This morning I watched a 64 year old man deadlift 425 pounds. It was a PR for Mike.
I found watching him to be a really uplifting reminder of the power and ability of the human body and spirit. Sixty four years old is not an age that most people usually associate with double bodyweight deadlifts, or even deadlifts at all. As one ages, much earlier than 64, physical capacity slows down and it is easy to fall into a trap of apathy or acceptance. And it is even easier for society to fall into the same trap with thought to older people. The trap of accepting age’s physical decline or, worse still, not caring or believing that nothing can be done. For the vast majority, personal belief mimics societal belief.
Seeing is believing. Besides Mike’s deadlift, I have recently seen a 66 year old woman back squat her bodyweight of 135 pounds well below parallel, a testament to mobility and coordination as much as strength, a 55 year old woman back squat 145 pounds 20 times in 53 seconds, and a 70 year old woman deadlift 145 pounds. These are just a few examples, and are in addition to watching 2011 Games 60+ Runner Up Chris K routinely best people literally one third his age in 12 minute WODs involving chest-2-bar pullups, running, and squat cleans.
Forget Barnum and Bailey, this is literally the greatest show on Earth. Seven million people is the current population census and, in many countries including the US, the older age demographic is huge. The cost of caring for this population is going to be staggering, both individually and globally, not to mention the ancillary health problems that dependency upon pharmaceutical drugs brings. One of the biggest barriers against preventative health care is the perception that people of this age cannot or should not engage in the same kind of physical fitness as the younger population.
CrossFit, as it has with women, is completely debunking that myth. Certainly workouts and programming needs to be scaled with the older demographic in mind, but that is no different than scaling for anyone–injured, overweight, handicapped, etc. Just as with every other age group, there will be rockstars and people who have a hard time getting off the couch, but the necessity of smart weight training and conditioning for older people is undeniable. As are its benefits. For other people, it is a hugely inspirational experience to realize that there is still physical potential when older. We are so conditioned to believe in the young and beautiful, like the ancient Greek youth glorying in their perfection, that we lose sight of the physical ability of our elders.
The first steps, hopefully those first steps will be just the rumble that portents an avalanche, are being taken by the people above. Talk is cheap, but seeing is believing. Great work, guys.