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Actively Aging with People Your Own Age

Alexandra Williams, MA

Last weekend’s BAM – Bloggers at Midlife conference – was the first time I’ve been around a large group of people my same age since my ten-year high school reunion in the 80s. I enjoy being with people of all ages, yet there is something to be said for spending time with people who have similar concerns, interests, cultural references, histories, fears and joys.

Photo credit to Lori Moreno

Photo credit to Lori Moreno

According to research by the National Center for the Study of Adult Learning and Literacy, “being part of a cohort – a tight-knit, reliable, common-purpose group – is very important in different ways.” Not only were we tight-knit, we were on a mission to squish as many people as possible onto a couch. Sort of like a slumber party, but with a reasonable amount of sleep.

As humans, we strive to create meaning in our lives, which we do by growing, learning and giving. We do these things best when we have connections. Connections with women who both support and challenge me helps me create meaning, especially when I believe those women understand me, or at least have the framework to share a language that leads to understanding.

Kymberly's ABC class students. Photo by Dorothy Salvatori

Kymberly’s ABC class students. Photo by Dorothy Salvatori

Okay, that’s all well and good and counselor-ish, but just like exercise, if it’s not fun, we aren’t going to do it. Speaking of which, our exercise classes for BAM were at 7 a.m. which we discovered was a bit out of the majority of the attendees’ comfort time zone. So now we have a conundrum to solve – how to help midlife women realize that you gain energy for a long day by getting up early to work out. In any case, Kymberly’s Abs, Balance, Core class and my Drums Alive workout were really fun for all who were there, as evidenced by these comments from Candace Karu of Cabot Cheese and Rebecca Olkowski.

picture of Alexandra with drumsticks

We didn’t actually do Drums Alive on the Nissan; we used chairs.

As I’ve aged, I’ve discovered that I’m an outgoing introvert, or maybe an extrovert who likes a lot of “listening and observing” time. While teaching or presenting (we also gave a talk about media kits for bloggers) I am very animated and sociable, yet found that much of my “people enjoyment” came from listening to others’ stories. Are you more of a talker or a listener? I found it extremely satisfying to hear the stories my friends (which was everyone at the conference) shared – stories of loss, powerlessness, poverty, struggle, heartbreak, exhilaration, achievement and reinvention. These stories enabled me to feel part of the “girl gang” as we all have histories that got us to where we are now.

The “In” Group
Do you ever feel like you are on the outside looking at those on the inside? I do sometimes, especially at my job at the university, where every year I’m a year older and the students are still 20. My heart and plans and thoughts and desires all feel young to me, yet sometimes my body reminds me that I’m in my 50s. Sometimes my two boys make me feel old, simply because they are now grown up. I don’t want to be young again, yet certainly don’t see myself as old either. Being around a hundred women my age automatically put me into the “in” group. We were ALL good-looking and effervescent; fashionable and interesting. No-one was dismissed; there was no “outsiders” group. Doesn’t that sound like Friend Utopia?

pic of bowling at Pinewood SocialFriendship
Do you have a good balance of new and long-term friends? As I age, I find it important to make new friends as well as relishing my friendships that go as far back as a half-century. After the conference was over, Kymberly and I were taken on a Nashville sightseeing adventure by good friends we made via social media over the past few years – Kathy of Live the Fine Life, and Brenda (a single redhead from Alabama; hint to single guys). When I was young, I just accepted that everyone I met was my friend. As I aged, that changed, yet I still know when someone JUST IS my friend. I like the freedom age gives me to choose my friends based on nothing more than that I like them.

Nashville CapitolTravel
On that note, you get to see some pictures of downtown Nashville, courtesy of my desire to improve my photography skills. I don’t know if the BAM conference will be in Nashville in 2016, but I do know Nashville has lots to offer. I also know that I’ll be at the conference no matter where it’s held, because – Friends.

pic of Hats Boots sign in Nashvillepic of window at Union Hotel NashvilleUnion Hotel Nashville Lobbypicture of Hatch Printing, Nashvillemosaic entrance Betty Boots, Nashvillewarehouse with crooked windows Money
As Kathy Bates said in Fried Green Tomatoes, “Face it girls, I’m older and have more insurance.” In other words, we have money. And we’ll spend it with brands that acknowledge our existence. The sponsors of the inaugural Bloggers at Midlife conference deserve a shout-out for doing just that.
Support these brands:
Collective Bias
Vibrant Nation
Cabot Cheese
Always Discreet
1010 Park Place
Albertini Int.


