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11

A Focus On Gratitude Can Improve Your Health

With the Thanksgiving frenzy just past, I decided to take a quiet, post-holiday moment to contemplate what I’m thankful for. I want to stay healthy, even through stressful, uncertain times, and know that a focus on gratitude can help improve my health.

Rainbow over Breisach

Rainbow over the German town of Breisach, taken from the hilltop church above the town.

While contemplating the many things for which I’m grateful, I got a brain flash (like a brain fart, but good), and realized that the most obvious answer is sometimes hidden in plain sight because it’s so normal, standard and everyday. Even you, dear readers, see the “thing” for which I’m especially grateful for every time you come to our site. Have you guessed yet? It’s my co-blogger, aka my sister Kymberly.

Rainy day in Heidelberg

Visiting Heidelberg Castle during our AmaWaterways cruise. Kymberly had the most colorful umbrella.

I challenge you to improve your health by showing gratitude for something in your life.… Click To Tweet

When people are mean to me, she’s got my back. When I want something, she wants it for me too. When I want to talk about my boys, including my hopes and worries, she lets me ramble on.

Griffin fountain in Basel

Don’t make her have to chew you up and spit you out! Griffin fountain in Basel, Switzerland.

She has taken on the huge task of managing our mom’s affairs as our mom ages; all without pay or thanks. On the contrary, sometimes she gets a lot of grief for doing what’s best for our mom.

open air market in Strasbourg

Kymberly bought a few old maps at this open air market in Strasbourg, France. Shop, shop, shop.

She has kept herself up to date on research that’s relevant to active aging, and she shares that information in her classes, seminars, conferences, and articles (including this blog). Even when the places she works for take her for granted and consistently fail to recognize her contributions, she keeps doing her best.

We argue a lot (well, a lot less than we used to), yet any of you with siblings know that’s how it works. Yet I know 100% that I can trust her. Not everyone can trust a sibling the way I can trust mine, so it’s worth a shout out to her. And you know what she does behind my back? She talks me up. She lets people know she’s proud of me.

She’s a warrior, and she uses that trait to protect my back (or whatever metaphor you prefer).

church statue, Hamburg

This is a true-to-life photo of Kymberly the last time someone tried to mess with me. Just a friendly warning.

And she’s fun. We went on an AmaWaterways cruise together in October, and had a blast. We hiked, biked, ate, made friends, laughed, climbed hills, descended stairs (castles have a LOT of those), stood in the rain, and even shared a cabin and got along famously (except for one argument about her snoring – shhhh).

Bike riding in Köln

Taking a water break during our 11-mile bike ride in Köln (which is free to all AmaWaterways cruise passengers).

I challenge you to improve your health by showing gratitude for something in your life that’s so obvious you missed it. Sunsets, your dog, a car that works, the best parking spot in your complex, food security, a high credit score… you get the picture.

AmaPrima double cabin

We shared this cabin for our 8-day cruise on the AmaPrima with AmaWaterways.

And now that I’ve written this post, I hope my sis doesn’t expect me to suck up to her. Though I do still hold out hope that she’ll suck up to me by giving me her red KitchenAid mixer.

Text and photos by Alexandra Williams, MA

If you want more travel pictures, follow my Instagram account. If you like beach and dog photos, subscribe to my sister’s. Be daring – follow both.

4

Bike Riding in Cologne Along the Rhein River

The Romans probably settled in Cologne (Köln in German) in 50 BC because they’d heard about the fantastic bike riding views along the Rhein River. Or because of its natural harbor. Either way.

Hohenzollern Bridge, CologneOne of the highlights of our October AmaWaterways cruise was the 11-mile, 2 1/2 hour guided bike ride along both the west and east sides of the river. We had two fluent English-speaking guides who took about 8 of us on an easily-managed bike adventure (everyone else was either part of the walking or beer tasting tour). We started our ride along the Rheingarten, a riverside park where pedestrians and bicyclists were out in force on a sunny (yet cold) weekend day. At first, we were riding fairly quickly, but when I said I wanted to stop for more photos, the guides were quite amenable. This I appreciated, or I would have gotten cranky.

We pedaled past the Chocolate Museum, which my sister noticed. Yes, we went back later to learn the history of chocolate, though we didn’t stop in the museum café to eat any of their 9,866 chocolate items. Um, I have no idea of the exact number, but I sure saw lots of options.

Cologne castle towerCologne is Germany’s fourth largest city, with over 1 million people, 45,000 of whom are university students. One fact I really liked was discovering that 18% of the inhabitants come from over 180 nations. Hmmm, probably easy to find a correlation between that and the reputation Cologne has for being a major cultural center.

