My Tales of the Unexpected posts are things I’ve noticed that have taken me by surprise. Because my adventures are all about challenging what it means to be a post-menopausal woman in her 50s, and about challenging the narrative that often goes with this stage in life (‘in decline’, ‘the Bagpuss years’ – actually, that’s not part of the standard narrative, but it captures it well 🙂 , ‘past your sell-by date’, ‘old’), I’ve started to ask myself the following questions both when I’m adventuring and when I’m engaging with everyday life:
How old do you feel right now?
What makes you say that?
It’s a very long time since I’ve trained in a gym, and a CrossFit gym (called a ‘box’) isn’t really like a regular gym. First of all, there are no mirrors (and for most members, as far as I can tell, the ‘body beautiful’ is not the primary aim)! Secondly, boxes are very community oriented: the focus isn’t on who you can beat, but rather on how you can support the development of yourself and others. If you’re in competition with anyone, it’s only yourself. Thirdly, when you train in a CrossFit box, you’re all in it together: you all do the same workout no matter how old you are or how fit you are. That workout can be scaled so that everyone can do it; scaling is a great leveller. Everyone can ‘be on the pitch’. Everyone gets to play. No one is left on the bench. It kind of makes biological age irrelevant.
When I asked myself how old I feel in the CrossFit box, the answer was surprising but also familiar. When I was a lot younger, I used to feel ‘out of time’ when I was training and when I was in good physical condition. Feeling ‘ageless’ is in the same bracket, for me, as ‘out of time’. When I’m not in good physical condition, I often use the phrase ‘I feel mortal again.’ I know lots of athletes who get the whole mortal thing!
I think it’s really healthy to be in an environment where all ages can mix and build strong connections. I love that I don’t get treated differently to younger athletes. I love that I go to the gym and can focus on training – and I’m encouraged to train hard and to train intelligently and to try new things- and that no one is ‘minding the gap’.
I wonder what the psychosomatic impact might be of experiencing myself as ‘ageless’, ‘out of time’? Somehow, I think it’s going to help my adventures …. Somehow, I think unexpected things are bound to happen … And somehow, I think my Bagpuss years are not upon me quite yet!
I’m just going outside and may be some time.