I don’t consider myself retired, but my work as a writer allows me to take advantage of “retiree hours.” That means that I no longer have to go to the gym at the crack of dawn on my way to work. Now I can choose the times I work, play and exercise, and I find myself at the gym taking classes at civilized hours. My favorite class is yoga, though I benefit from the stretch and strength classes offered there as well.
People of all sizes, shapes and ages attend these classes. Yoga attracts 30-somethings as well as those in their 70s or 80s. The strength and stretch classes seem popular to those between 40 and 60…almost all are women.
I never thought about the “mix” until standing next to an older man in my strength and stretch class today and realized how few men participate in these classes. After seeing him struggle, I thought, “What a pity.” It’s a pity because the few men who do venture into these classes are usually over 60 and almost always struggle with balancing their very stiff bodies.
Although he looked strong, the man in today’s class had difficulty even lifting one leg. He couldn’t consider standing on the bosu, the fitness training device used in the class, let alone bounce on the crazy round half-balls that beautifully fit instructors challenge us to risk our lives on. I felt for him. He spent more time trying to catch his breath than moving.
My intent isn’t to pick on this man––he made the effort after all. Nor do I want to bash men––I really like men. I just wonder why they seem more interested in lifting weights or running on the treadmill like gazelles. There’s nothing wrong with treadmills or weights, they just don’t contribute much toward flexibility and balance. And those are crucial factors in maintaining a beautiful life.
Yes, life is better after 50. Let’s keep it like that into our 70s and 80s––for ourselves and the men in our lives. Even at 50 your guy could start to get stiff. You could encourage him to do yoga. After all, the room is dark, and no one can see if he can’t do the lotus position. If he’s spooked by the quiet in the room, strength and stretch classes are great for flexibility and balance too. Help him avoid the pain of the man in my class whose bones are frozen in an upright position.
Consider this a gift to you and your guy. It will help both of you do the things you want when you eventually retire.