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Age, Profession and Family: Excuses, or opportunities?

I remember an incident from my teenage days when I was told after finishing a somewhat grueling weight training workout in the gym by one of the gym members seemingly in his 40s,

"Son, it's always easy when you are this young. Age brings with it, its own challenges and disadvantages, which will keep pulling you away form your machismo ridden lifting theatrics which you just did. "

For a moment, I was dumbfounded. I nodded with a freaked up look in my eyes and walked away.

Years later, when I suppose, I was in my college, when in the middle of a set of heavy barbell good mornings, one of my good friends approached me with a quip:

"That's really cool bro. But think about me when I sit for prolonged hours during the night attending calls with customers across the continents. It leaves you with very less in the name of courage and capacity to lift something heavier than I do in the gym. Work robs you of your energy. You will face it when you start working a full day job, brother."

And then, very recently, there was this very charming lady who during an after training chat with me over a cup of coffee said something to the effect of:

"well, you got to live my life buddy. I'm a mom of a four year old, a wife and an employee working a full day shift in an MNC environment. It's really hard work. You may not understand now. It's easy to preach training when you aren't any of the above. Life's tough!'

These are some of the frequent rants I get to hear when I ask people about what's keeping them from reaching out to a gym and get enrolled. Or, start a home based exercise program.

At the time when I had these conversations, I took them by the word and believed that there seriously is a lot in life that is yet to come, and that with time, my training dedication shall falter.

However, as I have grown, I have found most of these conditions of life to come true for me. I have aged(the way any biological organism would). I have moved on to work a really occupying job as an IT consultant with a small team, which means most of the 24 hours I have in a work day are expected to be working at the desk(or pretending to :) ). And of course, the responsibilities surrounding a grown up seemingly never fade. I am not far away from becoming a man of family too, so the rigors have started building up.

Am I thus a slower, weaker or more inefficient lifter/weight trainee now as compared to the good old days, as I was told? Not by any chance.

As I keep seeing my weekly lifting volume increasing(not necessarily the duration of my workouts, but the amount of work done), lifting technique improving, and better results generating, I can posit the fact that training quality for me has only gone up in spite of added challenges from life.

Age does make you smarter and the kind of physical exercise strategy you use also tends to reflect it. If you do spend your time reading, gathering information and implementing it in your training, connecting with brighter minds, attending workshops, analyzing training logs and journals, there is always a high probability that even after the physiological barriers which age can put upon you, you may keep progressing in one form or another in the weigh room or the track or field.

Of course, we may somehow reach a spot in our age where we may no longer be able to outperform our younger and much carefree self. But that is is lifting more weight is the only performance marker you measure. There are many more metrics of training progress, such as cardiovascular output, body composition, mood, endocrinological health, digestive health, appetite, libido, sports and athletic performance etc. The list is really big to not keep progressing on any one of them.

This equally applies to the ladies among the audience. Considering 20 minutes about 4 days per week needed for a progressive weight training based workout program is needed to reach a body composition improvement and strength goal it's not something which can't be fit into even a busy, working mother's routine. Women, in several social set ups play a variety of roles on a daily basis. With the growing demographic of working class women, the expectations from them have risen from being only a wife or a mother to a high performing employee in the office.

However, the decision to consciously make improvements in one's appearance or health is only as big as making any other life decision.Going over to a gym on your way to office to inquire an yearly membership is as cumbersome as visiting the dentist to make sure your jawline is not losing its classic boy-winning shine. Not missing your morning ten minutes of walk/pilates/bodyweight training session is almost as much of a trouble as not missing the latest episode of the latest season of your TV Serial. And lifting weights is only a tinge more uncomfortable than carrying grocery bags or your one and a half year old toddler on the road. You see, there ARE pain issues here, but most are psychological/emotional than logical/physiological.

This does not at all mean that people who are growing old do not face the physiological consequences which are not in their hands. I personally know a lot of ladies in their late forties and early fifties who are suffering with osteo arthritis and have experienced a setback in their fitness plans. I even know of people working in a corporate environment who are so much consumed by their work ethic and highly occupying work that I myself feel incapicatated to advise them on managing time for fitness.

Cases like these abound. But what this rant is particularly aiming to say is that the expectations from us in terms of time and efforts for transforming the way we look and feel may be much lesser than what most of us are led to believe by popular media.

One of the best things I have been doing to myself as I age, get busier and more depended upon, is to never let the thought of excuses cross my mind when getting better is a priority. Having a high quality health, physique and wellness makes us a more useful human in general.   Make sure you are not letting virtual reasons fall in the way of a stronger, better and more useful you.