Changing Aging Blog

CrossFit: Intergenerational fitness at its best
Date: Jul 19th, 2010 9:36am

Author:

Eric Schubert

This will change your life. Yeah, who hasn’t heard that before about a fitness regimen? But that’s exactly what older adult participants in CrossFit claim. “I can keep up with people half my age and I like that,” exclaims Theresia Sabayan, a 59 year old grandmother from British Columbia. “I love it and plan on doing CrossFit forever. It's always interesting, always workable. I don't have to spend hours at the gym with very little results. It's quick, it works.”

What is CrossFit? Participants don’t use StairMasters or weight machines. Instead they do brief, high-intensity workouts that mix simple gymnastics, track and field skills and bodybuilding primarily using their own body weight. The program stresses functional fitness, meaning you'll actually be able to do more with your life. Initially, devotees were paramilitary groups such as firefighters & police officers. It’s quickly spreading to other demographics, including the “silvers”. A quick peek at a typical CF workout is intimidating, even for a 20-something. Yet, advocates are quick to point out the scalability of movements that can be performed by anyone, of any age and condition. Dan Hope, a 67 year-old from Athens, Georgia says: “One of the great things about CrossFit is that anyone can participate. It may take some of us well beyond our prime to admit we are no longer able to function at the levels we enjoyed in our youth, but scaling makes it possible to stay active.” Who knew sweat could be an intergenerational, bonding experience? “I am 64 in September and working out along side a fellow who wants to be a Navy Seal”, states Ellen Clifford of Minneapolis. “Now, how awesome is that?!”

Steve Shaughessy, of Charlotte, North Carolina who recently turned 60, has been practicing for 18 months. He concedes it’s hard work, “but the benefits are well worth it. I’ve lost 30 lbs., improved my strength, have way less pain in my arthritic knee, feel younger and have more energy”. Ellen, who is Steve’s sister, has also seen positive changes in her life such as weight loss, increased confidence, improved strength and energy. “I sleep better and just seem to have more enthusiasm for life in general. My balance has also improved and that’s a big thing when you get older”.

Steve Shaughessy   Ellen Clifford

Steve has recruited his wife, high-school & college aged friends as well as folks his own age. “There is great camaraderie with other CrossFit members.” Community is a component that enthusiasts point to as a factor that keeps them coming back for more. “Crossfitters are very special people whether they are young or old – they all encourage each other. There is no discrimination,” Ellen continues. “The esprit de corps among CrossFitters is something incredible. So not only are the physical aspects improving your life but you feel like you have an entire team supporting your efforts. I don’t ever want to stop”.   ~Helen Rickman

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