By Alec Raboin
Why is being active virtually impossible for some, hard for others, and even sometimes challenging for people like me? Sometimes the alarm goes off in the morning and I sit there and think to myself “I could just roll over and pretend like the alarm never made a sound”. I’m human, and I’m not afraid to admit that sometimes it just sucks to do. But you have to.
Recently, I got the pleasure of teaching a class to a group of individuals we call “The Silver Sneakers”.
I didn’t get exact ages, but they are an elderly bunch and now a new spark in my flame. Seeing the twelve I did that day, it almost mimicked a classroom growing up; all different kinds of souls and personalities that came in with the same objective, get shit done and have fun doing it. But this wasn’t a high school classroom, it was an exercise class for elders. A room filled with positivity, energy, comradery, and desire. I’m not going to hold back. I think it’s fair to say, typically as we get older the majority of us get negative, lethargic, and just flat grumpy. These folks have managed to fight that off, despite all the potential excuses they could have. I was lucky enough to get to talk to a few after the session, and I believe there is just a lot we can learn from all of our Silver Sneakers.
An older person’s mind could potentially be littered with excuses. For example, the body betrays you as you get older, I think it’s okay to say that’s just common knowledge. Some of the Sneakers have carpal tunnel syndrome, damaged shoulders, different illnesses, etc. But damn it, they are there week in and week out. A lot of people eventually just throw in the towel and let themselves go, because they ask the deadliest questions “What’s the point of this?” or “Why waste the time?”. That’s so easy to do when you hit a certain age, I’m sure. Hell, I see it with eighteen to twenty-two-year-old college kids that just stop completely after high school and put on the infamous freshman fifteen. I just think “man, you got about fifty to sixty years left of this life and your tapping out on yourself now?”. Think about how easy it is to say F exercise when your seventy-three and have had a knee replacement, hip surgery, and currently plagued with arthritis. But damn it, THEY STILL COME! What’s our excuses again?
After the class, I pulled aside three lovely ladies and just had a conversation with them. I flirted a little bit (had to, sorry) and got them talking about why they come to the class. I predicted they would say they enjoy the social time, and the relationships they have built; which they in fact, did say. But to be honest, I did not expect the first words out of one of the ladies were “remaining active”. I realize that sounds silly that I didn’t expect that, but I just figured they enjoyed the friendships and exercise was just something they had to do. No, not them. They understand that if they want to remain productive, they must take care of themselves; despite all the potential excuses they could make, like an aged body. So again, I ask, what’s our excuse?
This story, or whatever you want to call it, deserves to be shared. Why? Because we can learn so much from our Silver Sneakers. First off, it’s never too late. If you feel like life is a constant uphill battle (which it is no matter what you do, but there are ways to make the hill smaller), try taking care of your body and your mind, work from the inside out. Our Sneakers have mastered this concept in my opinion because they could just easily sideline themselves and no one would say a thing. They understand that if they want to be productive quilters (some of them quilt, I talked to them. This isn’t some harsh stereotype I would throw out there for people to say “is he assuming all old people quilt? How rude!”), if they want to be able to play with their grandchildren and be a valuable part of their lives, they must start with themselves so they can continue to have positive experiences.
Let this be a little inspiration to us all. When that alarm that you set the night before thinking “Man, I’m gonna do this!” goes off, and you contemplate that extra hour of sleep even though you got a smooth eight already, remember The Silver Sneakers, and ask yourself “If they can, why can’t I?”.
 People like me meaning a marathoner and a guy that goes to the gym five times a week. It’s crazy I know but I just love it.
Photo Credit: Alec Raboin