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Old 12-14-2010, 07:39 PM   #1
Adam Hesch
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CrossFit Seniors

Hi All - open question - what are your thoughts about the possible creation of CrossFit Seniors program?

The topic started this past weekend at the CFJSS: Rock Climbing event in Atlanta (trying to get in touch with Rosemary Kelly, who posed the question, no luck so far...)

I love 99% of our culture - but I resent the way we treat our seniors. We throw them into retirement homes or senior citizens centers and then driveaway to our "more important" commitments. If you go to Vegas - you will see truckloads of senior citizens being taken from the retirement homes to the casinos. (I am being literal.) To gamble. and drink. and gamble. It makes me so sad to see that, the disconnect in our society. I have a certain appreciation for the cultures where 4 generations live in one house - it shows that EVERY one is loved, that every one is accepted, that they are all cherished (sounds a bit like your local box, right? thanks scalability!)

When Greg Mortenson, author of 3 Cups of Tea (required reading for USMC Special Operations students/trainees, incidentally - about his story building schools in Afghanistan/Pakistan since the 90's) speaks in person, he points to the disconnect between the elders and the youth of that country as being one of the primary causes of the insurgency (as a result of the Taliban replacing the old mullahs with their radicalized ones).

A friend was coaching a lady in her 90's last year.. deadlifting a text book... 1 set of stairs for time....Her PR's were his FB statuses, and we all followed her program, and cheered her on until she passed away last year. For only knowing her via a series of FB statuses, it was really powerful and inspiring and I wish there was more of this.

CrossFit is about overcoming challenges, it is about functionality, it is about growth, it is about never giving up, it is about community - and seniors need these as much as we all do. Senior citizens are the gold of our society and we've completely forgotten that.

thoughts/suggestions/potential difficulties/possible benefits/implementation or training ideas? please share, and someday this could be a reality.
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Last edited by Adam Hesch : 12-14-2010 at 08:02 PM.
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Old 12-15-2010, 07:35 AM   #2
Tony Young
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Re: CrossFit Seniors

Adam,
I love your passion and commitment. I feel, however, the idea of a formal CF Seniors program is misplaced.

I'm assuming we're talking about a program similar to CF Kids but for elders. If I'm wrong in that, stop reading here.

A senior specific program does the opposite of what we (or at least I) want to do with CF and that's build community. It separates a portion of the population based solely on age. Kids have short attention spans. They are developing physical and mental abilities. They are not just short adults. Old folks (that's me, by the way) are most often merely un or detrained and WOD's can simply be scaled and modified appropriately within the normal class structure. If a specific athlete needs 1-on-1 or movement-specific remediation, give it to them, regardless of age.

I'd, frankly, be ****ed if you shuttled me off with the rest of the oldsters just because I'm grey headed and a little slower than your "firebreathers" (don't get me started).

It's lazy, thoughtless and elitist to exclude capable athletes from the rest of your community. What your older clients lack in physical ability they more than return in life experience, wisdom, insight and inspiration.

Don't exclude your older athletes, use them!
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Old 12-15-2010, 09:58 AM   #3
Shannon Mullens
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Re: CrossFit Seniors

Well. Maybe that's your culture that relegates your elders to the old folks' home, but that's certainly not mine. I know it happens, but it didn't happen to my grandparents, and it won't happen to my parents either.

That being said, I have a couple of opinions.

1) It would be cool to see a group of seniors for a special Crossfit Seniors lesson, because you could get groups of them together.

2) It would be COOLER to see a group of seniors join a regular Crossfit lesson, scaled to their abilities, mixed in with firebreathers and regular joes alike. And more inspiring too. Grandpa can get through his WOD regularly, I guess I'd better do the same!
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Old 12-15-2010, 12:52 PM   #4
Sean Dunston
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Re: CrossFit Seniors

Coach B does CF (he said so on the recent CFJ video - and he frequently posts his WODs as his FB status)... I don't know how old he is, but I'm guessing in his late 50s or early 60s.
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Old 12-15-2010, 01:14 PM   #5
Casey Raiford
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Re: CrossFit Seniors

I'd love for my in-laws and 80 year old mother to do CF. Needless to say it would have to be extremely scaled; but I believe that the increased mobility and range of motion would profoundly change their lives for the better.

