Becoming the FITTEST 75-year-old I Can Be

Traning for AFM Fittest at 75 years old

Okay, what’s a burpee?

A couple of years ago, friends started posting on Facebook that they had done 10 burpees or 15 burpees. None of them were parents of infants at the time, so I didn’t think they meant burping a baby. The only other definition I could come up with related to the Burpee Seed Company, but that association didn't seem to fit either – no flowers, no fertilizer. Soon I overheard people talking about burpees in the context of exercise. Wikipedia and YouTube completed my education—or so I thought, because the exercise looked so hard I planned never to attempt it.

Lo and behold, in yet another departure from good sense, as if a 75-mile bike ride at the Veloway on January 19 and the Austin Fit Magazine Distance Challenge this winter weren't enough, I decided to enter the AFM FITTEST contest, scheduled for June 15, 2013. Burpees will be involved. Gulp!

Why on earth am I entering this contest? Several reasons come to mind. Last spring when I heard about AFM FITTEST, I noticed that the oldest age group was 60+. I wondered why there weren't 70+ and 80+ age groups. I didn’t think that at the age of 74 I could compete with women of 60. I didn't think I would be allowed to enter the contest. I knew I wasn't as fit as I should and could be. Mainly, I was too chicken to consider entering. I thought I would embarrass myself and look ridiculous. (It didn't occur to me that I already look weird. I’m not a natural athlete. My own father called me Tanglefoot. But any excuse to slack is a good excuse!)

Then I read the follow-up story and saw the 2012 results. I couldn't believe that only five men and one woman over 60 competed. Good for them! I was disappointed with everyone else over 60 or 70 or 80. I was disappointed with myself too. After all, I’m one of Austin’s four women in their seventies who still race triathlons, along with two men. Plenty of runners, cyclists, and yoga practitioners are even older. Why not do other feats of fitness as well? ­Where have all the old folks gone? Not to graves and flowers every one. Nationally, more than 13 percent of the U. S. population is over 65. No one chains us to our chairs.

Come on, oldsters of Austin! You have almost five months to train for the event. Maybe all you need is some encouragement. If I can get out there and risk the embarrassment of falling on my face or some other body part, then how about you? Go to the gym. Find a coach. Study the descriptions of the events. Watch the videos. Start training. Above all, don’t let me win my age group by default.

Come on, youngsters and middle-sters of Austin. You can do this. You know you want to. There’s no way on earth you can look any worse than me. Let’s get a community going. Share training tips. Dish about good coaches. Discover good locations for practicing the events. In this blog, I promise to chronicle my failures and triumphs, my fears and joys. Now, about those burpees, who came up with that torture anyway? I want to smack him!

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