For "Older" Students Considering Karate or Kickboxing (aka take your excuses & put them in the trash)
If you are reading this, I’m betting you are (like me) over 40. If not – you are still welcome to keep reading- it’s not like 40 has a monopolyon feeling aches & pains, but it sure seems to be one of those milestones that has earned a reputation for being a threshold to middle age & all the joy that comes with it.
So – if this caught your eye, it’s probably because you have some old injuries, some arthritis, maybe even put on a few pounds over the years. I have heard so many adults stay, “I’d love to come work out, but I have to get in shape/lose some weight first”. Horsepuckey (keeping it PG here)! The way you get back in shape, the way you lose weight, is by starting a physical activity that interests you – something that will keep you motivated and engaged.
In college, students over a certain age were referred to as "non-traditional", but let me tell you a little something – MOST of the adult students I train with are over 30 – many over 40 (I usually stop asking age at that point). In their 20’s people are often restricted by finances, work/college schedules, social lives, young children etc to train routinely. But once you hit your 30’s & 40’s you need an outlet and can usually carve out a few hours a week – I can think of no better place to spend those hours than in the dojo (but obviously I’m biased).
So here are a few tips for starting classes whether you are ‘coming back’ or brand new!
1.Talk to your doctor (sorry – gotta go there). As with any exercise program, best to get checked out and discuss any medical concerns you may have with your doctor. He or she should be able to help you outline a sensible fitness plan.
2. Contact Sensei Del Ross to discuss what you are looking to get out of karate &/or kickboxing. Let him know about any limitations you have and he will work with you to find alternatives. You are super tight? He can show you techniques to help increase your flexibility. Hip or knee issues? You may find that a front kick works but a round kick doesn’t – that’s okay – you can substitute. No cardio endurance? In the beginning, you may need to take a round ‘off’ by slowing down the pace, we understand. Foot/ankle issues? While class is traditionally barefoot, you may need to wear a brace or special foot gear – that can all be accommodated.
3. Recognize your limitations, set realistic goals. Too many students pressure themselves to be the athlete they were at 20 or are concerned that by modifying a technique that they are ‘wrong’. Nonsense! None of us have the body we had at 20 (some are even better), but that doesn’t mean you can’t achieve strength and physical conditioning. In my late 20’s & early 30’s I trained through 2 pregnancies up to my due dates – gained over 50 lbs & with a giant belly do you think I didn’t have to modify my work out? Of course I did! Now I’m 41 and have all sorts of aches and pains, but I work through them and continue to modify my techniques as needed. Sensei Manuel (Sensei Del Ross’ instructor) was a championship kick-boxer who was later confined to a wheelchair. He continued his study of martial arts by learning and teaching from his chair. Anytime I am feeling too achy/tired/injured to train, I remember that he never stopped and suddenly all my excuses seem trivial. When I put things in perspective, I feel very privileged to have control over my achy limbs and a responsibility to use them to the best of my ability. The only true sin would be to completely quit or never start.
4. Balancing Training and Family. I am including this one only because so many people think of family obligations as a limitation, but it doesn’t need to be. Some parents opt to train with their kids during the children’s karate classes. Others bring older kids to the kickboxing classes. My kids sometimes just sit at the desk and work on homework (or play video games – they are addicted). Smaller kids can color or watch videos. With that being said, carving out a couple hours a week is very realistic & doable for almost everyone. (Side note: we are located next to a wonderful Chinese restaurant/sushi bar – you can order before class, pick up after class – viola – dinner is served on training nights! My family does that once a week).
5. If you are really hesitant about starting a class, come in and check it out. If you are still unsure, consider a few private lessons. While this is not a necessity, it is an option. Maybe you trained before and want a few one on one refresher classes to get you back up to speed or maybe you never trained before and would feel more confident learning some basic moves beforehand. You can contact us to discuss private lessons, but again, this is not necessary, just an option if you are truly concerned about starting off with a regular group class.
6. Don't kid yourself, you will still need to eat a healthy balanced diet. Just thought I'd throw this out there. Karate & kickboxing are both great workouts - you will burn calories and will likely give your metabolism a boost, but you still have to put in the right fuel in to get the most benefit out of training. Eating right will help increase your energy and endurance which leads to better performance in class, and will help you get the best results.
Did I miss anything? Are you still reading this thinking, “Yes, but…” – well let me know! You can also call Sensei Del Ross with your concerns; he has taught students of all ages with various challenges –advanced age, wheelchair bound, hearing impaired, and cognitive disabilities. Anyone that wants to train CAN. It really is that simple.