permanently joined the group.
Body weight exercises, circuit training, lifting dumbbells and interval cardio training continued into my 50's. And that is where this story really starts.
When I turned 50, I was in the best overall condition of my life. Sure I was stronger at 40, but at 50 I had endless energy. I would still have an occasional minor injury, with the key being minor. For about the next 18 months I was able to maintain that peak level of fitness. Four days before my 51st birthday I managed to do 4130 knuckle push-ups in 3 hours and 19 minutes at a charity event. I raised thousands of dollars for cancer research. My employer alone gave me $2.00 per push-up. It received a lot of attention from the local press in both print and television coverage. It was nice from a fundraising standpoint but I did not really care for it personally. It was nice to see some good for others come out of my thousands of hours of hard work in the gym.
At every Birthday from age 48 to 56, I would do something special that I would never attempt again. It was like a farewell tour of certain exercises.The reason was simple. I was getting older and wiser. The last time I did any heavy curls was on my fifty-third birthday. The last time I touched a pair of 100 lb dumbbells for presses was when I turned 54. It was a simple admission of the aging process that continues to this day.
What has prompted me to write this is that I have a problem. Another one of those hidden timers has gone off. But this time it is in both my body and head and much more subtle. As I write this, I feel great!. Nothing hurts and I am still in good shape. So what is the problem? A steady slow physical weakening and less motivation to do anything about it. I am in a happy place called retirement. I still enjoy exercise of all types. I walk or hike every day. Tomorrow will be the 500th consecutive day of walking and hiking. I bought a mountain bike in early August. I have added a daily ride, weather permitting. I lift weights (light ones ) every day for 75 minutes. I am very active, BUT, The intense killer attitude of my youth is being replaced by a more laid back and mellow retirement attitude. I lack intensity. Intensity is what drives results. It also causes injury. I really like being pain free. I have been wondering what to do about it, or if I should even try to do anything about it.
I decided that I need to set an achievable fitness goal that won't kill me in the process. I am very aware that I will have to change my expectations more often as I prepare to enter my 60's. So much of what I have done over the years is a direct result of my attitude, discipline and intensity. People that know me, don't talk about how much weight I used to lift or how many push-ups I did. They say they wish they had my determination, intensity and commitment. What scares me, is that is what I lack right now.
My good friend Alice just finished her last marathon of the year and will now be coming over 4 days per week instead of one or two, to workout with me. She is a veteran of the "Friday Workouts". We are going to bring back a lesser version of those workouts. I have also devised a simple test of my conditioning that I will take sometime in February. It will be an upper body, lower body and core test. It will consist of 200 military push-ups in less than 200 seconds, immediately followed by 300 body weight squats to a height of 14"( butt must kiss the step), immediately followed by a 15 minute plank. With my quads on fire from the squats, I am sure the plank will be a lot of fun. If I pass the test and I will, it will be a great mental achievement with a little physical discomfort. Just writing this has fired me up a little. Looking ahead to my sixties just got a lot better. Update 12-17-15. I have started to prepare for my test with a little extra effort during the past two weeks. The push-ups will not be a problem since I can already meet my goal. The squats are going to be a little harder than I thought, but I can do it. The big problem is the plank. I did a four minute plank the other day and my shoulders were killing me. I had not considered that my shoulders were going to be an issue with the plank. I am working on it. If I do not make the 15 minute plank, it will not be for lack of trying. I definitely will not risk injury to prove a point. I would have 30 years ago but not now. I am not on an intense mission but at least I am motivated. Update 1-25-16. During this past month I have added a few extra push-ups and squats to my routine, but have not practiced my planks much. I am starting to realize that at my age, cranking up the intensity to meet a future goal probably will result in not reaching that goal. In a couple of weeks or less I will try the test. I am 100% confident that I will succeed with my push-up and squat goals. It is highly unlikely that I will be able to do a 15 minute plank. Too many years of abusing my shoulders has caught up with me. I will give it my best shot, short of injuring myself. I am curious to see what will happen but not ready yet. I am walking a fine line between advancement and injury. I do not want to cross that line. Unfortunately someone keeps moving that line when I am not looking. Update 1-30-16. I know it is still January but I