You can take a bike tour of Cologne, Germany as part of a Rhein River cruise w/ @AmaWaterways?… Click To Tweet

crane buildings, CologneThough I prefer old buildings (castles are my thing, perhaps related to my Medieval Studies BA), I found the three “cranes” interesting. Two of them are office buildings, while the one with the balconies is apartments. Who wouldn’t want riverfront living, even if it’s shaped like a giant piece of machinery, eh?

Our guides stopped for a while on the Rodenkirchener Bridge so we could take pictures and drink water. When you’re on a bike, it feels like the vista is really expansive. We could see barges and pleasure boats going north and south beneath us. When we were onboard our ship, the Ama Prima, it always felt like we were moving at a leisurely pace, yet when standing on a bridge above the ships, they appeared to be speeding along.

locks of love, CologneOn the east side, away from the main part of the city, we felt like we were in the woods for a bit, as we rode by a fairly extensive campground. It’s probably jam-packed in summer, though we saw just a few campers in October. Perfect time to travel if you own a jacket and like to go when the city is not so crowded. From the east side, with its tennis and soccer (call it football if you want to sound truly cosmopolitan) fields, we had unimpeded views of St. Martin’s Church, the Cathedral, the Innenstadt, and Hohenzollern Bridge, which is where the Locks of Love are, and which leads to the Dom Platz.

St. Martin's, CologneAfter we crossed the bridge, our guides asked if we could figure out why security guards were preventing people from walking on the plaza. We had no idea. As it turns out, the Cologne Philharmonic is just below the plaza, and when they are performing, they keep people off the plaza to prevent extraneous sounds. So the floor is also the roof.

Cologne Cathedral interiorNear the end of the ride we stopped to admire the Cathedral. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is visible from fairly high up, which presented some issues during World War II. According to our guides, the Allies respected the history and cultural significance of it, so they intentionally avoided bombing it to ruins. Another story is that the pilots left it (for the most part) intact because it was an easy landmark for bombers to use to calculate their various targets. As well, the guides said that church representatives removed all the glass from the windows, which lessened the destruction from the bombs. On a cheerier note, the Cathedral was the tallest building in the world until the Eiffel Tower came along in 1887.

Bike riding, CologneThriller dance on Ama PrimaWe got back to the Ama Prima just in time to change for dinner (and an impromptu performance of “Thriller” by moi for all the passengers). No muscle soreness after 11 miles, either. Or should I say 18 kilometers, as that sounds even more impressive?!

 

 

 

 

 

Alexandra Williams, MA

photos by me

Have you read our post about all the castles and riesling in Rüdesheim yet? Better yet, have you subscribed to us?

 

4

Rüdesheim with AmaWaterways: Riesling, Castles and a Musical Cabinet Museum

Even if you cannot pronounce “Rüdesheim,” you’ll want to visit this picturesque German town that sits at the south end of the Rhein Gorge, a 41-mile section of the river that has the world’s greatest concentration of castles. A town of 7,000 people, all of whom apparently grow wine grapes, Rüdesheim’s history dates back to Roman times, as evidenced by some of the ruins in town.

Rudesheim on the Rhine

The medieval town of Rüdesheim on the Rhein

As part of our Rhein River cruise with AmaWaterways, we had an evening tour of Siegfried’s Mechanical Music Cabinet Museum (itself situated in the remains of the 12th century Brömserburg castle), followed by a 3-hour morning hike through family-owned vineyards that produce Riesling so popular it can command over 1,000 Euros per bottle.

Viola music instrument

These cabinets opened up and the violins began to play of their own accord. No other instrument in the museum was similar to this one.

One thing that is appealing about going on a river cruise with AmaWaterways is that you get loads of activity choices, all geared toward a variety of fitness levels and personal interests. When we docked in Rüdesheim after dinner, we had a choice of touring the music museum (which we discovered means the instruments are all self-playing) or relaxing in a cafe that serves Rüdesheimer coffee, known for its cream and brandy. AmaWaterways included a short sightseeing train ride from the ship into town, and if it’s raining, as it was when we arrived, you’ll be glad to hop aboard. In fine weather, it’s a short 10-minute walk.

Rüdesheim w/ @AmaWaterways: wine, castles and a musical cabinet museum Click To Tweet
Clown musical instrument in Rudesheim

One of my favorite instruments at the Mechanical Musical Instruments Museum

doll carousel music box, Rudesheim

This is a very small doll carousel music box at Siegfried’s Museum in Rüdesheim

door and wall at Siegfried's, Rudesheim

A well-preserved, colorful door and wall in the museum, built in 1542.

Arabian musical instrument, Rudesheim

Housed in the cellar, this wonderful floor-to-celing music box still works. All tours are guided, as the tour guide plays these instruments for guests.

