I guarantee YOU, you’re NOT Stretching enough

written by john c ashworth

People still come to me for fitness advice and conversation. I’m a full-time salesman and marketing maniac now, but for the first twenty-plus years of my career, I was a clinical exercise physiologist, personal trainer, health coach and fitness expert. Before that, I was an all-american soccer player and high-level athlete. I have a little experience with this stuff. Today, I call myself a bohemian athlete.

Many of us experience back pain in a variety of formats. Especially right now as I’m writing this, and we are sequestered in our homes in the fight to stop the spread of covid-19, we are spending a lot of time sitting and being sedentary. More than usual. When we do this, our bodies not only get tight, but our chakras get locked-up and energy stops flowing freely.

You can probably feel it right now. Some area of your body that is bothering you in some way. Your back. Your neck. Your Shoulder girdle. Your hips. Your knees. You pick the spot and it’s OK to choose more than one 🙂

For me this morning, it’s some of the usual stuff I feel when I haven’t been able to get to the pool often enough. Along with a new thing I’ve been nursing along in my neck and right shoulder. All of which is manageable if I choose to stretch enough throughout the day, instead of ignoring it and spending a lot of excess mental energy trying to work through it and hope it goes away. Hope is NOT a strategy.

I’ve got news for you…it’s probably not going to go away unless you choose to do something about it. And one of the most transformative actions you can take on a daily basis is to stretch your hamstrings. In years of training people and working with them on their fitness, this axiom held true over and over again. Almost everyone experiences back pain and for many of us there is a simple solution. Stretch your hamstrings. YES! I’m also saying that you should stretch more often in general, but I also know from years of working with people in this way, that this blanket recommendation will do almost nothing to change your behavior and get you to take action. But if I say instead, “Just spend 5 minutes three times a day stretching your hamstrings.” Well, now that seems more doable, doesn’t it? And the reason I almost always start with this is twofold…

First, you will almost certainly be amazed at how this transforms not just your back pain but your body’t energy flow and your mental state every day. It really can have a meaningful impact in a very short amount of time and very often, almost immediately.

Second, if you can’t even implement this one simple strategy that takes just 15 minutes a day, then you’re not ready or willing to adopt the mindset of the bohemian athlete and I’m not willing to waste any more of my time with you.

OK, go! And if you want, feel free to report back to me here or on facebook with the results.

-John

PS When I turned 30, my body was beginning to seize-up as a result of years of abuse on the soccer field. That was when I discovered yoga and the cathartic and transformative effects of regular stretching. Call it yoga or stretching or whatever you want. Call it old school calisthenics if you have to. Just start doing it. Your 5-minute sessions alone might be enough. And once you begin to experience the benefits of this ritual, you’ll likely find just like I did that you will desire more and more.

The most important part of your fitness program

written by john c ashworth

The most important part of your fitness program

As a former fitness coach and personal trainer and currently a fit, healthy fitness over 50 cadre member, people ask me from time to time what it is that I do to keep myself in shape.  

My answer is always begins with a little context.  Because my fitness program is not overly impressive.  I’ve just had it going regularly without fail for thirty plus years now.

“I keep going…”  I say.

“I never stop.  I’ve NEVER stopped.”

How long have YOU been working at it?

Keep going…

Don’t stop.

Look for modes of progression and seek expert advice to aid your quest. A little goes a long way. Especially when you can find a real expert.

I admit it. There’s a lot more to it than just your consistency.  Expert personal fitness program design is an art that finds its roots in science. You and your path are unique and need to be treated as such in order for you to achieve your potential.

Consistency, though…

That’s really the key, because without your regular commitment, no fitness program can produce the results you crave.

Ready?

We start here.

Go!

-John

PS My current fitness program includes all of the following: swimming 5-6 days per week (350-500m). Strength training twice per week. Walking 4-6 days per week (1-3 miles). Walking is sometimes curtailed a bit in the winter and in those times, I swim more. When it snows, my snow removal duties also add to the totals. Just as yard work does in the warmer months. And, of course, right at this very moment, my ability to get to the pool has been thwarted by covid-19, so I’m doing my best to adjust and missing that experience terribly 🙁

Here’s a screenshot from January of 2020. I cleared about 6 inches of snow that day in addition to my swim. I love the apple fitness tracking system. In combination with the Apple watch this tracking system actually provides a lot of useful data and constant feedback if you want it about how well you’re doing with your exercise and activity each day. Will get into that more later.

When you click on the swim workout that was recorded wearing the apple watch in the pool, you get even more specific data and information about your swim, including your average heart rate, which is extremely valuable data and information. Again, I plan to get into more about all of this in future posts about the Apple activity tracking system. I really like it.

swim workout on 011720
There are a number of things I really like about having access to this information for each workout, including average heart rate. An extremely valuable metric to track. -john c ashworth

PPS If I had to choose the second most important part of your fitness program it would be the tracking. In order to build a proper plan for safe and effective progression of your fitness program, you need to keep track of where you’ve been.

Fitness over 50 – How to unlock the wisdom of your body at any age

written by john c ashworth

Fitness Over 50 – how to unlock the wisdom of your body at any age

My wife Laura and I have been talking a lot lately about the adjustments necessary in your fitness program as you get older. Neither of us like the idea of having to decrease our intensity and volume of training, but there are certain realities we all face as we get older.