I would of course not even briefly consider training them myself.
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Old 12-15-2010, 01:15 PM   #6
Katherine Derbyshire
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Re: CrossFit Seniors

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shannon Mullens View Post
2) It would be COOLER to see a group of seniors join a regular Crossfit lesson, scaled to their abilities, mixed in with firebreathers and regular joes alike. And more inspiring too. Grandpa can get through his WOD regularly, I guess I'd better do the same!
At our box, Grandma DL'ed 200# the other day, and Grandpa beats many of the kids on most WODs. I suspect they'd both be pretty insulted by any alternative *other* than our regular classes. More generally, I know quite a few people who are very offended by the idea that their age is somehow the most important part of their identity.

With that said, I think there's definitely value in teaching CF coaches about the particular strength and mobility issues associated with aging, and about appropriate scaling for people (of any age) who are less capable for whatever reason. There's a whole group of people out there who are poorly served by traditional gyms, but too fit for the physical therapy model. I just don't know if "Crossfit Seniors" would go over well with the group you're trying to help.

Katherine
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Old 12-15-2010, 01:42 PM   #7
Sean Dunston
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Re: CrossFit Seniors

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Originally Posted by Casey Raiford View Post
I would of course not even briefly consider training them myself.
no doubt!

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Old 12-21-2010, 07:44 AM   #8
Adam Hesch
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Re: CrossFit Seniors

Tony - I agree with you 100% on the need to build community, and you hit the nail on the head when you said "What your older clients lack in physical ability they more than return in life experience, wisdom, insight, and inspiration." Those are the benefits that would surely show during the post-WOD spontaneous discussions that tend to spring up at boxes.

Shannon - I meant to say it's a feature of our culture in general, not my family personally (gratefully). Agreed 100% with your #1 and #2 comments.

Katherine - I wish more grandparents were like that! That is great.

I guess my concern is building community while at the same time addressing some of the specific and particular needs that SOME seniors might have, specifically with regards to mobility, and I'm just not sure all Level 1 trainers are necessarily equipped to do that (having just gotten my cert this weekend, and seeing Casey's and Sean's comments).

Maybe instead of CrossFit Seniors - maybe just a CrossFit Seniors cert, where the attendees are just taught how to address the specific needs of CF Seniors with mobility issues - that way they're empowered to help Seniors looking to join the regular WOD.

I appreciate y'alls feedback and hope that as CF grows that people of ALL ages are able to benefit from it - I believe they will.
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Old 12-23-2010, 12:23 PM   #9
Bill Houghton
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Re: CrossFit Seniors

Adam,

FWIW: I am 53 and my clientele is tending to the senior side, 80 currently the oldest with his wife being 79. We work a lot on mobility. I have made the goal of our affiliate 1) constant learning/improving/ah-ha experiences because it is fun and inspiring 2) Functional movements of course, wods, etc... and 3) movement and mobility work.

Take the Kelly Starrett seminar. I have been a chiropractor for 25 years and I rank Kelly as genius. You won't find a more useful, jam packed source of info out there on movemet, mobility, recovery and performance than Kelly.
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Old 12-23-2010, 01:55 PM   #10
Steve Rakow
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Re: CrossFit Seniors

We have several classes where the age ranges from 78 down to 24. Isn't a problem with scaling to ability, needs, etc. In fact, about the only thing that's ever been a wedge between young and old is the music that's played.

I remember at the last FilFest, there was a presentation about starting up a program for elders. When I finally realized they were talking about us over 40 folks, I got ****ed! I'm only 45 and in better shape now than when I was thirty. No one likes to be classified as old, senior, elderly, etc.

Yes, are the needs of some elderly greater than others? Yes, but so are the disabled, obese, mentally handicapped, etc. At what point we focus on a particular group depends, in part, on what the needs of your local community might be. I think that if you address the needs of a particular sub-group of CrossFitters (i.e. seniors) in your area and share the results with the rest of us, we can use what works in our own boxes. Beyond that, I think that the CrossFit principles apply regardless of age, ability, and the like. It's all in how you coach it.
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