Fit over 70: a senior-friendly gym — poem

Freyberg Pool and Fitness Centre. Senior-friendly and a glorious building. Photo shared from

Freyberg Pool and Fitness Centre. Senior-friendly and a glorious building. Photo shared from

A senior-friendly gym

When you find a senior-friendly gym
knots untangle, locks unclick, chains dissolve.
You’re not a stand-out any more
not a mascot, not a pet
you’re not a source of pride or fear
you can pause without causing alarm
you can shine without hearing a hymn
you are just another human at the gym.

You can do almost anything
but not too long and not too strong.
You prefer to take things slow
and not to flip your head around
and if your thighs are tender
on Saturday and Wednesday
they are mending. So that’s good.

Photo from, poem by Rachel McAlpine CC BY 2.0

22 thoughts on “Fit over 70: a senior-friendly gym — poem

  1. toutparmoi says:

    Good for you indeed! You’ve inspired me to think about going-to-the-gym again.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Cool. Third try lucky for me.

  2. alison41 says:

    I am awed and bow humbly before you. Periodically I drag my unwilling carcass to the gym and trot along on the treadmill. End of story. Press ups? Planks ? Shudder !!!

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      To each her own!

  3. BillGFL says:

    We’ve just moved from too sunny Florida to western VA.. Our apt community has a very nice,clean looking exercise center that seems to be well used by every age – 20 somethings to 80ish. Once I can straighten out after lifting all of these boxes during the move I aim to hobble over to that gym! Thanks for a timely and encouraging post.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      That is good to know.

    2. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Moving makes big demands on the body so treat yours kindly for a while.

  4. You sure rock The Plank — 3 minutes? Wow!

    I enrolled in health club a year ago. Water aquatics class and eliptical machine have healed my knee. Yoga, hikes, biking, x-country skiing sufficed for years, but injured self gardening. Water is Best, my subconscious spoke.

    I was happy w/health club #1 until a shoplifter hit the club’s building with his van as he was pursued by police. All the water features have been shut down for repair.

    Enrolled in health club #2 until #1 is repaired. We are fortunate to have two really great health clubs here in West Seattle. In summer I go to an outdoor/olympic-sized saltwater pool near a forest w/old growth trees. The pool overlooks Puget Sound. Lovely place!

    Motion is lotion — I sure hope when I’m over-70 the discipline to keep going back to health club is as routine as flossing teeth.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Water is good. Aquafit looks promising and I am told it is hard: I like that. Seattle sounds great. And btw I only clocked 3 mins once with a terrific instructor!

      1. Yes — when you get a good aquafit instructor, it’s a work-out!

      2. Rachel McAlpine says:

        Update: after my first session yesterday I was trembling with exhaustion. That amazed me. It didn’t feel so very hard or long, and I have never felt that way after Pump or Pilates classes. A revelation.

      3. Maybe there’s an adaptation time for aquafit or just that each individual reacts uniquely to water exercises? Maybe the chill of the water? I have a feeling I’d be in reverse — the Pump class would tucker me out. I like Pilates though and need to get back to doing that. Good luck with aquatics and I hope if you continue with it, next time it’s the endorphins that kick in.

      4. Rachel McAlpine says:

        There’s certainly an unfamiliar level of coordination required! One woman said it took her five months to get the hang of all the movements. But it has been fun all the way so far. Pilates can be very hard going!

  5. Margaret says:

    Hi Rachel,
    Aged 63 years & since age of 32 ish have attended various gyms and had personal trainers at two. Last revisited one last year but gave up after being unable to cope with visual over stimulation from numerous t.vs.
    Recently bought a book ‘sod sitting, get moving’ aimed at seniors. I need to revisit. I love walking & going on organised walks has been on my to do list for a while now as has yoga – hard going 🏋️‍♀️

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      That rings a bell with me: we need to adjust and tweak our exercise programmes as we get older. Things happen!

  6. Elizabeth says:

    I have been a regular at our local small gym for three years now, starting when I was 68 and tired of not being able to carry things like suitcases. My daughter took me and insisted that I use a trainer, a priceless suggestion. My gym friends are my age and we have a great time together. I don’t compete with anyone except myself. And I can say “no thank you” when a young person says “can I carry that for you, ma’am?”

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      That no-thank-you must feel marvellous every time. Your routine sounds deeply satisfying.

      1. Elizabeth says:


  7. At the YMCA where I work as a wellness coach, the mid-20s Wellness Director asked for my input on an Active Older Adult social program she is launching. She reached out to me because I’m, in her eyes, a prime example of that demographic. While I stayed calm on the outside, inside I was screaming and shouting. I too just want to be a human – not part of demographic or, like you said, ghettoed. One day it will be her turn, to have the years creep up on her and to look in the mirror and know the world sees her age before anything else. I too work out regularly and doing so has changed my life and most days my age isn’t in the forefront of my mind. But, on occasion, someone says or does something that reminds that that is the lens through which most people see me. I am by nature a positive person but sometimes I just need to sigh…..

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Aargh, you too. It is strange to be the object of study. We are now A Thing.

  8. And here I was smug because I’m still fit at 66! Nice poem!

  9. Rachel McAlpine says:

    Be proud and keep doing whatever you’re doing!

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