Siegfried's Mechanical Musical Kabinet

Siegfried’s Mechanisches Musikkabinett on a rainy night in Rüdesheim

In the morning, the rain was no longer pouring, though it was still cloudy, so we stuck with our plan to hike to the ruins of Ehrenfels Castle via the vineyards. During the hike, we passed under the gondolas that took most of the group to the top of the hill to view the town and river. On our way back to our ship, the Ama Prima, we were passed by the people who took the third option – a 13-mile bike ride. One advantage (of many) of the hike is that the vintners keep a small fridge stocked with free wine along the hiking trail. So thoughtful. If it’s sunny, bring water and sunblock, as there’s little shade. We hiked in cloudy weather, and it was perfect, as we stayed warm without getting hot. Our tour guide was a retired civil engineer who owns a potato farm in Wiesbaden. Not only was his English fluent (as are all the local guides), he knew the history of all the families who owned the vines. He also admitted to being a bit of a snob who only buys Rüdesheim Riesling, not the Riesling made on the Bingen side of the river.

hills of vineyards in Rudesheim

Yup, we hiked up hill and over dale, through the vineyards of Rüdesheim.

grapes for Riesling

Riesling grapes in Rüdesheim

Riesling producers in Rudesheim

One of the families that owns wine grapes in Rüdesheim. Sadly, the bottle was empty.

bird in vineyards

This lovely bird was supervising us as we hiked through the vineyards. If you know what type of bird (falcon?) it is, please let me know.

Ehrenfels castle, Rudesheim

The ruins of Ehrenfels Castle, Rüdesheim, on a rainy day

Part of what made the meals served on the Ama Prima extra special is that the meal is based on the local specialties. So besides wine, those of us who huddled under blankets up on the sun deck (it was cold and rainy) to get pictures of the many castles we passed after leaving Rüdesheim were offered some of the Rüdesheim coffee. Remember how it has brandy? That helped keep me warm enough to stay up top to get pictures of every single castle we passed as we cruised downstream along the UNESCO World Heritage designated gorge. Those pictures will be in an upcoming post, so be sure to subscribe if you haven’t already.

We were guests of AmaWaterways on the 8-day “Enchanting Rhine” cruise. They made no requirements of us, except to enjoy ourselves, which we did, oh so much.

 

You CAN Go Home Again

Sis and I recently went back to our hometown for our 40th high school reunion. And what did we discover?! That you can go home again.

Manhattan Beach Pier

The Manhattan Beach Pier looks about the same as it did in 1976, except for the plaques honoring famous local volleyball players.

Well, sort of. We probably couldn’t afford to buy back into Hermosa Beach real estate prices, but we could definitely enjoy living there and rekindling many of our high school friendships.

Would you ever return to your hometown for a visit? #FitFluential #MidlifeBlvd Click To Tweet
Film lights in Hermosa Beach

A lot of film people live in Hermosa, so it’s no surprise to see movie lighting on the Strand.

Whether it’s a high school reunion or something else that draws you back to your hometown, I definitely recommend it if you have positive memories of the place, especially after 40 years. Prior to going to the evening reunion, we wandered around town a bit, taking a few pictures, and reminiscing about our past. Mostly I think we bored my niece with our “that’s where our dentist used to be,” and “this is the hill where I learned to skateboard” kind of narrative.

Mira Costa cookies

Mira Costa High School Mustangs – in cookie form at the 40th reunion.

sailboat off the Hermosa Beach pier

Sailboats on a warm day in Hermosa Beach, taken from the end of the pier.

In any case, enjoy these pictures from our stroll down Hermosa Beach Memory Lane. And let us know a memory or two from your high school days.

View to the north from the pier

View to the north of the Hermosa Beach Pier on a warm weekend day.

 

helicopter flying over lifeguard tower at the beach

22nd Street Beach is the beach where we hung out when we were kids.

Alexandra Williams, MA

Loving Kindness Meditation: Easy and Accessible

Ranch statues loving kindness meditationEasily Meditated 

Have you heard of loving kindness meditation? It’s the simple practice of directing good thoughts and wishes to others. (Except that one guy who is so irritating especially when he …..  Ooops, got distracted. Must refocus and become more heavily meditated.) When practicing loving kindness meditation, you also envision what you want to bring into your own life.

At the recent IDEA World Fitness Convention, I had the privilege of attending a session “Heavily Meditated and Highly Motivated” with long time fitness pro and award winning presenter, Petra Kolber. Petra offered compelling reasons to start meditating. Even if you are like me – energetic, wiggly, and on the move, mentally and physically — you can reap the benefits of meditation.

