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22

It’s My Boomer Birthday and I’m Becoming Less Visible

Alexandra Williams, MA
birthday art

Happy birthday to my twin sister!

I’m turning 56 in a few days, right on the heels of attending the IDEA World Fitness Convention. I don’t care either way about tacking on another year, yet I have noticed a trend over the past few years. I seem to be becoming less visible. Or maybe just less desirable. Let me explain.

First of all, I’ve been going to the IDEA conventions since they began in the 80s. So I love to attend and see long-time fitness friends from around the world. It’s one of the highlights for me. I also love to check out all the latest workout trends. When I first started teaching (West Berlin, 1983), all we had was high impact aerobics. That was thousands of clever ideas ago, I know.

Alexandra in West Berlin 1983

Relaxing in Berlin, 1983

But this year for the first time, as I walked around the Expo and sat in on sessions (with a press pass you are not allowed to participate, which is fair), I didn’t see a lot of workouts that would accommodate my body (or tastes, in some cases), and I’m actually in pretty good shape. The high impact, loud techno/ rap workouts don’t appeal to me. Neither do the very slow, quiet “older adult” workouts. I’m in the middle – stronger and with more stamina than my 20-year old university students, aware of current music (loving Aloe Blacc’s anthem “I’m the Man”), and willing to try new ideas – so I like high intensity, fun formats that challenge me, yet don’t seem to be an injury-in-waiting.

picture of IDEA World Fitness Convention Expo hall

Expo Hall at IDEA World Fitness Convention

Also, at some of the booths and workouts, participants could win prizes based on doing the MOST – repetitions, weight, time – anything that had me competing with everyone else. And by “everyone else” I mean “people 25 years younger.” I don’t like competitions where I might look foolish or old or weak, as I am none of those. I like competitions where I’m pitted against myself. I want to be the BEST, not the MOST.

picture of push-ups/ knee tucks on suspension cable

The smile is fake. Doing 20 suspended push-up/ knee tucks was hard.

If you want my business, or even want me to stop at your booth, you need to find a way to make me feel like a winner. For example, at one booth, anyone who could do 20 suspension push-up/ knee tucks could win a prize. I didn’t care about the prize, but I wanted to challenge myself. I managed to do the 20 (barely), and left happy. I didn’t care that the 20 year old guy just after me did them in mere seconds without looking remotely tired because I wasn’t pitted against him. Hey, that was me when I was that age.

But I’m not that age anymore, nor do I wish to be. I’d have to give up my boys if I were that young again, and a modicum of wisdom. The point being this – if fitness brands are ignoring someone as confident, assertive and fit as I am, what the heck do they think is going on with women my age who are nervous about exercise? If that were me, I’d be defeated at the start.

If you are a brand, let me help you out – we have more stamina, time, long-term view, patience, and MONEY. Find a way. And for my birthday, please send me Aloe Blacc.

I am unstoppable, not invisible.

Photo credits: birthday art: Prawny; Expo Hall: IDEA