I’m in a different Grandpa place than I was a number of weeks ago. I am now grandpa to TWO grandchildren. Aubrey was born three months ago. Her brother Christian is now a full two-and-a-half years old. By the time Aubrey is moving enough for more interactive play, I’ll have quite the spread of movement and activities to contend with when we visit. I’d better keep up those crawling skills!
During our most recent visit, Christian’s main new thing was slides. We went to the playground and he was fully willing and capable to climb up the curvy bars to the slide platform and slide down on his own, self-cheering, “I did that!” He also offered consistent encouragement of, “Grandpa, come! Grandpa, you do it!” One of the best parts of the experience was Christian’s mantra of, “climb, climb, climb, climb” as he moved his hands and feet from bar to bar to get up to the slide platform. Way to encourage yourself on, little man!
At five feet, five inches tall, and pretty limber, I can handle the children-sized scale of the various apparatus. I like to think that even if I were a foot taller, I would want the body control and mobility to be able to follow along. I realize that would be more of a (pun alert) tall order, and still perfectly possible with the proper preparation.
Does a grandpa have to be able to do the things a grandchild does? Of course not. I do think it’s cool if one can, for as long as one can. For me, it gives a reason to train, and perhaps a main reason because it ends up covering a lot of fitness bases. Strength? Check. Body control? Check. Mobility and flexibility? Check. Balance? Check. Endurance? Check. Looking better naked isn’t in that list, but with a little eating self-control, that’s partially checked, I think. My wife telling me that I look pretty good for someone my age is a combination of encouraging and cringe-worthy.
Once I turned sixty years old, I became paranoid about the age-related muscle loss that older guys experience. I even bemoaned the lack of muscle I developed over my life, because when you’re older, if you have it, you can work to keep it. If you don’t have it, it’s really hard to get it. I was determined to focus on building some muscle as long as I could, to orient my training to make that my top priority.
And I simply haven’t done that.
Why? Because of my bucket list. “What’s your bucket list?” you ask. It’s a bit of what I iterated above: Strength. Body control. Mobility. Flexibility. Balance. Endurance. Particularly since I still work, which limits my available time, and also because of my reduced ability to recover, if I want to work on on a variety of qualities, I can’t focus too heavily on any single one of them. If I were to consistently work on muscle development — and consistency is key in training — I would be primarily doing just that. It would be the priority. And priority means one thing. Literally, it means, “One thing.” And I have multiple buckets.
To be the grandpa I want to be, I need strength. I need body control. I need mobility. I need joints that work well. I need some skills. To keep up with grandchildren means that I need to fill multiple buckets, not just one. What Christian and Aubrey are working to develop is what I work on. They are my ultimate coaches.
If a main theme in my spiritual life this past year has been to trust, I have also moved to integrate that mindset into my physical movement. I make sure I pour time and effort into my multiple buckets, on some integrated basis, and then trust that the benefits to my body will carry me forward into the next decades. In that trust, the whole “having enough muscle” priority will hopefully be taken care of. (For a take on buckets, see Pat Van Galen’s The Simple 7 Bucket Series.)
Over these past couple of years I’ve come to focus ever-more on the notion of movement rather than exercise, and on the concept of sessions or practice rather than workouts. (Thank you to the folks at GMB Fitness for their emphasis on these and related concepts.) Likewise, I’ve come to appreciate the notion of enjoyment and play in my movement and practice, rather than simply work. If I am going to offer any encouragement at all to other grandpas, it’s first to move. Second, is to move in a variety of ways; fill a few different buckets. Third, it’s to enjoy it. Find what you enjoy. Do what feels like play. Keep moving, enjoy, and trust.
Did I mention that I’ve been toying with the idea of training in Gracie Jiu Jitsu? Crazy, right? My wife says with my work and other commitments I don’t have time. Maybe that means I should be sure I take the time for such a diversion. She also says I’ll get hurt; I don’t think I have a retort to that one. Of course, if Christian or Aubrey ever starts training, well, that will answer that question. My wife, after all, is the one who told me way back when that I had to start Taekwondo so that my son could get into the class. And we know how that turned out. “Grandma! You said I had to. . .” Whether I do or don’t, I’ll keep moving, and keep having fun.