Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Mid-Life Fitness Training: Views From A Middle-Aged Singapore Personal Trainer

It has been almost 3 years since I officially reached and crossed the middle-age point of life (usually defined as being 40 years and above here in Singapore).

Thankfully, I have managed to retain most of my fitness, youthfulness and vigour (I've been told by some quarters that I can still pass myself off as someone in the early 30's or even in the late 20's; and I think my current fitness status is still comparable to someone in the mid-to-late 20s or so) - thanks in a large part to God's grace in my life, the active and rugged fitness lifestyle that I lead, and of course, the good genes that I've inherited from my parents .....

Me - warts and all, coming up to my 43rd birthday in a few months' time

Whatever it is, I'm incredibly thankful that up to now, I'm still in a position to pursue my passion in fitness both in my personal and professional life.

As I continue to look forward to life in my mid-forties and beyond, I can't help but notice that my overall fitness philosophy, perspectives and training approach have all drastically evolved through the years.

From someone who started out dabbling in bodybuilding and resistance training for fun more than two decades ago, to becoming a full-fledged fitness coach dedicated to providing mobile fitness and gym-free fitness to clients in varied and innovative settings, I've seen and experienced my fair share of life experiences in this relatively short fitness journey.

The following are some of my very own personal observations, lessons and experiences that I've learnt in my fitness journey so far:

1) Listening To My Body More

With the additional years clocked in, I've realized that it pays to listen more attentively to the signs and signals that my body sends out to me from time to time; and to tweak my training variables in accordance to how I feel from workout to workout. No longer do I "bash" my body with brute force as if there is no tomorrow, (not that I don't train hard any more, because I still DO. In fact, I still give 100% in intensity in most of my workouts) but I've learned to tamper my exuberance for training with a dose of wisdom, self-control and moderation. Also, rest, recuperation and recovery have become the 3R's that I've truly learnt to embrace and appreciate in my current mid-life situation.

2) Having More Realistic Fitness Goals

With age, I've also learnt to become more realistic with my fitness expectations. Though I still keep myself pretty much in great shape, maintaining a healthy body fat percentage of around 12% - 16% year round, I'm no longer fixated with superficial goals such as: attaining a super-muscular, "for-show-only" physique, or having clearly-defined "6-Pack Abs" just so to impress others, or even aim for unrealistically low body fat percentage (anything less than 10% - which is actually unhealthy in the long run). Fitness to me now - is being in good enough shape to carry out my day-to-day fitness duties effectively and efficiently as a professional fitness trainer and coach in Singapore, while still having a physique that motivates and inspires confidence in my clients.

3) Being More Open-Minded To Various Training Methods

From being someone schooled in bodybuilding philosophy, steeped deep in its culture and practices, and who ardently carried out "isolated muscle-part" training in the earlier part of my life; to become one who embraces and preaches Integrated, All-Round Fitness, I've since learnt the importance of training for TOTAL fitness as opposed to "isolated" fitness. I no longer subscribe to the concept of "building muscle purely for muscle's sake" or "looking good purely for looking good sake". Instead, I've learnt to open my mind to embrace the importance of training for ALL fitness components, elements and attributes. I've also learnt to glean and fuse the best practices of different training methodologies to form my own unique amalgamation of training methods - with COMPLETE fitness in mind. And that's why in my fitness sessions with clients, I've constantly incorporated elements of body-weight drills, athletic movements, plyometrics, gymnastics, kickboxing, and even dance aerobics into training sessions to constantly challenge and push my clients on while helping them to attain their fitness goals. Also, I've learnt the importance of using as many different types of functional training aids (such as medicine balls, suspension trainers, kettlebells etc) in my workouts with clients, to bring about new training responses and results.

4) Greater Empathy For All

With age and experience, I've also gained a deeper understanding of human nature and greater empathy for all the different types of fitness clients who come to me with their respective fitness needs. For instance, I've learnt how to relate better to younger, more fun-loving clients (having worked with kids/teenagers and having 2 of my own), to working with young mothers struggling with post-natal fitness issues (having seen my wife though 2 pregnancies), to empathizing with those struggling with middle-aged weight gain (being in the same mid-life status as them) and even catering to the older adults/senior citizens' fitness needs - many who come to me with their assorted aches, pains and other medical symptoms. Somehow, mid-life does have a miraculous way of opening one's eyes and heart to those around us in a truly fascinating way.

5) Serving As A Motivation And Inspiration

I'm still working on this one, but I certainly hope that my fitness philosophy, approach and lifestyle will strike a chord with those whom I come into contact with, and will allow me to serve as an inspiration and motivation to all even long after I'm gone. Now, more than ever before, I'm absolutely convinced that a Natural, Functional approach to Total Fitness - is THE way to go - regardless whether ones ultimate goal is weight lossbuilding lean muscle mass, optimizing sporting performance or just enhancing general fitness. I look forward to the day when my passion for fitness will eventually rub off on a greater number of people here in Singapore so that more can truly benefit from it.

As a middle-aged personal trainer and fitness coach, I'm more than aware that there is still so much more to learn about life, exercise, fitness and nutrition out there.

And God willing, I will continue to learn and grow - both professionally and personally - as much as I can, for as long as I can.

Do wish me all the best in my fitness and life journey ahead, and all the BEST to each and every one of you too!

Warmest Regards,
Rick Wong
Singapore Fitness Professional
http://www.Body-By-Rick.com