Does Age Dictate Your Exercises?

“If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear as it is – infinite” ~ William Blake, English artist and poet (1757-1827)

Courtesy of Austin 360.

When you walk into a typical yoga or mat Pilates class, who would you usually see? More men or women? And what age? 20s-30s? 40s-50s? 60s and up? Type in “yoga class” in Google and click on Images on the tab. What do you see?

And what about in a typical gym weight room? Who would you usually see?

A few days ago, a female friend, who is in her early 40s, wrote a post on her Facebook wall (which was deleted by her later) why do certain activities tend to be “dominated” by a certain gender and age category. Can we have an equal number of men and women in various ages participate in the same activities? And who suggests that kettlebell training is mainly for younger people and yoga and tai chi is for older people?

Our society tend to categorize activities based on age group. Apparently, many people think that certain activities that are more favorable to those who are in their 20s and 30s than those in their 40s and up. Although there is some validity in this thinking, it should NEVER be the only reason–or ANY reason–why you may or may not do certain activities.

I used to think that certain activities, such as breakdancing and gymnastics, should not be done by people over the age of 30, and tai chi and brisk walking should be done by “older” people–about 50s and up. However, when I started parkour in my early 30s and realized that there many people older than I who are doing amazing feats of endurance, agility, strength, and rhythm, I changed my perception of this age nonsense that limits my ability to perform. It is said that the only limitations you put upon yourself is your perception.

If you still think you are too old or unfit to try something new, consider these three examples of “older” people who defy the stigma of age and exercise.

1. Jackie Chan, b. 1954

Chan may be approaching his 60s, but age is not slowing him down. Even in his mid-40s, he could still perform amazing feats of agility , speed, and balance that few men his age and younger can compare.

2. Paddy Jones, b. 1935

Paddy is not restricted to chair exercises or typical activities that generally cater toward women and men her age. It is an inspiration to see that mobility, stability, coordination, and the spirit to move and dance has not diminished.

3. Ip Chun, b. 1924

The son of wing chun grandmaster, Ip Man, who trained Bruce Lee, Ip Chun still teaches the centerline combat art of wing chun kung fu that emphasizes on close-ranged combat and self-defense. Still in his 80s, he still teaches and trains at Wing Chun Athletic Association and can still take down guys one-fourth his age. He has no plans to retire.

4. Fauja Singh, b. 1911

Truly, Singh’s perception of his own health and fitness match his ability to perform, defying another limitation that society had placed. In 2011, at age 100, he completed a marathon in East London in eight hours, 25 minutes and 18 seconds, setting a new Guinness World Record for the oldest person to complete a marathon.

Your own perception of your ability to move and perform will determine what you can and cannot. The voices that tell you, “I’m too old” or “It’s too late to start” will eventually become a reality. What am I doing current at age 35.5 (a toddler compare to these four)? Parkour, salsa, bachata, strength training, wing chun. What would I like to do before I’m 40? Oh, the list is getting a bit longer every week. This includes gymnastics, capoeira, tango, Russian Kettlebell Challenge, and hung ga kung fu.

What about you? What do you want to do?

And speaking of kettlebells, my friend Joey Alvarado,  owner of SoCal MMA and Fitness in Los Angeles, CA, strength training is not only for men. Many of his female clients training with kettelbells, the body weight, and other methods. I still can’t believe many women think that this is not for them!

2 Responses to “Does Age Dictate Your Exercises?”
  1. Therese says:

    whoa, this info is wonderful i love reading your articles. Keep up the good work! You know, lots of people are searching around for this information, you could help them greatly.

    • Hi Therese. Thank you for the kind and helpful response. I haven’t been keeping my blog and website updated since this article. Many things are changing in my professional and personal lives recently.

      Are there really many people looking for the stuff that I post? If so, what kind of people are they? What are they looking for?

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