decided to go for it today. After all I am not getting any younger, why wait another day. I blew through the 200 push-ups in 145 seconds. My shoulders and right elbow were complaining a little. The 300 squats were a lot easier than I thought they would be. After the first 180, the comfort level wasn't too good but it certainly was not pain. The squats took 13 minutes. Now for the plank. After the first 30 seconds I knew that there was no way I was going to do a 15 minute plank. In reality, I knew that before I started. I did a 5 minute plank with basically no practice. I would not have survived the practice. At minutes, 5 my shoulders were on fire. What really made me stop was my right elbow. It hurt and not just a pushing myself hard hurt. The best part about the plank was that I had no issues with my core and a plank is a core exercise. What did I learn by doing this? At almost 59 years of age I can still do things that many 20 year olds can not. I know that really does not mean anything, except it does make me feel good. The most important thing that I learned is that you don't have to give up as you age, just cut back. Setting realistic goals and working toward them is very important. I just picked the wrong core exercise. I can't see myself doing fast sets of push-ups any more. The rapid change of direction plays havoc with my joints. Actually, slower push-ups are harder to do. If I can still do 100 strict, slow push-ups, non-stop, when I am 60, I will be very happy. Sounds like a new goal. Squats make me feel good. They are one of those exercises that invigorates the whole body. I need to keep them in all my routines in the future. I also need to start doing more lunges as well. Avoiding injury will be a high priority as I age. Making a complete comeback after an injury gets increasingly difficult as you age. I do not want to be one of those people that lives in denial and pays a big price for it. I know that there is absolutely nothing that I can currently do better than I did even 5 years ago, with regards to exercise. I have no issue with that at all. Hopefully 10 years from now I will be able to make the same statement but still look forward to some new goals that will be good for a 70 year old. My body is not what it used to be but my head is in the right place.
The ABC's of Fitness Russ Leonard 3-11-17
Catchy title but not want you think. This is all about the big picture, not the details. The high level philosophical B.S. that only age can bring. When you are young and usually dumb, you can pretty much do anything you want with respect to fitness and suffer little or no side effects. For some that may include marathons or triathlons. For me it was lifting crazy heavy weights for a "Skinny little white boy" as I was often refered to in the gym. I like to call this your "A" schedule or routine. Most professional athletes seem to stay on their "A" schedule until their low or mid 30's. Some unfortunately don't make it that far. I was lucky to stay on my "A" schedule until I was almost 42 years old.
At some point in your 30's or 40's your body starts talking to you. Of course you don't want to listen. Your body wants you to go on the "C" schedule, which will not hurt you but will diminish your strength and overall abilities. So what do you do? You compromise and go on the "B" schedule, which still might include some limited "A" items but is less intense and allows for a continuation of whatever you chose at a diminished level. You have not given up, just cut back. I was on my "B" schedule for the past 17 plus years. I had a few intense "A" moments mixed in but seemed to know where the line always was. Those that ignore all the warning signs and don't make the decision to cut back and go on their "B" schedule, will unfortunately end up on the dreaded "D" schedule. The "D" schedule of course is, none of the above or washed up and done. I know plenty of "D" schedule people. I am glad I did not follow that path.
Just recently my "B" schedule stopped working because of some injuries as I detailed in my previous two "Staying Healthy" posts. I am now exploring the full "C" schedule which is uncharted territory. My body is now calling all the shots. No more artificial or self imposed goals. The "C" schedule is full of new adventures and unknowns. I enter this phase with no regrets and much enthusiasm. True, it did happen much sooner than expected but I am okay with that. The "C" schedule will be ever changing and I must be alert and honest with myself, with respect to my abilities. There will be plenty of things that just will not work for me, while at the same time plenty of pleasant surprises. The other day I tried some new back stretches. Some worked great, some I will never attempt again. Finding out where the new "no go" zone is, will be difficult at times because I intend to try many new things. The key will be to fully engage my brain before trying anything new. Way back when I was on my "A" schedule I think my brain may have been turned off.
Ultimately everyone ends up on the "D" schedule. For me, I hope I am many years from that. I generally like to look to the future and not look back. But every now and then while working on my "C" schedule I just may reminisce about the days when I kicked some big time "A".
