By Ali Johnson
The short answer is, yes. Yes, yes, and more yes. You’re not too old, you don’t have to be in super great shape, and you’re not going to look stupid, so stop making excuses. If anything, MORE people aged 50 and older should start trying CrossFit, because while staying physically active is important at any age, it greatly affects a person’s quality of life as they get older. Your physical fitness level could mean the difference between continuing to work or going on disability…the difference between being able to live alone or needing support….and for some, it actually could mean the difference between life and death. CrossFit is great because it has a focus on functional fitness. While I think it’s amazing that people are able to run marathons as they get older (or really, at any age), you don’t necessarily “need” that type of endurance in your 50s, 60s, 70s, and on. What you DO need to be able to do is lift a bag of groceries, or pick up your keys when you drop them, or crawl around on the floor with your grandkids. CrossFit can help you with that and more.
By definition, Crossfit is “constantly varied functional movements, performed at high intensity and infinitely scalable.” Crossfit is for everyone regardless of gender, race, and even more so, age. The vast majority of Crossfit athletes are not training for a big athletic event. They are training for life. They are training by doing movements that directly translate to their every day activities.
According to the Center for Disease Control, low levels of inactivity contribute to heart disease, type 2 diabetes, some types of cancers, and obesity. Low levels of activity is a complex public health crisis, and yet, it has the easiest solution. Move your body. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans states that some benefits of physical activity include; improved sleep, increased ability to perform everyday activities, improved cognitive ability and a reduced risk of dementia, and improved bone and musculoskeletal health. Clearly, physical activity is important.
So why choose CrossFit over another style of exercise?
CrossFit is fun.
It’s as simple as that. CrossFit’s daily WOD rotations mean you’ll be challenged with a new and different workout daily. It completely takes the mundane out of your gym hour and replaces it with engaging movements. Never dread a leg day again.
You’ll gain functional strength.
As you age, you don’t have to completely change your lifestyle. Many people just want to continue to do daily life independently and without restrictions as they get older. CrossFit is an excellent way to build your body and ensure that you can still pick up the piece of paper on the floor, reach for the coffee cup on the high shelf, and pick up your grandchildren. CrossFit is about functional fitness and ensuring your ability to function in daily life with greater ease and comfort.
You can focus on yourself.
Generally speaking, people 50 plus have been focusing on others for quite some time. Life simply has a way of pulling you in multiple directions- mentality, emotionally, and physically. CrossFit almost always forces you to focus on yourself exclusively. You are only concerned with your performance, your strength, your breath. No one else. Just you and what is immediately and directly in front of you. It’s not about your parent’s current health, your child’s social life, or your partner’s work life. It’s just you, and it’s healthy to shift the focus towards yourself for a period of time every week.
You can expand your circle.
The CrossFit box is a place filled with many different types of people and personalities. As we move about life, we often circle our wagons and only socialize with a small and familiar circle. CrossFit will blast that circle wide open. The box is a melting pot of your local community. You’re able to meet and interact with people you may never have had the opportunity to interact with elsewhere.
You get your endorphins flowing.
There are few things in life that are more endorphin-releasing than exercise. Endorphins are nature’s free gift to us. Aging brings about many biochemical changes that often affect the way our central nervous system takes in and releases those feel-good chemicals, and exercise is a great way to balance out your hormones and prevent yourself from slipping into a depression.
Hopefully we’ve convinced you to give CrossFit a shot. If that’s the case, then here’s your recipe for success!
We recommend the following steps as you begin your CrossFit journey:
1. Consult one of our CrossFit-trained coaches to discuss your goals, your current health, and any limitations that may exist. Schedule a free intro session here. It’s also never a bad idea to consult your doctor before beginning a new exercise routine.
2. Check your ego at the door. CrossFit is 100% scale-able. No CrossFit beginner walks into the Box and is automatically an elite athlete. Focus more on your own progression of skills and not how much weight the guy next to you is moving. Who cares? CrossFit is all about you, your goals, and your journey to health and functional fitness.
3. Be patient. Results do not, and will not, happen overnight. It takes time to master skills.
4. Stay in tune with your body. Feeling sore is normal, and you may even learn to love the soreness over time. It means you’re progressing and your body is changing for the better. However, keep in mind that there is a difference between soreness and pain. Pain, especially pain that is prolonged over a period of time, means something isn’t quite right. Listen to your body and scale, or take a break when you need it. Also, don’t skip the warm up or the recovery! Your body needs that time to process and decompress from the stress you’re putting it through.
Age is just a number- don’t let it hold you back. Embrace this stage of life, and honor your body by treating it well. The next 50 could be the best years of your life!