There’s a diner in the area that I frequent called StowNut. If you’re ever in the area, you should check it out. It’s a family owned, small town diner that serves breakfast and lunch and closes up for the day by early afternoon. Aside from the warm feeling I get when I go there, the food is always consistently good.
About a year ago, I was on a steady streak of dining there and was getting to know some of the other regulars. After a while, most of them learned that I owned a personal training facility in the area. One day, a gentleman who I was accustomed to seeing asked me a bit about what I did. During our dialogue he asked, “Can you do anything with an old guy like me?” I’m not normally the type to turn down a potential new client unless their goals are far out of reach for my expertise (bodybuilding, sport specific conditioning, etc.) He introduced himself as Dick, but I’ve grown to refer to him by his birth name of Richard. At 75 years old, he had taken a liking to competitive table tennis and felt as if he needed a personal trainer to help with some endurance and balance work.
Initially, we worked on a variety of different things to try and establish a base level of movement patterns and strength capacity. I found he was capable of quite a lot. His knees gave him some problems from time to time so he always wore wraps with me, which still allowed him to move well. After several months of training and some noticeable improvements in the way his body moved he expressed the desire to train more often (from twice a week to three times.) At that time, I started splitting the focus of his training days to one day of more strength work, one day of endurance and agility work, and one day of balance and single-leg movements.
We had been toying with a traplift bar in many of our workouts but not with any particular intention. After he increased his sessions, I started driving the weight up on this lift to see how he handled the stress of it in efforts to watch his overall recovery. Like me, Richard is a small-framed guy. He weighs roughly 142lbs on any given day and our first goal was just to see how comfortably he could pull his bodyweight in the lift. He was able to do that without much difficulty, so each week we would raise the weight depending on how comfortable he felt. As of this writing, he has successfully pulled 215lbs for 3 reps on the lift. He’s now 76 years of age and his body is still recovering well from what we’re doing. In addition, we make sure to keep the stimulation moderate so that he’s not completely taxing his system every time he comes in.
Each week that he hits a new record, I post a short video of him on Facebook so others can see what he’s up to. To say he’s inspiring is an understatement. I have clients who are 20 years his junior who have difficulty moving as well as he does. Not to mention, he’s an incredibly humble guy and remains very diligent about just improving. Over the last couple of months, as the weight of that particular lift has gone up, more people have been asking me if it’s safe for him to do it. It’s a fair question and one that doesn’t have a simple answer.
It’s my professional opinion, that you should challenge the body wherever appropriate if you want a desired response. Heavy becomes a somewhat relative term and it means different things to different people. Richard and I keep a running conversation about what feels good and what doesn’t. As is the case with individuals looking to lose weight, getting stronger doesn’t typically move in a linear fashion. Some days we back things down and some days we scale up. Normally based on how he feels.
What I believe has kept him progressing is a strong willingness to learn, adapt and listen to his body. Do his genetics affect how he performs? You bet. It’s also slightly unfair to use him as a measuring stick for how others should perform. It’s my hope that by others seeing how he moves and how well his body responds as a call to action for themselves as well. Push yourself where you can, expect more out of yourself and progress forward responsibly.
Until then, we at RevFit are going to continue to enjoy watching “King Richard” do great things.
It’s been an honor.