Kymberly: Dana, I’ll meet your question and raise you one. What do you want to do with the information you get from a fitness test? For instance, you could ask “how do I know if I am fit enough to keep these hossies of mine in good condition and still have energy to plow the fields, till the land, and ride off into the sunset?” Then your fitness level is defined by your ability to function and continue doing the activities you love. This kind of fitness is called “functional” or “real life fitness.” Well, I call it “real life fitness” anyway and I think my sis will back me up on any terms I make up.
For determining your functional fitness level, you have an easy job. Can you perform your ranch work and other daily activities with relative ease, comfort and range of motion without getting exhausted or injured at the end of the day? And can you keep doing that until you or your horses head out to pasture? Easy, shmeasy to measure, so I hope you go for that definition of fitness.
Your question might also be coming from the perspective of “how do I measure percent of body fat, lean muscle mass, flexibility, and endurance without actually taking those tests, which are the standards for defining and measuring fitness?” That question is a horse of a different color entirely. Oh, two points to me for getting that in! I have to cut to Alexandra for a moment while I contain (or applaud) myself.
Alexandra: I have to say that Kymberly is not containing herself at all; she is just horsing around! Oh, neigh it ain’t so! For all those measurement tests Kymberly mentions, one option is to hire a qualified personal trainer. Since you are a horse rancher, not a gym rat, get the trainer to come to you. You can find one in your area at ACE Fitness: Find a Trainer. But…since you say you want to test yourself, go in your closet and try on all the stuff you haven’t worn in a year. If it fits, you know you are the same size. Granted, this does not directly say you are fit; just that you are not gaining weight. However, midlife weight gain can lead to lowered fitness levels, so there is some correlation.
To get a better sense of whether you are retaining your strength as you actively age, count how many push-ups you can do with good form. Make a record. Count your push-ups again in 3 months. Compare the numbers. Burst out in tears of joy. Same with lunges or squats. Gotta say, in all my years, it’s rare to see someone perform a lunge, squat or push-up with good form right out the gate (oooh, another horse reference). So we are back to that personal trainer idea.
Kymberly: Also perform these three tests, which are quick, easy, and doable at home. You will then have a good sense of your balance, flexibility, and lower body strength.
Also consider tacking on some wearable technology that tracks your heart rate, pulse, activity levels, and more. For an idea of the range of possibilities, read our post, Can Your WearableTech Do All This? You can find fitness tracking devices that range from $12 (Check out the Pivotal Living band, which also tracks your hydration levels) to a hundred dollars and more. (Take a peek at the Peak from Basis). Do you want to know your sleep habits? Number of calories burned? Steps per day? Whether your right and left muscles are balanced? What your resting heart rate is? You have so many options these days for assessing your fitness level, that others will marvel at your horse sense.
Alexandra: Since you need at least one good chuckle from this blog, I’d say ask your husband to check you out first thing in the morning before you get dressed. If he says you look hot and exactly like you did at 30, you might be fit. And he gets points for dodging that set-up. If he says you don’t look quite the same, throw a horse at him. If you can do this, you are fit enough!
Readers: Who else wonders whether you are “fit enough?” Fit for what? Do tell. We wonder if you are fit enough to subscribe to our blog in under 10 seconds. Ready? Subscribe. Go!
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
How good is your functional balance control? You can find out in under 2 minutes. You can also discover which of your three balancing systems is strongest.
I had fun trying the balance assessment below when I attended the first Functional Aging Summit in Phoenix this past week. Day one of the conference was dedicated to learning how to maximize physical function for the over 50 exerciser. In order to know what to progress, we first need to establish baselines. It’s the ole’ “you don’t know where to go until you know where you are” approach. Ergo — Time to tackle fitness assessments that measure functional abilities such as static balance, dynamic strength, and dynamic balance. (What exactly is “functional fitness”? Click to our post with the answer once you have read this one).