When your mind is full, try being mindful #activeaging #meditation Click To Tweet

Key Quotes from “Heavily Meditated and Highly Motivated”

Join me in a brief summary of highlights and quotes from Petra’s presentation. You may be inspired to start with just 3 minutes a day to gain happiness, reduce stress, and create more loving kindness in your life. (Great phone apps to begin with are listed in our post, Live Better with Meditation, Menopause, and Memory).

Breathe In Breathe Out and Hooooooolllddd It (Not Really)

The longest distance we’ll ever travel is from our head to our heart #meditation #activeaging Click To Tweet

At its simplest, most accessible level, meditation is about paying attention to your breath. As Petra proffered, “the longest distance we’ll ever travel is from our head to our heart.” And “breathing” she says, “is the best, fastest way to connect the brain and body.” For a methodology on mindful breathing, try our suggestions in Breathe Life Into Yourself.

Mindful breathing is the best, fastest way to connect the brain and body #activeaging #meditation Click To Tweet

People crave two things, according to Petra:

1) to be seen and heard

2) to connect. (She may be onto something. I know I often tell my husband to “please just listen. You don’t have to DO anything else. You can even pretend to listen and I’ll feel loved.”)

to do list Loving Kindness Meditation

Are we Human Beings or Human Doings?

Two of the benefits of meditation include connecting more compassionately to others AND to yourself. Mindfulness, which is another definition for meditation is about making friends with our body, mind, and self.  “Mindfulness is also about human beings, not human doings,” Petra reminds us. Being in the present is key to meditating. Being mindful puts the attention on the senses – how does our breath feel? Sound? The senses can happen only in the present moment. Therefore any time spent focusing on the senses will bring us to a meditative moment.

Go with Tend and Befriend My Friends, not Fight or Flight

tall poppies at Holman Ranch Loving Kindness Meditation

The hills are alive with the sound of breathing

When under stress, we can shift from the Fight or Flight syndrome to “Tend and Befriend” just by paying attention to our breathing and calming it.  When your mind is full, try being mindful. (Saaay, that’s a quote I made up just now!)  Whether sitting calmly with eyes closed or walking at a comfortable pace (need I say, eyes open), put attention to your breathing. Feel your breath enter and exit your body. Note the rhythm and temperature of your breath. Create space within yourself as you inhale. Scan your body with each in- and exhalation. Send your exhalations into places of stress and tension to release.

We may not be meditating experts. But we are all professional, lifelong breathers. Therefore even without attending Petra’s session, we can reap the benefits of loving kindness meditation when we use our breath to become more present. And loving. And kind. Except towards that one guy who really acted jerky and ….. Inhale Exhale Inhale Exhale.

Now subscribe to our blog.

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

Top Quotes and Insider Fitness Trends for Boomers-2016

 

Live Better with Meditation, Menopause, and Memory

 

3 Ways to Lose Weight without Dieting or Exercising

4

Sightseeing Counts as Exercise

On a whim, I decided to take my son and a friend to Los Angeles for the day to do some sightseeing. It’s a 90-mile drive, which means about 4 hours in the car for the round trip (traffic willing), which is about the same amount of time I’ve spent sitting on a sightseeing tour bus when we go halfway around the world.

Venice Beach Canal BoatWhen I think of international sightseeing bus excursions, I usually focus on all the time spent sitting on the bus, which I equate with enforced passive activity (an oxymoron if ever there was one). Yet yesterday’s local excursion helped me realize that sightseeing can really mean quite a bit of walking, which is definitely exercise.

Farmers Market Los Angeles

The Grove by Farmers MarketOnce in Los Angeles, we first drove east toward downtown to visit Farmers Market, then we took Venice Blvd. west all the way to Venice Beach. We spent two hours at Farmers Market and The Grove (my son seems to like this place that feels like a combination of upscale shopping and Universal Studios), then another 2-3 hours walking on the boardwalk and pier at Venice Beach.

Canal in Venice, Los AngelesWhen you're sightseeing, it's easy to log more steps than you expected. #FitFluential Click To Tweet

By the time we got back in the car to head home, I had logged about 6 miles on my Charity Miles app, a fantastic FREE app that logs your walk, run or bike ride, then donates money to the charity of your choice (from their extensive list) based on the number of miles you completed. Win Win Win.

Crowd and building at Venice BeachThe next time you go on a sightseeing junket, near OR far, download the app or check your fitness tracker to see how much you’ve walked. If you’re like me, and feel like all you did was sit all day, you may be surprised. Six miles definitely counts as exercise. And my feet were ready for the car at about 5.5 miles, so that’s another sign that I was moving and logging those steps. Though next time maybe I should pay one of those strapping fellows who work out at Muscle Beach to carry me that last half mile.

