A 92-Year-Old Who Planks Every. Single. Day.

Now what's your excuse?

My grandfather. Yep. He just turned 92-Years-Young and is the personal training rockstar client of his retirement community. I interviewed him last week on his workout routine and advice for all you youngin's out there. The New York Times recently published an article on how strong legs = a strong mind. His answers are proof that the mind / body connection is crucial if we want to age gracefully. Cross-word puzzles are not the only answer! 

So without further adieu, I introduce to you, my witty, smart, sharp and super-fit Grandfather. I am simply in awe. And so proud to be a trainer myself!

Me: Grandpa, what does your typical weekly fitness routine look like?

Gpa: I see my personal trainer two times a week for 30 minutes. I play nine holes of golf, twice. And I do 30 minutes of my "personal training" homework exercises every morning as soon as I wake up. 

Me: Wow, when did you start this routine?

Gpa: It all started my 85th year.  I went to a trainer for the first time. She was also a yoga teacher. That yoga teacher taught me "The Art of Breathing" which I had never heard of before in my life. It became apparent that I never knew how to breathe in my entire life. The deep breathing and art of breathing is to make you aware of your body and what it's going through. When I was growing up, I was never a collegiate athlete and had problems swimming. I was never taught to breathe. You have to have oxygen in your muscle to be able to use your muscles.  

 My mom snapped this photo last week in Arizona. Nice form Grandpa! 

My mom snapped this photo last week in Arizona. Nice form Grandpa! 

The idea of yoga is to get the feeling of mediation and relaxation. And to recognize when your body is relaxed and when your body is your not relaxed. It's only with the use of yoga and understanding how the breath activates the muscles. 

Me: That's right. So you learned how to breathe correctly at age 85? A lot of people have a tough time breathing when they're younger and think it's "too late" to learn something new. I'm a terrible breather and know I need to work on it. How did you have the patience?

Gpa: Yes, learning took a lot of patience. I was lucky to have really good teachers who taught me patterns on how to breathe that made sense to me. You have to practice breathing, to coordinate the movement breathing in and out. You must practice this in your everyday activity, for example, deep breathing when you walk down the corridor. Breathe as you step. This allows you to take longer steps and have better balance. 

I used to do very simple things in life, - like trying to screw something in to a wall, thread a needle or make the bed - and I would hold my breath. When things didn't go right, I got frustrated. In normal activity, when we run in to stressful situation, we hold our breath. I found out you don't have control over your muscles or your mind when your breathing is off. 

 Christmas 2014 in Arizona, when I first asked my Grandpa to be featured in my blog. He's only gotten stronger since then! Oh and he reads the WSJ every day too, brains. 

Christmas 2014 in Arizona, when I first asked my Grandpa to be featured in my blog. He's only gotten stronger since then! Oh and he reads the WSJ every day too, brains. 

Me: It's also proven that flooding your body with oxygen, through breathing and eating dark leafy vegetables, can fight off cancer and disease. Cancer cannot thrive in a heavily oxygenated environment. 

Gpa: I didn't know that, but that makes sense. They also proved to me when they were taking my blood pressure - you can lower your blood pressure 8 to 10 points by deep breathing for a few minutes. I take deep breaths when I'm relaxing at night. You don't want to be tense all the time. When you're tense all the time, you can't make good decisions. 

Me: Back to training! What type of exercises do you do with your Personal Trainer? 

Gpa: We do the machines. She said she's actually increased the weight over the last 7 years. So I've been getting stronger, especially in my core and back. I don't walk hunched over like the other people around here. We also walk the tightrope and do balancing. I sit on the big ball, we take hand weights (8lbs) and do single arm and double arm lifts for 10 reps. We also have a step stool and I have to touch my left toe while standing on the step. That's hard. 

Me: And what about the Personal Training homework you do every single day? That's a Personal Trainer's dream!

Gpa: They've given me a group of exercises, I do every morning for 30 minutes on my own:

  • I roll a little six inch ball around on my back (for my readers, this is self-myofascial release)
  • 20 sit-ups with the ball
  • Lie on my back and pull my legs up to my chest, 21 times
  • Hip bridges for 12 times. Then I hold the hip bridge for 20 seconds
  • Lie on one side and do clamshells, where I raise up one leg, do on both sides
  • Lie on my back and do deadbugs core exercise for 21 times
  • Plank for 30 breaths
  • Sit in chair. Hold my hands on my waist and bend back as far as I can
  • Elastic band I stretch out in front of me and I do that 12 times on each side
  • Roll on my stomach and do cobra / upward dog for 5 minutes. Since I don't know how to time 5 minutes (how sweet), I count to 100 breathes by counting to 10 on my fingers, 10 times

Me: (Hello clients, some of these sound familiar?! I was psyched to hear my Grandfather was rocking some of my favorite moves: hip bridges, deadbugs, PLANK and modified foam rolling). 

Me to Gpa: Really impressive Grandpa! How do you force yourself to do these every morning? Don't you sometimes just want to skip them and get on with your day? 

Gpa: I kick myself in the rear. Just say you gotta do it. It's part of my getting up routine. There's not many people who can get off the floor at my age. 

Me: You've always been active playing golf, walking the golf course, and doing countless handyman chores around the house, but on the personal training side, do you wish you started earlier? And what advice do you have for me and my blog readers and my clients?

Gpa: Yes, wish I had started training earlier. People are scared of the weight machines. They don't get benefit of it if they don't have knowledge and don't know what they're doing. You've got to work with someone 1 on 1. It's so important. Most of the personal training session is not rep counting. What you gain from personal training is the conversation, the discourse and the education. You have questions and the trainer answers them. 

And the breathing -- breathing is everything for well-being, for your balance, and all the exercises you do. The breathing will stay with you beyond the the 30 minute personal training sessions, twice a week.

I can personally vouch for the satisfaction I've gotten from training and breathing, "even if it only added 10 years to my life." 

Me: I'm so impressed Grandpa, so impressed. I love you!

Me to YOU: How about that for inspiration this holiday season? As he said, not many people can get off the floor at his age, and he's holding the plank for 30 breathes every single day. Now what can you do today to kick it up a notch? Inspire you friends, your family and most importantly, yourself! 

How about challenge one of your family members to a plank competition this Holiday? On your mark, get, set, BREATHE! 

Happy Thanksgiving loves! I'm off to Ohio and so excited. Football, laughs, yummy food, planks, brisk walks and Buckeyes!