My fun gets to be your fun. Try the following test which assesses your ability to maintain static balance when one or more sensory systems are inhibited. Stand on both legs with your arms against your sides. Perform each of the four conditions for 30 seconds with someone else timing you and keeping an eye out in case you fall or need a hand. Stop the test if you:
Before you begin, let’s define a few terms so you know which of your balance senses are fine and dandy or need development.
Ok, now to find out which of these three senses are your best friends, and which (if any) need better buddying up. Ready, set, time yourself!
– you are using your visual, somatosensory, and vestibular systems.
– you have pulled out your visual system, and are using just the vestibular and somatosensory systems.
(stand on a foam pad or BOSU ball, for example) – you are dependent on your visual and vestibular systems in this case.
(again using a foam pad or BOSU ball) – you are relying on the vestibular system alone.
How many seconds were you able to last for each condition? Under which conditions did you have troubles?
I’ll tell you who aced these tests when we tried them at the Functional Aging Summit — my new pal and inspiration, Marliene, an 80 year old teacher/ trainer from northern California. Not only did she have amazing balance and get to 30 seconds for all four conditions, but also she beat me in the Sit to Stand assessment test. I managed only 19 ups and downs to her 20, which put her above the 90 percentile for her age group and me in the 75% for mine. She is THE example of what active aging and functional training can do for a person. Yeah, I wish I had taken her picture, but we were too busy learning cool, functional exercises.
Side (plank) note: I just became the first fitness pro in my county to achieve the Functional Aging Specialist certification. You can read about it here on noozhawk.
The write up means I have a chance to be as incredible as Marliene one day — IF I put all my functional training knowledge into action! How about you?
Take the balance test. Record your results. Which of your balance senses were strongest? Weakest? Let us know in the comments below.
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
PS If you want to assess your leg strength, then check out this companion post, How Strong is Your Lower Body?
You SAY you want to start again with a fitness program that is tailored to your midlife body; that you intend to move more often, though comfortably; that you’d love to be strong enough to enjoy the second half of life even more than the first. You now have the chance to put your money where your menopot is!
We recently told you about our TransformAging Webinar Summit for Women Over 45, which is only a week away, on June 3 and 4 starting at 5:30 pm EST/2:30pm PT and accessible for 48 hours at no cost.A Fountain of Youth really does exist, and it’s free to you. Just like this TransformAging Summit that’s sponsored by our long-time friends, Rancho la Puerta Resort. Registration is now open, so sign-up here to join us. So easy. Just like many of the active aging secrets we and 5 other fitness experts will share with you.
Have you thought back to movement you used to do and decided “I need something more attainable and less intense now that I am in my second half of life”? Yet you still want to enjoy all that life has to offer, in a comfortable, sensible way? So have we. As a matter of fact, so many of you have contacted us asking for exactly these sessions, that we gathered up the BEST presenters just for you.
Why stay in one of the 7 circles of hormone and weight gain hell, when you can stroll the labyrinth of a comfortable life? This six-video collection offers practical strategies to make the second half of life as rewarding as the first. Take at gander at the session titles:
If you’re like Chris O’Dowd in Bridesmaids (love that movie), you’re probably saying, “Really? Really?” by now in a sexy Irish accent because you cannot believe we said you could get all 6 videos for free. But we cannot tell a lie (a different movie altogether) – you get them FREE for 48 hours. That’s 2 days (June 3 & 4), 6 videos, 8 experts, and 1 YOU, gaining access to interviews, practical tips, and easy-to-follow strategies geared specifically toward Over-45 Women.
See the picture just below? That’s Alexandra at Rancho la Puerta a few weeks ago. Does that look like strength training? It is. Does it look fun? It was. Movement is fun. Climbing stuff is fun. Eating well is fun. Going to a spa resort with friends is fun. Hiking through the grove shown below is fun. And all of this liveli-fun-ness is accessible to you too, once you make a few simple changes to your daily habits.