Injury Recovery and the Aging Process Russ Leonard 12-30-16
The fact that I am writing about this is not good. Some 22 days ago I had a semi-serious shoulder injury. Without going into too much detail, I slipped on some ice (frozen fog) while holding onto the door handle of my shed. Of course I did not let go. It is a normal reaction to look for something to grab while you are falling. So I tore up my shoulder a little. Third time for my right shoulder. The instant it happened I knew the extent of the injury and what lies ahead. Or did I? I am getting older. I have needed to make far too many recoveries over the years. Some were due to repetitive motion, some due to sudden trauma.
Initially I was pissed. My wife came out immediately. She heard me string some profanity together and knew something happened. Within a couple of minutes of my initial reaction, I was already planning my road to recovery. I did not go to a doctor. That may sound strange to some of you. I did not need to go through a whole bunch of tests and spend thousands of dollars to have someone tell me that I hurt my shoulder. That would not be my advice to others. Unfortunately I am experienced at this and have a pretty good idea of the damage done. That being said, I immediately went into the house and started icing the injury. Icing immediately after trauma has almost miraculous results. I iced it several times for the first two days, being careful not to freeze my skin while being very aggressive with the icing. I made sure that I limited my range of motion but did not immobilize the area. Within one week 75% of my full range of motion had returned. As of today 90 % of my range of motion has returned but with a little more pain than I was expecting. I have been doing light exercises several times a day, being very careful not to further aggravate the injury. My goal is to resume a normal lifting schedule on 2-1-17.
Almost two years ago I had a similar injury to my left shoulder due to trauma. I was amazed at the full non-surgical recovery that I made. That was almost two years ago. Two years may not seem like much but it is. The harsh reality is that age messes with the bodies ability to do most everything. I say most everything because I seem to be able to grow hair in my ears now. Certainly could not do that when I was 20.
I think I am making good progress but something is slightly different. For the first time I am not 100% sure that I will make a full recovery. I have the discipline and dedication to do all the right things. My diet is extremely good. I already eat most all the super foods that promote good health. I have been blessed with great genetics. Before I hurt myself, I was in top condition. I had regained some extra strength and size and was feeling great. I was completely satisfied with the way I looked. How many people can say that at my age?
I know there will come a time when I will no longer be able to lift the weights that I do or power hike up a mountain or do many of the things that I have been doing for years. I will adapt and do what I can. Without a positive attitude, full recovery would never be possible at my age ( soon to be 60). The big question is, has that time come or will I pull off another great recovery. There is a great line from the last Rocky Movie. "Time is undefeated." Truer words have never been spoken when it comes to fitness and athletic ability. I am hoping I still have time. I could always be one of those skinny runners or cyclists. No, actually I couldn't. At least not until I am 90.
Fighting Heredity Russ Leonard 5-25-17
I have noticed a few changes lately. I have just recently started to get a few aches and pains that do not seem to be related to any physical activity that I am currently doing or any previous injury. These are minor aches in my left hip and left hand. Could I be getting a touch of arthritis? After all I am over 60 now. What is amazing about this is that it took me this long to possibly develop a little arthritis. Arthritis runs rampant in our family. Both sides of the family, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and siblings have or had arthritis. Most had arthritis at an early age. Could it be just a coincidence that I am the only one in the recent history of our family to have dodged the arthritis bullet? My mother had both hips replaced. Her brother had hip replacement surgery. My father and mother had degenerative arthritis in their backs. The list goes on and on.
Could I have won the healthy joint lotto? Could it be pure luck? I actually believe in making my own luck. There has been more than one sports figure who has said " The more I practice the luckier I get". I practice an extremely healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise and a great diet. I have been making my luck for decades. No one else in my family has ever come close to my level of discipline with respect to living a healthy lifestyle.
Of course there is no hard proof that my exercise and diet regimen has led to my good fortune but the circumstantial evidence is overwhelming. Many of the foods that I have been consuming on a regular basis for many years have been clinically proven to reduce inflammation in the body. These include almonds, blueberries, strawberries, carrots and spinach. I eat a lot of nuts and fresh fruits and vegetables. I have for at least the last 30 years. I eat them because I like them and I know they are good for me. If I did not like them, I would not eat them. I know avocados are healthy but I do not like them and never eat them or any avocado derivative.