View from Venice PierWhen did you last surprise yourself by discovering you had “accidentally” exercised more than you had expected?

When did you get a surprise when you last went traveling? Read about one of our unusual experiences. We survived. Barely: Hiking with the Leeches

Alexandra Williams, MA

6

Add Customer Service to Your Life

While spending a week at Rancho la Puerta resort I decided to focus my photo eye on themes – sculptures, peaceful settings, contemplation – which all sort of ended up being folded in one category – attention to detail. Once I started to seek out the details that make the spa consistently rated as one of the best spas in the world, I realized what was really going on, and that is customer service.

daily quoteIt all started when the lens broke on my good camera before I had even taken a single picture at the Ranch. My first reaction was to assume it was my own problem to deal with, as I was “only” a guest instructor, not a paying guest. That would have been a mistake, as the Ranch staff made sure to listen, then act to find a solution. The manager told me the options, gave me a realistic time frame, and a promise to keep me up to date. I went away feeling valued (this is also a good time to let you know that all photos in this post are from my iPhone due to that broken Canon).

Ranch statuesThat interaction on Day 1 made me decide to pay close attention to instances of Customer Service:

Listen / Pay Attention

Find a Solution

Customer Feels Valued

Places and people that are excellent at customer service are easy to overlook because they make it look so natural and seamless, which means it can go unnoticed. Of course, that’s the point most of the time, right?!

Do you know & practice the two components of customer service in your life? Click To Tweet

Rancho la Puerta landscapingLook For It

Once I consciously looked for examples of customer service, I realized I was surrounded by it. Staff on the Ranch always:

say hello every time they see you; from the concierge to the landscapers

step aside to let you pass on the pathways

remember that you like butter on your oatmeal and have it ready for you

help with special requests (such as picking up a particular piñata in a town 40 miles away)

pick up trash and keep all pathways clear so it’s easy to walk, especially at night

start and end classes on time

have hot water and coffee ready in the lounge areas (you will NOT find lukewarm water that ruins your tea)

ask how they can make your stay better

take guest feedback and act on it (from the fitness program to the garden sculptures to breakfast outdoors by the Villa Pool)

One example that really helped me understand why they are so consistently ranked as #1 involved a couple who came in to the front reception to ask how to build a fire in their room’s fireplace. The staff person asked if they would prefer to have the staff light the fire, what time, and how often? She then promised to send someone every day to light their fire in the evening. She could have answered their question literally and told them how to build the fire. Instead she answered their underlying desire by arranging for a daily fire.

villa at Rancho la PuertaProvide It

That got me to wondering how I could become better at creating customer service to my clients and students. Can I smile more? Can I ask how to be helpful more often? Can I anticipate their needs? Can I provide the extra “oomph” that creates a quality experience? It turns out I can do that. It’s not about feeling subservient; it’s about working as an equal to enhance our mutual experience. I’ll give some examples, and see if you think I hit the mark.

As part of the programming, I taught the choreography for Thriller for two dance classes for guests. They asked for an extra class to really “get” the choreography. Even though I could have declined with no backlash to me, I met with the students for an extra hour. They felt valued as guests, and I got an extra hour of practice while making friends.

During an interval class with treadmills, bikes and the elliptical machine, I brought water and towels to the guests as they got thirsty and sweaty. They didn’t have to stop their workout, and I felt good knowing I was helping them reach their fitness goals.

I memorized the names of a few of the most outstanding staff members, then found their managers to let them know about their excellence (and yes, I also leave tips).

plants at Rancho la Puerta

Sometimes the most obvious things, such as being kind or doing an extra little something, are the easiest to miss or skip. Yet how you spend your time shows what you value. If I spend my time providing customer service, that aligns with the fact that I value people and kindness. Tomorrow I plan to consciously seek out at least four opportunities to provide good customer service. Eventually it might become a habit. And who knows? Maybe my little ripple in the pond will create a ripple effect that brings a bit of light to someone who has too much darkness and needs that light. Hmmm, now that brings me to the philosophical question of whether altruism is inherently selfish. But that’s for another day. For now, let us know how YOU provide excellent customer service.

Rancho la Puerta quoteAlexandra Williams, MA

 

 

6

Top Quotes and Insider Fitness Trends for Boomers-2016

This is My Year Fitness Trends for BoomersFitness Trends for Boomers

Is it time to make your workouts even better, beloved baby boomers? Then get your insider insights right here. Step right up. Literally.

Who likes to be out in front? And I’m not talking cleavage or bellies here. If you’re ready to take advantage of the latest findings in the fitness world, then hang onto your stretchy legging waistbands.  Let’s zip together through some of the key highlights, workout tips, and quotes from the recent IDEA World Fitness Convention.