Ultimate Baby Boomer Workouts: 7 Key Training Principles

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Radio episode for women over 50 7 training principlesKymberly: Want the Ultimate Baby Boomer Body? Personally I am ok with the “Ixnay on the Bikini, but I’ll Still Wear a One-Piece” Body. To get either version, you’ll need to incorporate 7 important, midlife-specific training principles into your exercise routines. Award-winning master instructor and worldwide fitness expert, Mo Hagan was a recent guest on our Active Aging for Boom Chicka Boomers radio show. Mo’s specific focus on midlife women meant she was able to share the Best Exercises, Workout Programs and Fitness Trends for Women Over 50 .

Maureen Hagan

Mo Hagan feeling and looking Mo’ Bettah in her 50s

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.

Women Over 50 Are Unusual Exercisers in 6 Ways

  1. Ours is the first generation to grow up with exercise continued into our adult years;
  2. Our generation’s attitudes and priorities make it easier for us to train and be trained and to understand the need for intentional exercise;
  3. We have the funds and resources to invest in our well being (that’s the statistical theory, at any rate);
  4. Our age group is one that is proactive and doesn’t take our health for granted;
  5. We desire socialization and camaraderie, with a particular fondness for group exercise. Therefore, we tend to prioritize exercise differently when we are a part of a group or when under a trainer’s leadership;
  6. The downside is that we also tend to fall off or quit being active when life gets chaotic, and caregiving or other family needs pull us away.

So what do we unusual, interesting, unique, and different women need to do to achieve functionally strong and healthy bodies, minds and attitudes?

outdoor training for Alexandra

Alexandra being unique and interesting

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:

7 Training Principles for Women Over 50

1. Increase Intentional Stepping

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!

2. Use Body Weight in a Functional Manner

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.

3. Train to Preserve Back Health

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.

4 .Focus on Posture

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!

5. Engage in “Brain Gym” Movements

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.

Kymberly on log in Yosemite

Defy Gravity AND Train for Good Posture standing, sitting. lying, hovering in midair!

6. Defy Gravity

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.

7. Input Impact to Improve Internal Integrity

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?

pic of TRX plank tuck

When Will This End?

Alexandra: I’ve only got my end in mind.

To really be ahead of the game, try Training Principle Number 8 and 9:

1) Follow us on Google +Alexandra and +Kymberly, on Twitter:  AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit.

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 info@funandfit.org.


Incontinence, Confidence, Group Exercise, and Big-Headed Babies

Alexandra Williams, MA

As part of a Vibrant Influencer Network campaign on behalf of Depend, we are receiving a fee for this post. All the opinions and experiences are our own. Anyway, who would want to steal our opinions and experiences?

pic of TRX plank tuck

A Confident TRX Plank Tuck

We boomers are at the age where we have some questions or issues with incontinence, ranging from mild to interfering! And who wants to live a curtailed life just because we had the temerity to have children??!! And who wants to admit it? But the more we talk and share our stories, the easier it is to find solutions and support.

I gave birth to two big-headed boys in the mid-90s. I have also taught exercise classes since the early 80s and currently teach at a local club and university. At the U, my students love high impact workouts such as kickboxing, sports drills, HIIT, boot camp … well, you get the drill. Jumpy, bouncy workouts.

Thanks to my boys’ big-headed exits from me, I have to cross my legs when I sneeze or cough if I’m standing. But it’s impossible to cross my legs while doing a jumping jack or burpee. Try it and you’ll see what I mean!