I often view my lifestyle as a long term science project. I like to experiment with both my diet and exercise routine. Which is a good thing because adaptation and change are required as you age, especially with exercise. I am always careful to only have one variable at a time so as not to confuse the results. This approach has enabled me to determine foods that I can not eat due to minor allergies or other problems. I eventually gave up almost all dairy by slowly eliminating certain types of dairy from my diet. This eliminated some congestion and intestinal issues. Strawberry ice cream is not subject to these rules. No diet is perfect and as strict as I am, I still occasionally cheat.
I do believe that heredity will eventually catch up with me. Through a disciplined lifestyle I have managed to delay the inevitable and hopefully minimized it's affects for the future.
It Happened Sooner than Expected! Russ Leonard 3-2-17
During this past October and November, I was on a roll. I was feeling great. I was at a level of fitness that I had not seen in a couple of years. I had found a way to slowly ramp up my workouts without any noticeable side effects. I could never have predicted the chain of events that were to occur over the next three months. On 12-7-16 I could have passed any fitness evaluation in strength, speed, agility or endurance and have been rated at the highest level for someone that was in the 25-30 year old range. On December 8th I hurt my right shoulder in a fall on some ice. By 2-20-17 I was a total train wreck.
When I first hurt my shoulder I knew it might be different this time. After all, I have had multiple shoulder injuries over the years and I am not getting any younger. My initial recovery is detailed below. While I was recovering from my shoulder other things started to happen. I was over using my other arm, whether it was one handed snow shoveling or any other normal daily function. My left shoulder started to hurt. Then my left wrist and hand started to hurt. I could no longer sleep on my right side so my back started getting sore. As all of these little things started to pile up, I was forced to curtail some of my activities ( not my daily walk). I was also working on a project in the cold unheated garage for 6 to 8 hours a day. That probably did not help. On 2-15-17 I attempted 12 push-ups and was happy that I could do them. I felt that I was turning the corner and good things were about to happen. WRONG! The next day I did one set of 15 push-ups then I attempted 25 but stopped after 22. The pain in my "good" shoulder made me stop. It was real pain, not discomfort. I then went out for my daily walk. Twice within 5 minutes I slipped on some ice and almost fell. Each time I felt a sharp pain in my lower back. The back that was already sore from new sleeping positions. I did not think much of it at the time but as the day wore on I was experiencing more and more back pain. Then my back started to spasm. Not much fun at all. That night and the next three were basically sleepless. I could not sit or lay down. I could walk slowly and I did.
Enough of the gory details. It is 3-2-17 and my back is good. My left side is almost back to "normal" and my right shoulder is still screwed up, but only a little. I have been working hard at stretching out my back, doing plenty of walking and backing off the weights. I have thought a lot about how suddenly I went from top athletic form to a pathetic aching little old man. A very humbling experience. I am a very data driven individual so I have analyzed all the things that I did wrong. Actually most of my problems came from poor judgement combined with a little bad luck. What I am most guilty of is severely under estimating the negative consequences. It was not a subtle wake-up call. It was a clubbing across my head with a kick in the groin for good measure.
I do not want to repeat this process so I am making some significant changes to my exercise program. But first I am only going for a walk on icy days in the daylight and with my cramp-ons, which I did use several times this winter. Obviously not on the days that I fell or almost fell. Of all my recent issues the back spasms were by far the worst. I attribute this to my slacking off on core exercise. I have rededicated myself with respect to my core work.
During the past year I have noticed that push-ups have become more painful. Chest presses with dumbbells have been okay as long as I limit myself to sets of 20 reps with 45lbs in each hand. This past October and November I was using the 60lb set more often. I was even thinking I could have worked up to 60 reps of the 60's by my 60th birthday. I must not have been thinking clearly. Well, for chest I have parked the sixties for good. Three quality sets of 20-25 reps with the 45's is good enough. I am certainly not near that now but plan to be within a couple of months. I gave up on the 100lb dumbbells only 6 years ago. The future is light weights and plenty of reps with good form. I hope I can use the 45's for a few more years. It is somewhat funny that my maximum weights are now less than my warm up weights of 20 years ago.The dumbbell change is minor. The next change almost redefines what I have done and what I am known for.