Take on some of these takeaways to enter the next year even more prepared to redefine active aging for our generation and the generations to come.

Reports from the IDEA World Fitness Convention

Alexandra and I just returned from this primary industry event for fitness professionals from around the world. In her capacity as a roving editor for IDEA, Alexandra attended a range of sessions. (See her reports here: 5 Trends from the IDEA Fitness Convention and Diversity and Collaboration Mark Key Themes). I had the honor to be both a presenter and attendee, with my keen eyes focused on sessions specifically for the over fifty crowd. (Add these other key midlife workout themes to your life and really soar).

Let’s jump to the head of class with a romp through some trends from the industry’s leaders.

Top Two Medical Conditions Adults Over 50 Have

From “Functional Power Training for Older Adults” led by Cody Sipe, PhD

Fitness trends for boomers at IDEA, K and A

Alexandra was inspired to whack Kymberly with her cane. No wonder we both have osteoarthritis.

Cody’s opening statement motivated me (as an over 50 personage myself): “Exercise has the ability to change older adults’ aging trajectory.” Knew it, but can always use the kick in the formerly tight, toned tushie of mine. Raise your hand if you want to disrupt your aging trajectory.

What do we need to add to our workouts? First, Cody asked us if we knew the two main conditions experienced by older adults? Turns out the top two are hypertension and osteoarthritis.  Oh yeah, I hear you Cody My Man. (Say I with the knee arthritis and sister who just had total knee replacement). Ok, so we have to account for these conditions while working to prevent them from limiting our lives. 

Next he posed the question: “Without training specifically to prevent it, which function do we lose with age more than muscular strength and muscle mass?” The answer surprised me as I know the (not so happy) stats on muscles loss in our aging population. You ready for it? Power, defined as the ability to move a load quickly. In addition to training for strength, we midlifers also need to focus on velocity and force of movement. In other words, it’s time to increase speed of motion while reducing the load when we consider a total resistance training right for our bodies. According to Cody, we’re past time if we pass our prime without power (Uh, I made up that exact wording as I kinda like how it encapsulates Cody’s point).

How Do Strength and Power Affect Your Daily Life?

Let’s put this into practical application and context of our daily activities:

  • Strength allows us to carry groceries; Power allows us to prevent falls.
  • Strength helps us pick up grandkids; Power kicks in when we grab our grandkids out of danger’s way.
  • Strength gets our luggage up and into the overhead bin; Power serves us to transport that luggage from A to B. If you’ve ever traveled to China, let me say that A to B at their train stations includes only stairs — no ramps, elevators, escalators, or handy porters. Yes, this is personal experience talking. Our mom took Alexandra and me to China and Tibet a decade ago. She needed help with her luggage, which gave us lots of opportunity to develop our power as mom does not pack lightly and the A to B connections in China seem about a continent apart. Pant pant sweat sweat. I did my power training for a decade on that journey!

What’s the workout takeaway here? You finally get the official clearance to lift light weights — as long as you add speed to those moves! Therefore, it’s time to do some lifts, jumps, and throws my midlife buddies if you want to retain power and change your aging trajectory!

You Can’t Really Stay in One Place: You’re Either Going Forwards or Backwards

Kymberly and Alexandra post bike ride Fitness trends for boomers

Going forwards, backwards, and upwards.

Using Function to Avoid Dysfunction, presented by Mark Kelly, PhD, CSCS

Mark is the living example of how lean, fit, funny, energetic, and functional an over 50 year old can be.  I was so busy taking notes that I took no picture of him. However, take my word for it that he turned his aging trajectory around big time!

Not only was his session loaded with great moves to improve function, but also he had some great quotes relative to movement that you may also enjoy.

  • “Not going forwards is going backwards.”
  • “Not going backwards is going forwards.”
  • “If functional ability measures aging, and exercise increases functional ability, then exercise counters aging.” I know, I know — you already knew that, especially if you’ve been reading our blog for any time. But Mark puts the case so succinctly and it’s a good reminder.

If you want to try out some of the clever, fun, brain and body smart moves Mark introduced, then join my group fitness classes in Santa Barbara. Come on Fridays when I try out the good stuff on my fit-tastic and amazing class participants. They’re the ones saying “warn us next time you go to the IDEA Convention.”

Live Long: Die Short

Fitness Trends for Boomers

Try these trends to be MORE fit!

Let’s leave Mark’s session with the question he opened with:

“Are we living longer or simply dying slower?”  

