Age is only a number

“Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” Mark Twain

About a month ago, I wrote a blog post about the plight of the fitness industry – How the Fitness Industry Talks to Women. It was quite a popular post among men and women alike and for the most part, I received and continue to receive many positive comments about the article. It was great to know that I was not alone in my thinking!

However, I did receive one “negative” comment, not about the subject of the post (she thought it was quite humorous) but about one sentence. I thought I was being funny. Unfortunately, she did not. In the article, I mentioned that in 1997, when I was living in New York, I took a Funk Aerobics class – “Now, I will be honest and come clean. I used to take aerobics classes when I was in my early 20’s. In New York, I loved my Funk Aerobics class :-). This was 1997. Yes, I am that old :-). It was the line “Yes, I am that old,” that this reader took offense with. To be honest, I am not sure why I wrote it. I was trying to be a little tongue-in-cheek. I did not even think twice about it when I typed it. Below is her comment:

“when i was in my early 20’s… that was 1997. yes, i am that old”. That makes you late 30’s now? I agree with your entertaining article but why do you undo all your good advice by perpetuating the idea that youth is the ideal. just like skinny is the ideal? I am in my mid 40’s squatting 200+, doing pull-ups and handstand pushups. Stronger and (frankly) hotter than ever. What is your problem with aging? Your offhand comment is as demeaning and ridiculous as those poor women pursuing a long lean look with constant cardio. You lost me.

When I read her comment, I was shocked and a little upset because the last thing I wanted anyone to take away from the post was that youth is “the ideal.” Hardly!!!! Do I think that 37 is old!!! Hell no! Age does not make a difference in my mind….nor in any of my clients’ minds. All I know is that I am stronger, leaner, “younger” than I ever was in my 20’s. I feel better. I look better. I am better. I wrote her back immediately (not sure if she read my response or not) thanking her for her comment and tried to set the record straight. Just for the record, I wrote the post out of sheer frustration! I was so tired of seeing these ads in what I thought was a “professional fitness magazine” continuing to promote crap like Bad Kitty and Flirty Girl. It made me even more upset when I watched the creator of Bad Kitty basically tell women that exercise should be like when “you danced in front of your mirror when you were in junior high school.” For shame!!! Why are we afraid to really tell women that hard work, patience, persistence and a good diet is the best way to meet their goals of fat loss? Do we think that they won’t believe us? So, instead, we simply lie to them and produce more horrific DVD’s and create classes that are so outrageous that they belong on Saturday Night Live because they are truly spoofs of themselves. How can anyone take them seriously?

But I digress. The reader’s problem was not with the post but with my comment “Yes, I am that old.” Unfortunately, she knows nothing about me. And she does not have to know about me. Anyone who trains with me or is friends with me, knows that age is only a number in my book. It means nothing. In fact the older you are, the more likely I am to push you beyond where you think you can go. I train the 27 year olds who come to my gym the same way I train my 57 year olds. They all squat. They do push ups. They deadlift. They do kettlebell swings. They press. They do mountain climbers, farmer walks, waiter carries, sled drags. They sweat. They work. When you walk into my gym, my expectations for you are higher than you may have for yourself. I do not treat anyone differently. I struggled during my 20’s and early 30’s to lose weight. And to no avail. I gained. I lost. But I never felt any different. It was not until recently that I finally discovered the answer to my struggles. I started training to get strong and help my back issues and as a result, I got strong and lean. It was then that I realized what I wanted to do for people, for women in particular. Of any age. I wanted them to re-discover their bodies. Re-discover moving. Discover their true potential and capabilities. I wanted to help them realize they are stronger than they think. In my gym, I promote strength. I promote a healthy approach to training, eating and living. And we laugh…a lot.

It was difficult for me to respond at first. There were so many things running through my head. How can she say this to me? Didn’t she get that I was joking? She has no idea who I am. No, she doesn’t. And I realized that sometimes my writing will speak to people in different ways. No one else commented about that line. But it struck a note with her. And that’s okay. Youth was not the center of my article. Youth is neither good or bad. Young. Old. It doesn’t matter. Age is not something you have the power to change, so there is no point worrying about it. My issue with these programs is the message it sends to women. My issue is that women are continuously lied to when it comes to exercise, weight loss, etc. And as a woman, I understand feeling helpless or lost, unsure of what is right to do, what isn’t right. It is enough to make your head spin. Below is my complete response:

Hi Carmina,
Thank you for your comment. I apologize if my remark offended you. It was not intended that way! I was trying to be a little tongue in cheek with it, and I apologize if it did not come across like that. The intention of my post was not to perpetuate the idea that youth is ideal. On the contrary! I run a strength and conditioning gym and most of my clients, men and women alike, are between the ages for 40 and 60 years old. And we are one big happy strong family. I am a huge proponent of weight training, regardless of age and wish that more younger women would see the benefits of strength training and conditioning as all my female clients do. I am always telling my clients, “It is never too late to get strong.” That is why the come to me. They train to get strong. They train with barbells and kettlebells and dumbbells. They do push ups and chin ups and deadlifts. They love how getting stronger empowers them and makes them feel good. They are proud of their accomplishments, as am I. I push them and they push themselves. I hope that as I age, I continue to get stronger. I am stronger and more fit now at 37 than I ever was at 21. I only wish more women would train this way. I wish that I had discovered this way of training earlier, when I was at the peak of my dancing career too. It would have saved me from many injuries!

Carmina, I am proud of my accomplishments as I know you must be proud of yours. You and others like you are the women that I admire and respect. You are strong, fit and confident. That is all I want my trainees to be when they walk out of a session. Thanks again for your comment. I hope to hear from you again.

All I am trying to do is help women and men move better, get stronger and feel better. Simple goals. Simple programming. Real work. Real results.

7 thoughts on “Age is only a number”

      1. Lamont Henderson

        It is going well. Thanks a bunch for the reference!! I am still researching to determine how I want to proceed.

        1. Did you have to take a truck up when you went to pick up the bars or where you able to manage fitting them in your car?

          1. We actually ordered our bars from Rogue so they were delivered. We did buy two used bars and we used a truck to pick them up as well as the plates. I have bought kettlebells from Christian Fitness and picked them up to save on shipping. It is nice to have a place close by!

  1. A very thoughtful response, Emily, which is not surprising at all, because you are a thoughtful and classy person. The risk of misinterpretation and judgment by strangers is inherent in blogging. Thank you for being brave enough to face it so that we may benefit from your motivating words. I’m sorry to see this reader seems to have missed the forest for the trees.

    1. Thank you Jane. I really appreciate your feedback. I know that not everyone will always agree with what I or anyone else may have to say on a particular subject, and I have to be prepared to receive negative comments as well as positive. Writing is very subjective and can be interpreted in many ways. Thank you for reading!!!! 🙂

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