On Accepting My Age

Every first weekend in April, I and other rowers from all over the world flock to San Diego to race in the Crew Classic ( to kick off the spring rowing season. Now in my forties, this is my 19th year doing battle in eight man shells on Mission Bay. Concurrently, at Baxter Fitness Solutions for Fifty and Beyond, we are participating in the World Erg Challenge.

Erg is short for ergometer, an indoor rowing machine. The members and the employees all compete as a team against other health clubs around the world to row as many meters as possible in a one month period. There are three challenges per year and we usually finish in the top five, our best showing to date being second place.

Unlike some gyms, I encourage my employees to workout on company time. I think it sends a positive message and develops a certain 'esprit de corp'. George works in our Medford location and consistently puts up big meter numbers. During one challenge he rowed just over 300,000 meters. That’s about 180 miles! When I’m not on the water competing with former and current Olympians and National Team guys, I’m doing my damndest to keep up with George. When he’s not working the front desk and greeting members he can be found on the erg or in the back lifting weights. When he is training seriously, as all serious athletes do during a training cycle, he will come in twice a day, double days as we call them, jumping between aerobic and strength workouts. Maybe some would think that excessive. I would disagree. He says it helps him in other facets of his life more profound and rewarding than mere athletic performance. I would agree, as I have seen it.

George has an unassuming and easygoing nature; a quick-draw smile and a hand wave hello; drives a red sports car and is a bit of a chick magnet… Like you, I am starting to hate George. But then you hear the stories about how he is always around to help a neighbor, befriend a stranger in need or that a beautiful blonde wants to move in with him and, like you, I am really starting to hate George.

In spite of my jealousy I succumb to the pleadings of all around me and throw my young buck employee a surprise birthday party at the gym. Members bring in baked goods (rrreaallly good ones), we have coffee and other goodies and all have a grand time and pleasant memories for days to come.

So what is my point? My point is this - we are all athletes in this sport of life, and our performance is relative. We don’t need to, nor should we, gauge our performance against others, as that is usually counter productive. We, individually, need to find what works for us and go forward with that. That’s what I am trying to do and that’s what George does, and he just turned 90 years old. Happy ninetieth, George J

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