In a separate post, you’ll get the the direct pipeline to more happiness, less stress, and a more self-loving you, courtesy of award-winning presenter, Petra Kolber.  Her session “Heavily Meditated and Highly Motivated” had a lot of quick, easy, powerful meditations I am eager to share with you.   Meditation is a HUGE option and one of the biggest fitness trends for boomers as more research comes out about its benefits. For now, let’s take our leave with a reminder from Petra that I hope will have you adding power to your active life:

  • “Don’t exchange what you want most for what you want at the moment.”

ACTION: We hope you want most and at this moment is to subscribe to our twice weekly posts that bring you active aging tips and inspiration. Enter your email in any of the subscription boxes; claim a bonus while you’re at it.

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Fitness Trends and 3 Themes for Older Adults

Kymberly w/ step at club

Who else wants to be a baby boomer exercising trendsetter?

Fitness Goals for Older Adults and the Over 50 Exerciser: Are Your Goals Listed?

Fitness for Older Adults, my title slide from IDEA

Title slide from my IDEA session

How many times have you thought, “I want to improve my fitness program, but NOT the hard core one I did when I was younger?” As a baby boomer or older adult are you looking for intelligent, effective, yet comfortable exercise options? Do you worry about losing cognitive skills, getting hurt, gaining weight, losing strength, and not being able to do activities you love? At the same time, do you like to know that your workout and exercise choices are smart ones? Perhaps even cutting edge and trending?

Then the themes and trends I experienced (and contributed to) at the recent IDEA World Fitness Convention will help you meet your goals. (For my sister’s take on overall fitness trends, take a peek at “5 Trends from the Annual IDEA Convention.”)

Kymberly at IDEA - over 50, older adultsMy focus was first on doing well in my own session as a presenter.  I shared 7 principles for creating outstanding group programs for baby boomers. You get 3 of them here! Then I attended every other session devoted to the over 50 exerciser, especially the more active movers and groovers (as opposed to sessions devoted to the frail and elderly).  

2 Fitness Trends Plus a Bonus for Older Adults Who Read all of this Post

The biggest trend I saw was the very fact that fitness pros from around the world are FINALLY interested in serving the over 50 exerciser – specifically, in a targeted way. My session, “Fitness Over 50: Getting ReStarted” was filled to capacity. Yay! And the other presentations devoted to our age group were also packed. Heck, this year IDEA offered the most sessions ever devoted to the midlifer and older adult. That’s related to trend #2 – IDEA and the various presenters for this age group finally separated the “older exerciser” into two distinct groups: the baby boomers (ages 52-70) and the seniors or “matures” who are 70+. Prior to this year anyone 50-100 was lumped into one category.

If you are curious about other trends for our age group, read my take on the Top 10 Fitness Trends for 2016

Top 10 Fitness Trends: Aging Actively is SOooo 2016

Trend #1 - fitness focus on the over 50 exerciser is finally cool and Hawt! #activeaging Click To Tweet

Improve Your Own Workouts Based on these Trends and Themes

What were some key fitness themes and workout design principles for older adults as evidenced at the IDEA Convention? How can you incorporate them into your workouts? The following 3 themes, or guiding principles will help you create the best workouts for your midlife body.  These principles are adapted from my session, which must have been trendy as all the other “older adult” presenters alluded to them as well.

Use these 3 guiding principles to create the best workouts for your midlife body. #babyboomers… Click To Tweet

If you weave in even one or two of these themes, you will be able to:

  1. Create targeted fitness programs that are low risk, yet yield high rewards;
  2. Offer moves specific to your cognitive and physical needs as an older adult;
  3. Move from stuck or unstarted to strong.

3 Fitness Themes for the Over 50 Exerciser

Crossing midline

One of our BoomChickaBoomers crossing her midline

  1. Choose Movement Patterns that Enhance your Cognitive and Physical Skills

Why not get a two-fer benefit with each exercise choice? Look for opportunities to cross the midline of your body with an arm, leg or both at once.

Move to music that has polyrhythms or beats that are more complex than straight count.

Attend workout classes where the instructor cues patterns. The brain work involved in interpreting verbal commands and following choreography literally increases your dendrites, ganglia, and axons.

  1. Choose Functional Movement Options

Ask yourself whether the moves you are choosing relate to activities of daily living (ADL). For instance, incorporate dynamic balance moves, not solely static ones since we normally need to balance while moving, not holding still. Recognize walking as the ultimate and primary balance and functional move.  So take walks. And when you do, test your balance by intermittently slowing your stride. Super slow. Then speed up. Super fast.

Training for travel, older adult

Planking at the Sydney Opera House was part of my travel plan

Let’s say you have a plan to travel. Keep in mind that especially in foreign countries  you’ll be climbing stairs; walking on uneven terrain; navigating unfamiliar environments; carrying loads, dealing with fatigue and time changes. Plan to be your active best when traveling by making stepping up and down part of your workout program. Or lifting your legs up and over things so you’ll be ready for those low walls abroad.Practice twisting and turning while carrying weights (luggage, souvenirs, small grandchildren).