One of the only nicknames that my wife has for me that I can print is "The Push-up Man". Without a doubt I have done more push-ups than 99.999% of the worlds population. In 2010 I averaged over 1000 a day for the first 200 days of the year. I had to back off due a repetitive motion injury. ( no surprise there ). I have probably done a couple of million push-ups. Knuckles, finger tip, one arm, balancing on one, two, three or four medicine balls, with my wife sitting on my shoulders, with a backpack full of weights. The list goes on and on. Nothing will be added to the list. I will never do a push-up again. There is no reason to. Almost 20 years ago I walked away from all power lifting moves and have never attempted even one rep since. That messed with my head a little, this was an easy decision. It is time to move on and do different things. My body has spoken and I am listening. Anyone that knows me and reads this will be in shock. It was a very easy decision to make.
I will still lift light weights. I will be doing more stretching and some yoga. I will concentrate on balance and ramp up low impact cardio. I will eat healthy and do my best. If this does not work I will try something else. I am operating in uncharted territory. I will adapt as required. I could compile a massive list of exercises that I no longer do. I could also make even a bigger list of things that I have never tried to do. But most importantly, as far as I know, there are no items on the list that I should stop doing. Killing off the last of the heavier weights and stopping my push-ups has taken care of that.
If someone had told me even a few months ago that I would be totally revamping my exercise routine and would never do another push-up, I would have laughed. You often hear of elderly people that are in apparently good health, then fall, break a hip, become immobile, catch pneumonia and die, all within a short time frame. I can now clearly see how that can happen.
I have been blessed with great genetics and have combined that with an incredible work ethic over the years. I now have learned a great lesson in how things can take a dramatic change for the worse. Maybe a few months from now I will be able to look back at this ruff time and be thankful it was not worse.
It is now time for my afternoon core, balance and stretching session. I am so glad I can write that and even happier that I can do it.
How to Start a Fitness Routine When You Retire Russ Leonard 5-31-17
It is never too late to start a fitness routine. It must be done properly. You will need to aquire new skills, knowledge and probably will need help. The number one rule when starting a fitness routine at an older age is to Do No Harm. The number two rule is to find some type(s) of exercise that you will enjoy and incorporate into a new and improved lifestyle.
The number one reason or excuse that is given for not exercising is lack of time. If you just retired you should have plenty of time. There are always rare exceptions. The first step in starting a new exercise program is to decide why you are doing it. What is your primary motivation? Are you really motivated or is someone else pushing you in a direction that you do not want to go? What do you want to accomplish? Improve your general health? Possibly eliminate the need for maitenance drugs? Keep up with the grandkids? If your motivations come from within and have the support of others your chance for success will greatly improve. What are your odds of success? About 5%. Approximately 95% of people that start a regular exercise routine no longer exercise on a regular basis after three months. There is no reason why you can not be that one out of twenty person. I am going to make it easier for you to succeed by laying out the following simple plan for you.
For this example we will use an imaginary person named Bob. Bob just retired at the age of 65. Bob is typical for his age. He is about 40 lbs overweight . Approximately 77% of 65 year old males in the US are overweight or obese. When Bob was younger he was active and participated in many sports. He still plays some golf but usually rents a cart and does not walk. Bob is on medication for high cholesterol and elevated blood pressure levels. His blood sugar is almost pre diabetic. He has a few aches and pains that could be arthritis but has never had any serious injuries or surgeries. Are you a Bob?
Let's say that Bob is truly excited about his new found freedom of retirement and all the available time that he now has. His motivations are real and even though he never ran at all in his life he always dreamed of running a 5 or 10k race. He also wants to get a little definition in his upper body, lose 25 lbs, and improve his self esteem. Well, Bob has big plans and if he does not take the right approach with the right attitude he is going to end up as one of the 95% and be very disappointed.