Oh excuse me, but isn’t that Kymberly doing an even livelier version of the post-hike, archway hang? And she’ll hang there until you register for our TransformAging Summit. Please hurry and do so as those rocks can be slippery!
Did you Register Right Here yet?
Now you get some lovely pictures taken at Rancho la Puerta, which is about an hour’s drive east of San Diego. We partnered with them because they are the ideal fitness and health resort for Boomer women. Even if you spend all your time lounging at the pool and getting massages, you’ll still get more fit, thanks to two other key components of active aging that the Ranch offers that have nothing to do with exercise or food. .
Let your Inner Fabulosity Bloom. And in case you’re too tired to scroll back up, here is the registration link once again. We invite you to join us on June 3 and 4.
By Alexandra Williams-MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
Therefore we are embarking on a course culminating in us becoming certified Functional Aging Specialists. Hard to make that certification sound sexaaaay, but it is! And you may increase your sexy sass too if you take our advice based on what we learn. This credential is designed to be the “ultimate mark of distinction for fitness professionals” wanting to work with the over 50
gang, crowd, party people! The goal of the curriculum is to maximize physical function for mature adults. We already know how to handle immature adults. Ah ha ha aha.
You may be asking “What is Functional Training and how is it different from traditional workouts?” Um, you were asking, right? Just say “yes.”
Functional fitness trains your body for the activities of daily life. Another way to think of it is focusing your exercise efforts on Movement, NOT Muscles. How does your workout translate to making your work, hobbies, daily tasks, leisure activities, and occupation easier, better, and more comfortable?
Bicep curls, triceps extensions, and bicycle crunches certainly have a place in the exercise world. But as we age, moves that allow us to maintain (maybe expand?) our physical capabilities become more relevant. Enticing even! We’re talking Quality of Life here, Boom Chicka Boomers and cohorts! Let’s avoid “boomeritis” and move in ways that support the life we’d like to become accustomed to. Can you step over big obstacles on the ground, for example?
Is National Celebrity Status as Baby Boomer Fitness Pros Too Much to Ask?
We energetically share that we want to be the IT girls when you think of fitness and baby boomers. Nationally, globally, intergalactically.: K and A = top fitness sources for over 50 active aging advice pros. Please wish us luck and good study habits as we launch into the 18 module program that has a timed test and a spiffy looking piece of paper with a gold stamp on it at the end. The certification program — offered by Drs. Cody Sipe and Dan Ritchie of the Functional Aging Institute (FAI) — takes up to 6 months to complete. Since we are overachievers who make the top 10ish percent possible, we plan to finish in halfish that time. (Read our About Us page if you want to peel back the curtain on our other qualifications).
Are You Joining Us As We Go From Special to Specialized?
Functional fitness fanatics (and the FAI) declare that If you move better, you feel better. And when you feel better, you look better. And, Daaaahlinks, You Look Marvelous! Or you will when we’re finished with you … and our certification program! Yup, we are going from being Special to Specialized Functional Aging Pros and you are coming with us. Right?
PS Comment below if you know whom we are paraphrasing about looking Maah-vah-lous! Reveal your true midlife status.
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
During the interview she listed key workout components baby boomer women need to achieve optimal fitness. First, though, we all agreed that midlife exercisers (and future exercisers) are special.
So what do we unusual, interesting, unique, and different women need to do to achieve functionally strong and healthy bodies, minds and attitudes?
Alexandra: I am seriously hoping the answer involves Clive Owen or Colin Firth, but I’ll settle for just assuming you are speaking of ME when you use the adjectives “unusual, interesting, unique, and different.” Hmmm, second guess. Does it involve bacon? Even though I am a vegetarian, I feel certain that the answer to many things is “bacon.”
