fitness · Guest Post

On Age Appropriate Activities (Guest Post)

Recently I found myself sweating it out in the gym and thinking to myself “Is HIIT an age-appropriate activity for someone like me (in their mid-forties)?” then I put down the 30lb sandbag and came to my senses; I was actually in the middle of a HIIT workout, and I was killing it.

Let me rewind a little bit. I love lifting weights, I’m not necessarily very strong and I don’t always lift consistently, but its an activity I always come back to when I’m in a fitness slump and it always makes me feel great, both mentally and physically. So naturally I’ve been cross-fit curious and HIIT curious for a number of years. But also scared that just one workout will leave me lying prone and sucking wind.

So when my 30-something neighbour invited me to try F45, a new functional-training HIIT gym that opened around the corner, I decided to finally do it. I’d go slow, I’d lift light and if I hated it I would simply never go back. With a one week free trial there was literally nothing to lose, expect perhaps “face” in front of my younger, fitter, neighbour.

And that’s how I found myself lifting heavier, going harder, and feeling amazing, yet questioning whether I belonged in a studio filled with younger, some much younger, people.

Its something I do now that I’m not as slim or as young as I used to be; whenever I walk into a new gym/restaurant/concert/etc., I check out the crowd; are there many women? What’s the median age? Is the crowd diverse ethnically and in body-shape and size? Are there other grey-hairs in here? Do I fit in? Is it okay for me to be here?

My F45 studio is full of pretty young and pretty fit people and it gets points for diversity of all kinds (thank you Toronto). However, I am definitely among the older folks in class and I’m positive I’m the only woman rocking a head of grey hair. So maybe I’m not exactly the target audience for F45, however, the idea that I shouldn’t be there while I was actually doing the workout seems ludicrous in retrospect but I had a genuine moment of doubt that I can’t shake off.

It’s clear to me now that this self-questioning is a symptom of the whole cultural idea that women have an expiry date and therefore when we reach a certain age or milestone (motherhood, menopause) that it’s no longer okay for us to [fill in the blank]. Wondering if I belonged in a HIIT class was like scolding another woman for wearing a mini skirt after age 40; unfair, arbitrary and sexist.

I choose to do F45 in middle age. I choose to enjoy it, and I choose to not care whether I’m the oldest person in class. If I can do it and I love it, I belong. There’s no age limit on feeling good in your own skin.

Jewel of Toronto is a feminist, fitness enthusiast, MBA living and thriving in Toronto. Her likes include pets, pizza and cool leggings.

12 thoughts on “On Age Appropriate Activities (Guest Post)

  1. I can relate 100% — I am often the only woman in my classes over 50, and I love feeling like my strength can just keep building and building. Thanks for sharing your voice!

  2. Good for you! I appreciate you sharing your thought and process around the idea of being too old for things as women, and I can relate to having had these concerns and questions myself. I’m glad you’re going ahead and doing your thing!

  3. Yay for you and yay for all of us over 40 (and those of us over 50, too) who are killing it, who are showing up and who are working on the goals we want. Thanks so much for the post!

  4. I’ve been doing HIIT classes for a few years – am almost 60 and the people in my classes range from 20s to 70s. I out-lift many people younger than me – and there are plenty who are stronger. Am not the least concerned with whether I am age-appropriate though.

  5. Take up as much space as you want, wherever you want! That’s what I counsel, as a silver-haired 53-yr old who still Swing dances, goes to dance parties, loves Pilates, & hikes in the bush too. Don’t let ANYONE push you to the sidelines, & we must role model how to age positively for all the younger folk suffering from social media delusions 😬😘

      1. Good: I look forward to reading it. Whatever I do now as a woman over 50 with proudly silver hair, I think ‘I’m doing this for the younger women behind me,’ including having proud silver hair (& hence name of my blog too!) 💪🏼😎

  6. It is so surprising to me how young we start getting treated as “old!” In my late thirties, I started to get comments suggesting I should hedge my expectations for myself, as I wasn’t as young as I used to be. What if I couldn’t do it in my younger ages and this was my shot?! I’m so glad I was able to push through the self-doubt and keep testing limits. Good for you for doing that, too! We have to prove to ourselves, and so many others, how wrong those assumptions can be.

    1. I know! The shocking thing for me was that I was the one second guessing myself- talk about self-policing!

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