But here’s the point I want you to pay close attention to today. I don’t have a lot of time to elaborate on it so I’m going to get straight to it…

Laura’s body and her life history is unique. As is my own. As is yours.

Each of us have extremely unique and varied needs when it comes to maintaining our health and fitness as we age. Your fitness program is a complex combination of variables that change from one day, one week, one month to the next depending on a wide variety of factors. Some of which you can control and many of which you cannot.

It is vital that you find a personal trainer and coach who can help you navigate this potentially dangerous territory. Otherwise, you are much like Lewis and Clark – venturing into new territory each and every day with no real clear idea of what might come at you next. Unprepared for the realities you face.

There will be a lot more on this topic over time. You can be sure of that. Just promise me you’ll be careful out there. I see a lot of potential pitfalls for you and I. One in particular stands out in my mind and the image keeps replaying in my mind…

A group of woman over forty and fifty, taking part in an exercise class that seemed totally and completely all wrong for them at their current level of fitness and overall conditioning levels. When you jump in too soon, and go too fast, and don’t take the time to individualize your efforts in a way that properly addresses today’s needs for your body, you are setting yourself up for injury, failure, and set-backs that can last for years to come.

Proper progression and expert guidance will provide a talisman you can hold close for support. A talisman that has nothing to do with fetish and everything to do with the wisdom you will unlock in your body along the way when you do this fitness over 50 thing the right way.

Peace.

-John

fetish: any object, activity, etc, to which one is excessively or irrationally devoted. Syn: fixation, obsession, mania.

[video] How to Double YOUR Energy level this afternoon!

I put this video up on my YouTube channel over the winter, and as I was going through potential drafts for a good blog post today, I thought this might be a good one. My time is limited and I gotta get moving so that I can get to work on time.

There are a few really good insights here if you have the time.

One of the primary bits is the idea of taking time during your lunch hour to go swim.

I started swimming regularly almost 10 years ago now and I’ve been amazed at what this discipline has done for my body, my back, my mind, and my overall strength from head to toe.

I hope you enjoy it!

Have a great day.

-John

This is 80% of the battle for fitness over 50

madison walks in verona wi

written by john c ashworth

Consistency!

Yeah, you probably could argue that this is 80% of the battle at any age. I might agree, and when people ask me what my secret to staying fit has been over the course of my life, the first thing I always say is, “consistency.” I’ve NEVER stopped. Ever! And when I was younger I went after it pretty darn hard. Especially when I was playing soccer at a high level.

When you get to age fifty, though, your margin for error is gone!

You can no longer put it off, and especially if you haven’t been good about getting your exercise and staying fit in the earlier stages of your life, now is the time you must correct this. If you don’t, bad things can happen fast.

I began to notice this reality when I hit the age of 40. Ten years later, the idea is like an old friend.

Today was a great example of the mindset you must adopt if you’re going to stay with it for the long run and stop making excuses.

fitness over 50
“Yes! It was in fact that cold out. Allie wasn’t bothered. She didn’t need a hood :)” -John

You can see from the picture above, that even thought It’s April in Wisconsin, the weather can still be nasty; and over the last week the weather has been hard to accept. Cold, windy, overcast, and just downright miserable at times.

I snapped the photo above of Allie and I earlier this morning. We decided to venture out of the neighborhood and onto a new hiking path. I regretted it almost immediately after stepping out of the car. The wind hit me like a slap in the face, and I almost turned right around and went home to watch the Masters.

Instead, Allie and I toughed it out and though the wind and the cold were still somewhat miserable, we still got a nice walk, and on a new path that was challenging and hilly and perfect for a Sunday morning.

At home now, keeping track of the golf tournament, and getting things done, I’m more awake, my body is loosened-up, my mind is clear and I’m ready to be productive.

It would have been so easy to skip this walk today. And the weather is often an easy scapegoat. Instead, I go it done because I’ve come to rely on it so much. I really can’t live without it. It’s like breathing. Does it feel like that to you, yet?

As I make my way into my fifties I’ve gotten a glimpse of how I must continue to pursue this effort to stay strong, healthy, and ready.

It’s not always easy to maintain this kind of commitment to your fitness program. I get that. That’s why you can now find some kind of fitness offering taunting you in almost every strip mall across America. Has that changed our exercise habit? Not yet, I don’t think.

If you’re struggling to stay consistent, a good coach can help. A good coach, who has experience both personally and professionally in working with those over 50, can really help you identify what’s really important right now for your fitness and how can you take the first step today and then begin building on that momentum. If there was one place I had to choose where people go wrong in their pursuit of fitness, it lies in starting too fast too soon, and in mapping out a careful plan for progression as you become stronger, fitter, and more motivated. Yes, those things go together.

That’s the work I did for twenty plus years with clients until I became a full time salesman and business consultant. If you’re interested in talking about taking advantage of the small amount of coaching time I’ve made available this spring and summer, shoot me an email and we’ll talk. No pressure.

johncashworth(at)gmail.com

You can also always download a copy of my first book on the subject, by clicking here, and becoming a subscriber. I throw it in as a bonus for new subscribers.

-John