Now, you said midlife women are special in 6 ways. And if you’d given 6 training principles, I’d know Bacon was the answer — Kevin Bacon. If you don’t know about the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, you can read the link while doing your seven training principles. To defy gravity (and age), plus engage in gym movements, do this Footloose workout.
Kymberly: We know my sister is really Baking, not Bacon Woman. Anyway, stay Footloose and Bacon Free when you incorporate the following into your regimen:
Continue to build bone strength by selecting impact activities. Especially at our age, we need to strike the ground by walking, jogging, skipping, and stepping to stimulate our bones. Step classes are particularly effective at offering impact without adverse joint stress. This is a case of wanting gravity’s effects!
Choose movements and exercises that mimic daily life activities such as climbing stairs, loading groceries into the car, carrying luggage on fun, exotic, vacation trips. (A boomer can envision, nicht wahr?) Such exercises might include step ups and squats, for instance.
Brace through the core and hinge from the hips. Add dead lifts to your repertoire — but let’s call them “live lifts,” shall we? Look for opportunities to activate the back (dorsal side) of your body in addition to performing ab and core work.
Be sure to sit and stand “strong.” Address muscle imbalances. Take action now to improve posture now and later. No Dowager’s Hump for you, just Dowager title and property rights. Speak to me Downtown Abbey fans!
Move in ways that connect the left and right sides of the brain such as crossing the midline, performing diagonal movements, (cross chops anyone?) memorizing movement patterns (choreography is a good thing), and following cues or directions. You can see where fitness classes really are ideal for those of us wanting more than physical payoff from our workouts.
Reap on land some of the gravity defying benefits of water exercise. Who doesn’t look forward to reduced joint stress, buoyancy, and a certain lightness of being? Translate that “up” feeling to land movement by emphasizing the up phase. For example, with squats, engage your muscles more when standing than lowering. Change the pace, speed, or emPHAsis of moves to prioritize the press away from the floor. In short, concentrate on the parts of exercises that work against gravity.
I, I, I , yi yi! Use both cardio and resistance training to target age-related risks and preventable declines. Do the exercises you choose challenge your mobility? Balance? Bones? Coordination? Just as you might choose nutritionally dense foods, select movements that offer a compound or multiple return for your invested effort.
Kymberly: We recommend you listen to our entire interview with Mo if you want more detail, and to hear Alexandra’s mental skips and jaunts. As Mo recommends in the radio episode, we need to begin with the end in mind — to increase our overall strength, stamina, core strength, mental agility, resistance to disease, and ability to continue pursuing life with vigor and enthusiasm. Heck, we also want to look good, right?
Alexandra: I’ve only got my end in mind.
To really be ahead of the game, try Training Principle Number 8 and 9:
2) Pick up the phone or email us to book us to speak at your next meeting or conference. Call (805) 403-4338 or email email@example.com.
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
When Tony followed up that comment by reminding us that “one size exercise program does not fit all,” I started to trust his message a bit more. Known worldwide for his high intensity, high impact, high energy exercise programs, Tony was the last person I expected to advocate for moderation, caution, and mental flexibility. Yet here he was spreading the word that “our goal as fitness professionals and (healthy living) bloggers is to get more people into the movement game” while getting our ego out. He admitted up front that his program, or ANY high intensity workout is right for some, but not all. As baby boomers, we might want to go all out, but if our joints don’t agree, then we’re wise to modify. I, for one, am neither happy nor healthy when I push too hard and increase my knee pain. Sure, I love the benefits intense workouts offer, but not if I suffer long term.
Stick with me as I share a few more quotes and key comments from Tony’s talk on “The New Way to Work Out” that may elevate your happiness and healthiness levels! (For more on the effect your reasons for working out matter so much, also read our post Why You Want to Lose Weight Affects Your Success.
