Why Age is No Excuse: My Mom, a CrossFit Grandma
Guest Post by Amanda Walker
My Own CrossFit Beginnings
I found CrossFit at the ripe age of 30. I was 6-weeks postpartum and desperate for a fitness change to get back into shape after two kids and the chaos that I had now called motherhood. I was 100% intimidated, 100% nervous and 100% addicted the moment I started. I have passionately loved the sport for five years now; both as an athlete and coach.
My Mom, a CrossFitter?
My mom is the most amazing woman I’ve ever known. She has worked since she was 14 years old, has had a successful career and somehow managed to never miss any activity I was in. She put every ounce of her soul into raising me. She was a superwoman and I didn’t quite grasp that relevance until I had my own kids. Like most women her age, she gave herself to being a mom, and as a result somewhat lost sight of her own goals, her own health and her mojo. When my mom came to me over two years ago and said “I think I want to try CrossFit with you,” I said “Huh? Really?” I’ll be honest I had a major internal struggle. She was almost 60 and had not been an athlete her whole life…like really at all. (Although she will tell you that one semester of college cheerleading qualifies.) I was scared for her, CrossFit isn’t easy. It is high-intensity, gut-checking and both internally and externally competitive. I didn’t know if she had it in her. To be 100% honest… I share all aspects of my life with her and this is the one place I go to escape, to push myself, to challenge myself and to feel on top of the world for a brief moment in time. I was nervous to let her into this CrossFit “cult” I belonged to. That moment of hesitation quickly faded when I realized she needed all of those things too. Needless to say, she’s never looked back.
The CrossFit Open
My mom’s love for CrossFit grew wildly. She was showing up almost every day to complete the same workout surrounded by 20-and 30-somethings with rock-solid abs and bulging biceps. I didn’t really think much about her success at her first workout or the ones the directly followed. Was I a horrible daughter for that? Of course, I was proud and inspired by her courage but I never really paused to think about the greater significance of my Mom, the “CrossFitter.” I really started to reflect on what being a “CrossFitter” truly meant to her months later, during this year’s CrossFit Open. That’s right after CrossFitting for just over a year and at 60 years old she decided to give the Open a go. She had no expectations, little CrossFit experience and really no clue. What she did have…was an attitude that she COULD participate 110%. That turned out to be of more value than any experience needed.
16.5 Was More than Burpees and Thrusters
I had the privilege of judging her for 16.5…the dreaded thruster and burpees over the bar combo (both her nemesis). I rolled out of bed early to come cheer her on, sleepy faced and completely unaware of the emotions that would soon take me over. The timer counted down and she began. We had a strategy for her survival and I guided her through it. Small sets, slow and steady. She struggled, a WOD face in full effect until every.single.rep was done. My body shivered with the realization that this moment was so much more than any workout would ever be. It was about her digging deep, going to a place she had little experience with, to prove that at almost 61 years old…she could. It was about not allowing her age in life to stop her from doing things she never had. It was a turning point for me as a spectator but more importantly, as her daughter. Tears rolled down my face as she completed the last few reps because I was proud. She was the last to finish and honestly, we were engaged in our moment together so deeply that we had no idea. For a few minutes of time, we switched rolls, and I fully embraced being the proud “Mom.”
Never too Old to Compete
As if just being a “CrossFitter” wasn’t enough, she saw an opportunity to compete for the first time and took it. She joined forces with another CrossFit Grandma and in a gym filled with experienced female CrossFitters; the two of them stole the show. They hit personal records that weren’t just “weight” based…they hit life records. It didn’t matter how much weight was on that bar, they were satisfying deep-rooted goals that most of us don’t even understand yet. With every single lift the crowd roared and their eyes filled with shock and a clear passion for more. It was as if they were the leaders in the CrossFit Games and the rest of us just couldn’t get enough. It was a moment too hard to truly capture into words that we will all remember forever.
I get “game gut” showing up to workouts–you know the kind of nervous belly that makes you feel you aren’t sure if you have to puke or… (well, you know). The amount of courage it continually takes her to show up is only magnified. And you know what? She does it almost everyday…at 5:30 in the morning. She is rarely the fastest or lifts the heaviest and it doesn’t bother her in the slightest. She is there for other reasons; ones that far exceed either of the aforementioned ones. She is there to prove to herself she can. She is there to be able to wrestle, swim and get on the floor with my kids. She is there to inspire the other 50+ men and women, and for that matter, all of us. She is a testament to not allowing age to ever be an excuse. If you ask her, she will tell you that the time she makes for this will give her so much time for life.
Why you are Missing Out
My mom’s story alone supports the amazing life changes being active can bring. Numerous studies done about activity in adults only further the cause. Aside from the mental benefits of being active, research continually supports the need for activity in adults, especially those over the age of 50. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, the benefits of regular strength training increase cardiovascular fitness, reduce depression, increase bone density and lower insulin resistance (1). Second to smoking, a lack of fitness is linked to the main reason for early cause of death. (2) In addition, the benefits of progressive resistance training are so powerful that research suggests they extend beyond the basic improvement of strength and cardiovascular health, but actually shift the genetic makeup of muscle (3).
It’s a Cycle
Not only did CrossFitting make her aware of her fitness it caused her to think about her eating habits too. She wants to feel good every time she gets into the gym and wants to be able to recover fast. For the first time in her life, she thinks about what she is putting inside her body. She loves the feeling of an awesome workout and knows the bigger importance of fueling her body at her age for more. She still works a full time job, is a mom, is a grandma and has to deal with menopause (AAAhhhhh!!!!) and when all of those aspects of life are supported by good nutrition and fitness, they all are richer because of it.
It’s a revelation, a movement, and a challenge to our ingrained aging perspective that we are too old at some point to pursue a goal. I wrote this post because I know so many women, in their middle ages and beyond, think that they are too old to invest in themselves. I am here to tell you that I’ve never seen my mom walk around with more confidence than she has now. You get one chance to live your life the way you want it, every moment, until the end. It is never too late to pursue your health-in training, in nutrition, and in mindset. Let my Mom, and the many other “CrossFit Grandmas”, inspire you to believe in yourself, reestablish your worth and achieve goals you never even knew you had. Join their movement…you won’t regret it!
Amanda is a CrossFit Incendia Trainer, Nutrition Coach, Nutrition Blogger and Mom. She has helped clients shed thousands of pounds, hit major PRs and regain control of their nutrition with a focus on REAL food. Visit her blog for free nutrition tips, awesome product reviews and to download a free REAL food cheat sheet. www.awalkmyway.com