I’ve done Kegels for years, but they only work up to a certain point. So I need a back-up plan. Over the years I’ve tried various mini and maxi pads. I modify my moves as well, to avoid a lot of impact. I have no interest in surgery, as that’s too extreme of a choice for me. So when I was contacted to try the Depend for Women underwear with Fit-Flex protection, I said yes, as I’m probably the perfect fit for their target demographic (<—- see what I did there?). Like you (probably), my first reaction was “What?! I’m too young for those. Aren’t those undies for my parents? But I’m pragmatic, and kind of had a mental checklist:

1. I need something so that I can continue to do high impact workouts
2. I have to wear underwear
3. I might as well try something that combines #1 and #2

Total Gym workout at IHRSA

Moving with confidence

So I did end up wearing the undies they sent me for a few of my classes. I definitely felt less worried. Because they are kind of textured like the elastic shirts of the early 70s (wish I had pics from that time), they looked bumpy under my fitness capris. I would love for Kimberly-Clark to come up with a version that’s smooth and shaped like boy shorts. In any case, I folded the top part down, then put a pair of boy shorts over the Fit-Flex undies. That solved it, and I had a smooth line. I think all those layers even gave me a rounder tush! Score!!!!

Depend Protective Undies

Nerdy High Waist that Easily Folds Over

One little bonus is that you can tear them off. Who cares, right? Well, I teach 3 classes in a row two days a week, and only the first two are impact classes. Without time in between the 2nd and 3rd class to completely undress then re-dress, I just tore them off in under 30 seconds. Not in public.

If you want to try a pair of your own, you can request a free sample by clicking the link. If you want to get other women’s opinions, you can watch these videos from Depend.

We’d love to get your comments, suggestions, solutions and opinions. Let us know what works for you.

Follow us on Google +Alexandra and +Kymberly, on Twitter:AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit.


Tune In, Turn Out, Listen Up to Our New Radio Show

Alien Space Twins Spot Trends at Key Health and Wellness Events

Trying the Helix at IHRSAAre you curious what the future holds in the exercise equipment and health world? (Spoiler alert #1–more wearable technology so you can get closer to yourself than a selfie). Wonder what the fitness industry has in store to meet your needs and make you excited to work out? Ready to taste the latest in natural foods and eat more healthfully and deliciously than ever before? Then you’ll enjoy our reports from March Mad Marching through the Natural Products Expo West followed by a romp through the IHRSA fitness trade show and educational sessions Wait for it. Wait for it.

Active Aging Radio ShowSeriously, you’re going to have to wait for it as we have something MORE pressing for you to take advantage of. (Yes, you got exposed to all caps shouting).  Our upgraded, revamped, moved over radio show launches in hours on VoiceAmerica.com!

Voices in Your Head

Why listen to our new show, Active Aging for Boom Chicka Boomers? Do you want to achieve any of the following?:

  • Enhance your fitness
  • Advance your health
  • Lose weight
  • Improve your diet
  • Decrease your midlife aches and pains
  • Gain energy
  • Increase your brain power
  • Find time to exercise
  • Minimize physical effects of aging

Then do MORE than listen in. Call in your questions live at 866-472-5792. (Enter the number into your phone now and get that great feeling of a task well-accomplished). Get Insta-Attention and Immedia-Answers faster than your heart rate after an intense workout. Go to the Health and Wellness Channel at voiceamerica.com Wednesday mornings live.  Hear updated solutions to your health and fitness problems courtesy of our expert guests (and some fine Fun and Fit wit). Our show sponsors are also on our list of “things that make us happy and healthy.” Thank you to CocoaVia, our primary sponsor and Theraderm Clinical Skin Care, both of whom care about baby boomers.

Active Aging on Voice America radio

Listen Live Wednesdays at 8amPDT/ 11am EDT

How Do You Make a Hor-Mone? (if you know this joke, you are a certified midlifer).

Our first episode is entitled Midlife Weight Gain: What Can You Do About Hormones, Menopause, and Menopot? Our kick-off guest is author, biologist, blogger, and certified fitness trainer, Tamara Grand, PhD. She will knock your night sweaty socks off!

Beam Me Up Hottie

Be part of our big debut. But only if you want to be smarter, stronger, slimmer, sexier, healthier, and taller. Or if you want to show your hormones who’s boss. Click on any of the links or images to take a radio wave time travel jump to the show. Into the future – your healthy future!