Fatherhood as an Aging Athlete

Rebecca LubartBlog

Do you remember how you moved at your athletic peak? If you do, chances are you feel a little bit of a blow to your self esteem when you compare that to how you move now. Whether because of kids, career or other priorities, you stopped playing your sport for some time, and your body doesn’t feel like it did when you were younger. While that’s normal, it’s also not all downhill hill from here. It is possible to rebuild and be functional at the level you desire.

One of the things that has changed since you were training for your sport is how top athletes cross train. During this year’s Super Bowl there weren’t videos circulating social media of the Chiefs bench pressing or pushing weighted sleds. There were videos of them on Pilates reformers, cadillacs, and wunda chairs, working on their overall strength and flexibility.

Some people would argue it’s an unrealistic expectation that your body will be the same as it was before children. You have more responsibilities and not enough time to do them all as it is, so making time for yourself is that much more challenging. As any father or parent remembers, the first year of your child’s life, sleep was scarce and you were in survival mode. Despite constantly moving around with your toddler, crawling on the floor with them, bent over stacking blocks or racing cars, you might have taken a break from working out or you did the “best you can do” version which was finding 15 minutes to do a youtube video, hopped on a bike for a quick cycle, or you got some extra steps by taking a longer walk. All of these activities are great for general health, but they’re in no way matching a professional athlete‘s training regimen.

Support, Routine and Training

So what is the aging athlete to do now? You work long hard hours to support your family and you’ve got “tech neck” from staring at your screen all day. You love the idea of picking up a bat, a ball, a racket, but your shoulders, your knees, your back all kind of hurt in one way or another. You’re pretty sure an actual injury would make the game even less fun. We get it because we’ve been there and that’s why building your body from the ground up is such an effective approach.

It sounds funny when you think about the fact that a fundamental exercise in Pilates is learning how to breathe properly because physiologically speaking, if you weren’t breathing, you would be dead. For example, as our student you develop an understanding that the breath is the gateway to more supportive core activation, not over-activating neck and shoulders and finding power in your legs. Much like your kid learning a second language, just because they know the alphabet in english, doesn’t necessarily mean they know the order of another language’s characters. Pilates for the aging athlete is also learning to use your body in new ways and thinking about it in ways you hadn’t thought of before. And like other language skills, it will result in you being able to express yourself fully.

The reason parents and grandparents find so much value in Pilates is because it focuses on strength, flexibility, balance, coordination and posture all at once and the work doesn’t stop as soon as the session is over. You re-teach your body to have supportive muscle memory so you can run a marathon, get on the tennis court, make it all the way through your professional career, and circle back to play with grandkids on the floor. 

Wishing you a Happy Father’s Day!