Dan Short isn’t into fitness to buff up. He’s just trying to avoid what his late wife Maryrose, who was a nurse, told him. Namely, that inactive adults can lose up to 5 percent of their muscle mass each decade after 30.
“She helped me understand that the goal of fitness training as you get older wasn’t to look like a model or an athlete but simply to slow the aging process,” says Short, who just turned 72.
For 20 years, he worked out in the couple’s Fort Worth home gym, using the treadmill or lifting weights. Five years ago, he started going to Camp Gladiator. Here’s his fitness routine.
Typical week of workouts: I go to boot camp for 60-minute workouts three days a week, and supplement those with occasional yoga classes. Each camp has a different routine and each activity works a different set of muscles. Over the course of several camps, I get to work out every muscle group I have — and several I didn’t know I have.
If I had only 20 minutes to work out, I would: Practice yoga. If I had only 20 minutes, I would probably be feeling some stress. Yoga would be the perfect remedy.
What gets in the way of my workouts? Almost nothing! I learned years ago that it is much easier to maintain your commitment to an exercise program if you avoid starts and stops. Once you start making excuses, you’ll be able to find even more.
Proudest fitness moment: I am the oldest person at our Camp Gladiator boot camp, with most of the other participants being younger than my children. A fundamental principle during the camps is that everyone should work at their own pace, so I typically do fewer repetitions than the others (I call it a senior discount). A few months ago, a group of young campers came up and said I was an inspiration to them. It was really cool to have people who were so physically fit think that I could be an inspiration during an exercise program.
Fitness goals: I have no traditional fitness goals like lifting a certain amount of weight. My focus is on functional training, the ability to perform the normal activities of life more easily and without the risk of injury. My workout program has given me the confidence, strength and stamina to participate in a variety of challenging activities with my grandchildren. My goal is to still be able to do that 10 years from now.
Favorite healthy food: I love fresh fruit. There’s no better way to start the day than cereal with a generous serving of raspberries.
Favorite indulgence: Starbucks Café Mocha.
Three things you’ll always find in my refrigerator: Two I am proud of, one less so. I always have fruit, a fresh salad and a container of Graeter’s Chocolate Chip ice cream (which always justifies the feeling of guilt).
What I should eat more of: Fish. I love perfectly cooked fish but fish done less than perfectly always seems awful to me.
What I should probably cut back on: Unfortunately, Starbucks. When the baristas start making your favorite drink as soon as you get out of the car, you know you have a problem.
What I’d say to someone who wants to follow my routine: The key to success is finding a program that is fun, and for me that has been a group program with a diverse set of participants in terms of age and ability. In the right environment, you can find support, encouragement and friendship.
Add to that mix an instructor who bubbles over with enthusiasm and you will find yourself looking forward to days when you get to work out.
What my workout says about me: During most of my adult life, I enjoyed setting goals and took satisfaction in their achievement. After a few months at Camp Gladiator, I almost quit because I knew I could never compete with people half my age in terms of achieving meaningful goals.
Slowly, it dawned on me that the goals weren’t important; instead, it was the process that was important. Doing some physical activity was better than doing nothing. I now focus on doing the best I can during a workout, knowing that the outcome will take care of itself. As a result, in other aspects of my life I am now much more willing to let the future unfold as it will.
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