Teaching An Old Dog New Tricks

I am so going to get in trouble for that title! – this is another post about my mom.

Some of you may remember my mom; I mention her pretty often. She’s my star client. I made her do pushups, so I show her off whenever I can.

When I first did her fitness assessment, mom was not able to push herself up off the floor once in the pushup test. Aside from the pushup test, she was in good shape. I asked her what would happen if she fell sometime when dad wasn’t around. Sure, she could probably roll to her side and manage to get up, but she understood my point.

She began in earnest to work on her upper body strength, especially pushups. She began doing wall pushups, moving her feet further from the wall as she gained strength. As her strength increased, she did pushups against the kitchen counter, and then moved on to modified pushups on the floor. I thought she would be satisfied with that, but she was on a roll, she was determined. Finally, she started doing full pushups. At first, she could only do 1 or 2. But she kept working on it until she could do 10 full pushups (in great form, I might add).

Now, this didn’t happen overnight, or even over a couple of months. This was a slowly progressive exercise plan. It took her about a year and a half to go from just a few wall pushups to 10 full pushups.

Mom’s new idea is that she wants to start running, maybe even run a race (I’m thinking the Komen Race for the Cure would be good). We worked out a plan. She’s beginning with adding short running segments into her walk, and more strengthening exercises. As she gets comfortable and builds strength, she’ll gradually lengthen the running segments.

Mom is 72. She wasn’t some super athlete. She’s just realized that she feels better when she exercises, and if she slacks off for too many days she feels worse. And, it seems, she like having a goal.

What’s key about mom’s progress is that she starts at an appropriate level, and makes gradual progress. She knows it’s not going to happen quickly, and she is diligent.

So in response to people, decades younger, who ask if they can really expect to make fitness gains at their age, I say “Hey man, check out my mom!”


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