When was the last time you didn’t do something because you didn’t think it was for someone your age?
Freedom has nothing to do with age. It doesn’t have an expiry date or a shelf life. It doesn’t fade over time or drift further and further away as the years go by. Freedom is as accessible to you now as it will be to you tomorrow and in ten years’ time. Freedom is timeless. It might not always take the same shape, but it’s always there, waiting for you to grasp it.
Time flies by quickly and all too soon the missed opportunities shine brighter than the ones yet to come. “I’ve missed my chance,” we say to ourselves, “there’s no point even trying anymore”. But age isn’t a barrier out of our control, instead, it’s something we fabricate to justify the loss of what we could have been. We set limitations for life events, because categorizing and demarcating our lives is comfortable and reassuring. Breaking our lives down into manageable chunks and boxes to tick gives us the sense that we’re ‘on track’. However, this track is itself constructed by those who seek reassurance that their lives are ‘normal’, who spend their lives jumping between tightly confined boxes. We’re told that everything we do has a sell by date: college is for the under 25, travelling the world has to be done before you have children, fitness is only for the young. Those who tell us this are the ones who’ve given up. They draw hard lines under life events and tell us that rupturing these lines is somehow unnatural and wrong. They create barriers because barriers are recognizable, comfortable and easy.
What they don’t realize, is that they’re the ones living in ignorance. Age is what you make of it. If you act like you’re old, over the hill and with one foot in the grave, you’ll feel like it too. Our mindsets don’t have to alter just because another year has gone by. We continue to grow, develop and flourish until our final moments, we don’t have to stop just because we’ve crossed some societally prescribed threshold. Age is a barrier to freedom only if you want it to be.
It can be so easy to give in to the passive comfort of age. You’re a single dad the wrong side of 40, a couple whose children have left home or a recent retiree with a history of knee complaints; you’ve seemingly got every right to throw in the towel on fitness, training and self-improvement. It would take little to hail fitness a young man’s game, something for those with the time and energy to engage in. But you’re different. You acknowledge that, yes, you’re growing old, but this doesn’t shape who you are. You know that with age comes experience, both in the boardroom and on the training ground.
Some days, your joints creak more than you’d like and getting out of bed is that little bit more difficult, and you think to yourself, “maybe this is a sign that I should give it all up, maybe I should slow down.” But you know better. You’re all too aware that life is simply too short to spend it constructing excuses for missed opportunities. Better to take every opportunity to improve yourself than to live in regret. By not using your age as an excuse not to exercise, you’re opening the door to freedom, allowing yourself to experience the world in full, not just from the perspective of a someone who’s given up. You know that, whilst you might not have the same opportunities as someone half your age, you have different opportunities. Freedom doesn’t evaporate as we grow old, it simply shapeshifts and evolves.
Age isn’t a finality. Studies have proven that a 70-year-old who engages in regular cardiovascular exercise is in as good a physical condition as a college student with a largely sedentary lifestyle. When we invoke age as an excuse not to exercise, we write off freedom in all its forms, we turn our back on a healthy, active future in favor of a life in which we only look backwards at what we once were, not what we could become. Accepting age as a barrier to fitness is to accept that this is the final version of ourselves, that self-improvement is no longer possible, that we’re satisfied with our lot and content to live the rest of our lives in the claustrophobic confines we’ve carved out for ourselves. This voluntary incarceration is never something we plan for, but, when the time comes, it can seem too comfortable to resist.
Age isn’t just a barrier, an imposing, impenetrable blockade threatening to subvert our goals. No, it’s far worse. Age is a comfortable barrier, it’s an excuse we can continue to invoke because it’s not something we have control over. It’s unavoidable and irreversible, not a switch we can flick when things get too much. Comfort and resignation stop us being free; as long as we’re no longer exploring or developing, we’re trapped and stationary, sinking slowly into the quicksand. To dare yourself to be free of the oppression of age is a bold step, necessitating the rejection of societal norms and of all things comfortable and easy. But it’s entirely necessary. You might think you’re too old, but you never are. With a new viral video of an 80-year-old bodybuilder shared online every day, you’ve really got no excuse for not training because you think you’re “too old for that sh*t”. Let us tell you now; you can never be too old.
When we label age a barrier to fitness, we write off the rest of our lives. As we get older, some doors may close, but even more open. Age need not be a barrier to freedom, but a revolving door. As some opportunities pass their prime, more emerge; the door need never close. Just dare yourself to be free of age as a barrier, and see for yourself.
Try telling us now...are you really too old?