What gets you into the movement game? Why do you exercise? If you are like most people I have taught and met in fitness classes over the last 34 years on 4 continents and online, you work out to … wait for it … wait for it… look better. You may also want to feel better, to live longer, to think more cogently — or reap a zillion other benefits that movement offers. But looking better continues to pop up as reason numero uno. If we ask ourselves why we want to look better, what lies beyond? To do what? To be what? To get what? I think Tony nailed it that we really seek a level of happiness. Oh Yes, I firmly believe active people are happier people.
“Do scary things that won’t kill you,” challenged Tony, himself a baby boomer. What physical activity have you thought about doing that scares you a bit? For me, it was learning to snowboard. Going downhill fast still scares me. Doing plyo jump squats scares my knee into “cap” – tivity. Get it? Ha ah aha My sense of humor scares others, but not me.
“Focus on getting better as opposed to going through the motions.” Tony’s emphasis on form and technique over pushing hard and damn the torpedoes was a welcome message I hope you take to heart. And to the gym. Doing more bad reps does not give you better results. Better form gets you to your happy place. In fact, your body will change when you focus on skill. Well, your body will change regardless (thanks again menopause!), but we’re talking changing for the better with mindful movement.
Remember the mantra from our post, Reducing Obesity — What Does and Doesn’t Work: Move More: Sit Less and you will be on your way to more happiness. Don’t Worry; Be Happy (Thanks Bobby McFerrin for getting that tune stuck in our heads). Feel free to leave answers to the questions in our post down in the comment section.
A) Hire us to speak at your next meeting or conference. Call (805) 403-4338 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
B) Subscribe to our YouTube channel and blog.
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
We confess – we used to teach air circles ourselves back in the 80s. But they don’t actually work anything effectively. The arm circling exercise really just stresses the shoulder and wrist joints. If you want to target your biceps, triceps, or forearm, you have much better options. Comment below if you want us to make videos showing you those better upper body and arm exercises.[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z7HQjlbFzKM&feature=share&list=PLkNW77Cz_XKGdRnYXJn9V7TfuVH-Zbs-X[/youtube]
We must, we must, we must build up our bust.
For fear, for fear, we won’t fill our brassiere.
Who recognizes that ditty from grade school PE? Did you also have to chant those words while doing chest squeezes, bust builders, or whatever you called them? As an adult have you tried standing pec work with free weights in your hands to strengthen your chest? One problem: the resistance factor is all wonky so there’s no significant pectoral work. All this exercise does is stress your shoulder joint.
Don’t use this fire hydrant to put out any hot hiney flames! This so-called leg & butt exercise (it isn’t) is a useless exercise unless you want your hip to hurt. Mostly you are getting external hip rotation joint action, which has some value but not as a great glute move. You can do so many other, better exercises for your legs, and tush that don’t depend on low resistance, high repetition wafting through the air.[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0dSQubp4zB4&feature=share&list=PLkNW77Cz_XKGdRnYXJn9V7TfuVH-Zbs-X[/youtube]
Click to see more exercises that DON’T work in our YouTube Playlist: Exercise No No’s – Funny, Useless, Parodies and Otherwise
To see exercises that DO work, take a look at a few of our other YouTube Playlists:
Right and Wrong Way to do Exercises
Get Better Posture and Spinal Alignment
Healthy Aging Exercises for Women Over 45
End 2012 with action that will propel you into a more fit 2013: Subscribe now to our YouTube channel and blog. Please also follow us on Twitter: AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit. Click now on the icons above or below. We make it easy to share and subscribe!
I brought along my 15 year old son. By definition, he does not drive. I hate driving. But I do like traveling. And saving money on airfare. My solution: make lots of stops to get out of the car and take photos with my new iPhone. Yup, oddly enough, having Instagram (an app that lets you take photos and send them out via social media immediately) motivated me to get out of the car and move.
Any time we spotted a viewpoint or something interesting along the road (yeah, Hwys. 15 and 70 are both major interstates with shoulders just wide enough for me to pull over and not get “whoomped” by the draft of 18-wheelers passing by), I’d
careen carefully pull over to the side of the freeway, get out and take some pics. I even took my poor, long-suffering kid on a few short hikes, trying to get the “best” shot. FYI, I am not actually a photographer, I was just determined to get my kid moving.