The first step for Bob. See his Doctor and discuss his plans. Get a physical and work with his doctor to set boundries or limits that he must stay within so he does not injure himself or cause a medical emergency. Making sure there are no underlying medical conditions is critical. Remember the first rule. DO NO HARM. Bob is not a kid anymore. Males in particular seem to have ego problems and somehow think they can still do things that they used to twenty years ago. Twenty years ago I used to do pullups with a 100 lb dumbbell hanging from my waist belt, multiple sets of 10. If I tried it today I would end up in the hospital with multiple injuries. It is okay to remember the past just do not try to live in it.
Let's say that Bob got approval from his doctor to start an exercise program. So where does Bob start? Run out and join a gym? Definitely NOT! Bob needs a plan. Bob needs to think things through clearly and have realistic expectations. Remember all that new found time that Bob got when he first retired. It is disappearing fast. The kids think they now have a full time free babysitter for the grandkids, Bobs buddies want him to play in a new golf league, his best friend has a new boat and Bob loves to fish. You get the idea. Time gets eaten up so fast that within a few months one wonders how they ever had time to work.
So step one of Bob's actual exercise program is to properly allocate time for whatever he ends up doing. My advice to Bob would be designate an hour a day at the same time every day for his exercise. Make it early in the day so other things don't get in the way or cause distractions. There are too many opportunities to blow it off if the designated time slot is late in the day or evening.
Bob was always an early riser so he has chosen 7:00 to 8:00 AM for his exercise time slot. Bob plans to get up at 5:30 AM have his breakfast and coffee and read the morning paper until 7:00 AM. Bob is off to a great start. Bob has decided to do this everyday except Sunday. Bob now has his time scheduled but what is he going to do? Bob is going to test his committment to his new program by going for a leisurely walk each morning. Bob is going to start with a slow but steady 20 minute walk for the first few days. The worst thing Bob could do would be to start too aggressive, get sore and quit before his real exercise plan is developed and started. Bob can assess the way he feels and slowly increase his walking until he gets up to an hour a day. Bob needs to use the entire hour each day. At first he may just work in the yard a little after his initial 20 minute walk. This is doing two very important things for Bob. It is establishing a new routine or habit that will make his daily workout seem like a normal part of the day. The walking is providing a simple form of exercise that is easy on the body and will start to help Bob's aerobic conditioning. If Bob is successful at maintaining his committment for a minimum of 2 months he will be ready to invest more than just his time in his new program. What!!, two months? Yes two months. Research has shown that on average it takes a little more than two months to establish a new routine. Before anyone goes out and joins a gym or hires a personal trainer, they need to be sure that they are not wasting their money. Remember, 95% of those that start a new program quit within 3 months. Many only last a few days. The gym wants your money and many gyms hope you will never show up. They also want to lock you into a contract. Never agree to that.
It has now been 9 weeks since Bob started walking. He already feels better and has lost 8 pounds. He is now ready to fully implement his exercise plan. Bob does not have a clue and needs help. Bob needs information and guidance. Bob needs a professional personal trainer if he can afford one. Picking a trainer is like picking a Dentist or Doctor. It is not easy and you need to find a competent person who will do more than take your money. Find a certified professional that comes highly recommended. Stay away from the gym trainers that wear the trainer shirt and once took a two hour class. A real trainer has completed a serious education program and has practical experience. The advice that they give you can potentionally help you fufill your dreams or potentionally kill you. Bob has the cash and is looking for a trainer. He needs to interview his potential trainer(s) and must feel comfortable with that person. A word of caution. Any trainer that does not want to discuss your medical history or ask if you have medical clearance is not a real trainer.
Bob has now been working with his trainer for a few weeks. Bob has transitioned from his one hour walk to a twenty minute run/walk program, some resistance training and stretching. Bob's original goal of doing a 5 or 10K race looks like it will become reality. Bob's trainer has been educating Bob so that he will eventually be able to go off on his own and no longer need to spend his money on advice. Bob has decided to join a gym but has negotiated a 3 month membership to determin if a gym is right for him. Most importantly Bob is feeling better than he has in years and has lost a few more pounds. All of his goals are now in sight.
Six months later. Through discipline, committment and professional help, Bob just ran a 5K road race in 29 minutes. The former couch potato has beaten the odds. He is a 5 percenter. Congratulations Bob! I hope you are all Bobs.