When we look back at the short talk by John Douillard featured in the last post we find that there is an alternative to the way we’ve learned to train the body as youngsters. When I begin to train with my mouth closed and began to resist efforts that necessitate mouth breathing I’ve found that much simpler exercises suffice. Basic crunches, plank holds, quadrapedal motion and even jumping jacks taken in several small doses over the day can be seen in a profounder light. Maybe in order to support longevity workouts like the following are not only not necessary but perhaps counterproductive.
I’m not saying that the kind of workout Tony Sentmanat is engaging in is bad or poorly designed for his purposes but what I am saying is that it is perhaps not optimal for function in old age. If Tony is able to maintain such high levels of fitness into his middle fifties by continuing such workouts without interruption he would certainly prove himself to be the exception that proves the rule. To do so without significant injury would be nothing short of miraculous. For most of us the period of our life where we can sustain this kind of exercise intensity doesn’t last much past our middle to late 30’s and perhaps only then if we have already reached an elite level of fitness.
I am not an elite athlete nor do I see any elite athletes in my practice so I tend to limit my focus to what “every man or Frau” can conceivably accomplish with consistent application. Yes it’s important to train some of the population to elite levels of strength, speed and agility but I think the true measure of the health of a population is the physical and mental health of its aging population. Is it enough to push up the statistical average lifespan of a population by maintaining a significant portion of the aged on a kind of pharmaceutical “life-support” for two decades or more? Is there an alternative to the absolute negligence that the pharmaceutical age has engendered?
Our main goal is to maintain and optimize physical strength, flexibility, and balance for as long as possible until we reach the end of aging for our particular genetic phenotype. Our second goal is to find a way that we can really ENJOY doing this in a CONISTENT way over probably many decades. This takes a certain mentality and a willingness to be the tortoise rather than the hare. As older people we enjoy a slight advantage. We have seen our body decay, we have a tangible experience of the pain this brings but we have also had the opportunity to develop patience and farsightedness. We should take advantage of this. Many of the things we thought important as young persons have become relatively less or even unimportant and this is actually a help to us in staying focused on the long run. For example, competition; while it may remain important for us to be good enough to be competitive, we may not have a win-at-any-cost attitude we had at 17.
In my personal journey to “Drewdom” I’ve begun, day by day, to reverse engineer the best kind of basketball player I can be. This is essentially a creative process. I then try to break these qualities down in to the simplest kinds of drills and exercises possible so that I can engage in them in a wonderfully consistent way. We’ll look at a couple of them next time.