There has been so much research lately about the detrimental effects of sitting too long that I wanted to be sure and move, both while on the road and at the conference.
I also wanted to be sure and eat healthfully, as good eating habits sometimes get tossed out the window (along with fast-food trash) during road trips.
See for yourself whether I met my movement and food goals.
If you read our post “Lose 2 Pounds in 2 Days,” or our other conference-related post “3 Excuses You Can Use When Mountain Hiking,” then you already know that we went to the conference to speak about blogging and learn about the latest research in the health & fitness field. The attendees were a combination of fitness industry pros and enthusiasts; what we all had in common was our love of fitness and social media. And food. Um, yeah! Food!
This is the section where I tell you about the amazing brands that sponsored the conference (and my fabulous fashion choices). I say “amazing” because they treated us extremely well. Not just well; extremely well.
Anschutz Health & Wellness Center
Cherry Marketing Institute
Love Grown Granola
Western Dairy Association
Quebec Maple Syrup
Better Whey of Life
Black Jacket: Qignition
Presentation pink outfit: Aventura Clothing
Orange backpack/ purse: Overland Equipment
Totally comfy wicking socks for the hikes: Goodhew
Hat that protected me from the sun and sweat: Headsweats
Fabulously awesome, fit body: My parents (no link haha, although you can see our mom in this posture video)
Disclaimer: Thank you to Refuel with Chocolate Milk for providing us with a scholarship for the conference registration, and to FitFluential for making it possible for us to be panel speakers and moderators. All opinions, silly faces and poorly lit pictures are my own!
As our parents (and grandparents) age, they tend to lose a lot of their strength, mobility and balance. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Sarcopenia (progressive decline in skeletal muscle mass…that may lead to decreased strength and functionality) is common among older adults, but exercise can help prevent muscle wasting (yup, the article in the link is by OUR Alexandra).
In honor of Father’s Day, and all fathers (mothers can do this workout too) who need more strength and mobility, we have created a functional, achievable mini-workout. Have your favorite fairly inactive older adult try it and let us know how it goes![youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ordMc5oBDM[/youtube]
Cardio: 10 minutes
* Lower body – foot movement
* Upper body – arms and torso movement
If you use music, 150-160 bpm is ideal for really working up a sweat in this seated workout
* Sit to Stand – 10 reps – leg & core strength
* Wall Push-ups – 10-15 reps – upper body & core strength
* One- arm reach and rotate – 10 on each side – core strength, flexibility and balance
Heck, why not try it out yourself? It’s effective! May all our dads be around to enjoy good health for many years!
Clothing: Top by YMX Yellowman
Workout pants by Nike
Hiking/ Running shoes by Vasque Footwear
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
The kneeling core move has you on your knees, but not begging for forgiveness! Everywhere a belt would touch is where you’ll have to contract. When you do this move correctly, you will feel your abs engaging and working for sure. Done right, your glutes stay pushed forward and contracted throughout.
Our short video shows both the right and wrong way to get the most from the Kneeling Core Move.
The tricky thing about this core exercise is that it’s easy to do wrong. So we recommend using a mirror the first few times you try it. You will think you are hinging at the floor, yet may be be actually hinging along the spine (bending at waist or hips, tipping at shoulders).
If you feel off-balance, you’re probably doing it right. If your behind sticks out, you are doing it wrong and will get zero abs benefit. You will improve your hula hooping though! If the Kneeling Core Move seems easy, check your form or have someone check it for you. (After you both watch the video of course).
Then you’ll have More More More, How Do You Like It? More more more CORE core core! Sing along with us now.
Try this exercise both clockwise and counterclockwise and let us know what you think in the comments below! We also hope you subscribe to our YouTube channel.