…Get off the Bus, Gus
So we already know the Geezer part is easy–stick around awhile and you are one. The question is how do we start having more fun. For example, how do you go from work-focused to fun focused. How do you get a body that spends most of the day sitting at a desk ready for the stresses of vigorous and even dangerous activities. How do you manage the dangers and understand what you are up against.
Most of the answers you’ll find in various articles here, because each sport or activity offers different challenges. Since the site is all about BEING an extreme geezer, most of the articles will include some element of what it takes for older athletes to participate–it’s the reason this site exists. But here’s a basic roadmap:
Work-Focused to Fun-Focused
Life is not a rehearsal. There is no guarantee that your patience in keeping your head down and doing your job is going to pay off in the long run with the time and money you need to go play. The answer is pretty simple–play now. That doesn’t mean quit your job and move to Fiji, though it certainly is an option. It means figure out what YOU want to do for fun and start working towards that. For example, you might be working out every morning five days a week. What’s that for? If the answer is just “fitness” then no wonder you call it WORKING out. You need a goal that sounds GREAT to you, that you can think about when the time you’re taking and the effort you’re making just seems like too much. Make the time to work towards the fun goals, and make the goal fun-focused.
Suppose you want to learn to stand up paddle surf in big waves. you can start focusing your workouts on core exercises, shoulder and arm strength, and balance. Instead of working out five days a week maybe you work out three and swim two. Believe me, if you’re going to surf big waves you want your swimming tuned up. Go buy a standup board and paddle and spend time on the weekends or after work paddling whatever body of water you have near you. It’s great exercise, great balance training, and it’s focused right on what you want to do.
Make a Plan
The difference between being a kid and being an Xtreme Geezer isn’t what you’re able to do–if snowboarding a half-pipe looks like a blast to you, then it’s a worthy goal. But a kid will just jump in and do it. If they screw up, they’ll heal. As a Geezer you have different resources and you can take a smarter path to wind up at the same place. The difference is that you know injuries never heal. They come back to plague you years and decades later. You can start taking yoga to improve flexibility and doing pliometrics to improve your spring. You can take lessons from an expert who can bring you along in rational, progressive steps. And you can get the right equipment to make the effort more fruitful and less dangerous. In other words you can be smart and have a plan.
Get Off The Tour Bus
We use the “Tour Bus” as a metaphor for watching instead of doing. Television is the ultimate tour bus. Burns vast amounts of time with no return. I started using the term after my wife and I saw a vigorous-looking guy get off the Tour Bus at the Ho’okipa beach outlook in Maui and gaze at the surfers. I was glassing the waves to decide where I was going to surf. He turned to me and said “looks like fun, doesn’t it”. I said “It is fun, I’m going to go do it”. He looked at me skeptically, since I was clearly at least ten years older than him and quite a few pounds heavier. “We’re too old for that” he said, and he turned and walked back to the bus.
Not me, buddy, not me.
We’re going to assume throughout the site that you have financial resources. I apologize for the impoliteness is that’s not true, but in general, people have more disposable income in their fifties than they do in their thirties. Take advantage of that and use some cash to buy expertise. You could paddle an outrigger canoe for ten years and all you might do is solidify the bad habits you formed the first few weeks. A good coach will show you proper form, which reduces injuries (VERY important for Geezers) and then move you along far faster than you ever could progress on your own.
I paddled Stand Up boards for four years before I took some lessons from Dave Kalama on paddle technique. I was basically doing EVERYTHING wrong. It’s a year later and I still fall into my crappy technique when I get tired or lose concentration, even though the proper technique increases my speed, decreases effort, and protects my muscles, joints and fragile shoulders.
Remember to Have Fun
It’s what it’s all about. If you get bored with the activities you choose, pick another. go through the same process–Focus, Plan, Take Lessons, Jump in. No point in continuing to do something FOR fun that no longer IS fun.