Do you include posture work in your routine? If not, it’s tiiiiime. Which do you think will have a bigger impact on your ability to age actively — having popping fresh biceps (single joint strength training isolation move) or having a strong core and back that keep you lifted and long? (Yeah, the opposite of stooped with rounded shoulders).

  1. Challenge Your Balance

kayaking on Whiskeytown Lake An older adult aging actively

An activity I enjoy.

Use balance work as a move itself or as a stance option for any standing move. Not only could you incorporate balance moves into your workout, but also you can improve your balance while working your upper body or doing standing stretches. How? But narrowing your stance. Don’t always set your feet shoulder width apart and parallel. Instead, place one foot directly in front of the other in what’s called “tandem” position. Now try those tricep kickbacks or upper body stretch. Trickier right? Whenever possible choose a narrow vs wide base of support.

Are you already rethinking your program? Less working one muscle at a time and more enhancing your overall ability to move and continue doing the activities you enjoy?

QUESTION: Would you be interested in a digital product that offered moves and workout programs that follow the themes listed here?  If we created videos and support text that allowed you to mix and match effective programs with balance, posture, and functional exercises, would you value that?

ACTION: While pondering the above, why not subscribe if you aren’t already part of our community? Enter your email in any of the opt-in boxes plus claim your bonus booklet.

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

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5 Trends from the Annual Fitness Convention

I recently attended the IDEA World Fitness and Nutrition Convention, which is the annual event for fitness professionals. We come to learn the latest trends in fitness programming, healthy nutrition and business practices, as well as checking out hundreds of booths in the Expo for the latest products and services.

cafe gratitude, IDEA Convention

IDEA Fitness Journal has contracted with me for the past few years to cover the convention, with a specific eye toward food and group fitness. Who would say no to that? Not I. One of the benefits of attending is that I get a first look at the upcoming trends in the industry. I also get to write about those trends. One of my articles is already posted over at IDEA, so I hope you’ll read it: Diversity and Collaboration Mark an Outstanding Event.

5 trends from the IDEA Fitness & Nutrition Convention that may affect U. #FitFluential… Click To Tweet

Five trends I thought might interest you are as follows:

Dance, dance, dance – More styles were present than I recall in the past 35 years of this convention: Stomp (stepping), Bollywood, Dancing with the Stars-inspired ballroom, military and martial arts dance fusion, South African, and even a combo dance and Step workout. People our age are rediscovering the joys of dance and I expect to see clubs and studios offering more depth to their dance programming.

Dance at IDEA World

Somewhere in the center, Louis van Amstel is leading a conga line.

Celebrity-based workouts – Probably due to social media breaking down barriers, it’s now possible to work out and even chat with some of your favorite celebrities. Louis van Amstel of DWTS, Jillian Michaels of Biggest Loser, Cassy Ho of Pop Pilates – all were there sharing info on their latest workout programs and leading classes. Look for more celebrities crossing the barrier from on-screen to in-person.

Link between nutrition and behavior – This year had a summit track inside the wider convention – the first-ever IDEA World Nutrition & Behavior Change Summit. For a full day, experts from places such as Stanford, Harvard, Yale and University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus came to speak about the link between food and behavior change. Though it may seem obvious in hindsight, it’s groundbreaking to see researchers, medical doctors and health coaches/ psychologists come speak to thousands of fitness professionals. I expect to see further strengthening of the ties between these groups.

nutrition at IDEA World

Fruit, cereal and yogurt parfait. Yum.

Link between food and fitness – Again, this may seem obvious, but for many years the healthy food people had their conventions and made no mention at all about the link between eating and exercise. So the fitness world went to the food people and invited them to speak and exhibit at the fitness convention. Not only are the healthy food vendors now coming to where the fitness pros are, the fitness pros themselves are now getting additional certifications in nutrition. Your instructors and trainers have more knowledge than ever about eating healthfully.

Boomers are different from older adults – At past conventions, people over 50 were sort of lumped together at lectures and workshops. Of course, the needs and goals of an active 50-year-old tend to be different than those of a frail 85-year-old. And this year, more sessions than ever delineated between the groups. My sister was one of the presenters on Boomer Fitness. We are the first generation to intentionally embrace (to a degree) exercise as a way to to stay healthy post-college. I believe that more clubs will be offering demographic-based programming, especially for the Boomer market.

Inspire at IDEA World

Boomers love to be inspired to move. In any way available.

Look for an upcoming post from my sis about the trends she spotted at the convention.

Alexandra Williams, MA

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