One. I care less about what I look like as a result of my physical activity than in how I feel and what I can do. It’s not like at 62 years old I’ll be entering any physique competitions. I’d be much more about Senior Games. Or just fun and fulfillment.
Two. Why shouldn’t it be fun? I’m running out of time for fun. When it comes to regular work, I’ve often said, “If it ain’t fun, don’t do it.” Or, if it’s not fun, find or make the fun. I like to be playful. Grandkids are fun. Playful. They bring joy. I’ve been learning from that. For me, staying fit for grandkids should be those things as well. Check out Ginny Maccoll on Instagram; she’s working her butt off day in, day out, and having a blast doing it. She smiles!
Three. I don’t run much, but when I do, I prefer trails to road. If I run more than the occasional 30 sec or 1-2 minute interval of some sort, I want a trail. When I’m on the road anything past two minutes starts to feel like a chore. When I am on the trail, it’s as if I develop a spring that carries me along. Trails help a lot. They’re more fun!
Four. I don’t think that even if I had a body worth showing I would do anything with my shirt off that people would see. Heck I never exercised with my shirt off when I was younger, slimmer, and alone. That’s just me.
Five. If I make my activity and fitness about me — self-preoccupation, self-indulgence, getting attention — it becomes stale, draining, even anxious. If I make it about others, then it is about love, and becomes life-giving, joyous, motivating. Playing with grandchildren, being able to do things for my wife or my mom, being better able to serve students at work during crazy busy camps, inspiring students a bit . . . that’s what my fitness is ultimately for. For me, and even more, beyond me.
Six. I want to stay flexible and mobile. That was an emphasis in my life throughout decades of Taekwondo. I don’t feel good if I find myself regressing in those areas. Even if I want to stay strong as I age, I want to stay supple. Bamboo not oak.
Seven. I imagine the fifteen or twenty excess pounds I carry on my body will keep me from qualifying for American Ninja Warrior. I can live with that. I really should lose five or ten, though. I periodically fret over that.
Eight. Back to taekwondo… it’s the first time in my life I felt like an athlete and discovered my skill. Whenever I’m training in a way that supports that, or is reminiscent of that, I feel better. Training to solely to be stronger, or a little bit bigger, or better-appearing, or to do crazy poses or an impressive movement, ultimately doesn’t do it for me, in isolation at least. JJ gets it; thanks, JJ! (More on that in the very near future.)
Nine. I tend to compare, which has been a tremendous thief of joy in my life. I now look to be inspired by the right people for the right reasons, and to feel like I’ve joined into community with the right people. In those instances there is no comparison; it’s all community, sharing and support. Thank you Kantilal Chiba for being in community with me! I know you’re having fun and training for all the right reasons. You and Spiderman.
Ten. As Bryan Kest notes in one of my favorite yoga videos, “strength builds in increments, flexibility builds in increments.” Even if I am ultimately on a slow decline to becoming fertilizer, I try to maintain patience and acceptance. Regardless of age, writing a novel happens one page at a time.
Eleven. If the rest of my life — work, relationships, spirituality — is in harmony then my physical activity feels in harmony. When I’m unsettled with my physical activity, I know the real work has to happen in my mental-emotional-spiritual realm. With acknowledgement to my Taekwondo Great Grand Master, “The mind and body travel together.”
Twelve. It’s OK to occasionally want to show off, feel good about an accomplishment, share what I’m doing, do a cool party trick. That’s healthy ego. As long as it’s just sometimes and not a constant drive, it’s OK.
Thirteen. I want my movement, and my life for that matter, to contribute to leaving a legacy, of having been of value to others in some way that endures. When it’s only about how I feel or how I end up, then I know I’m going about it wrong. Somehow, it’s got to serve and endure. Right now, that’s with maintaining a presence as an active grandpa to my grandchildren, and in my contributions to my students who are blind. And, maybe, it might also be to nudge a few other grandpas to a bit more wellness and fulfillment via movement.