You can build strength at any age
Kathryn welcomes David Wilson onto the podcast to talk about aging and movement. David shares a wealth of experience and knowledge that highlights all the limiting beliefs (and narratives) that exist around older people and movement. Together they discuss the power of tissue adaptation at any age and how strength, coordination, and balance can be taught across the generational spectrum. Movement can be for fun, challenge and for the sake of doing something joyful – versus the often-assumed reason that people who are older move out of fear of decline.
About David Wilson
As a professional educator, David Wilson brings a life-long interest in how people learn both to his teaching and his practice of movement. He believes that movement is a birthright and that by combining curiosity, playfulness and compassionate self-awareness, anyone can practice movement in ways that will interest them, support them and evolve with them as their lives and bodies change.
He is deeply interested in how people might use creativity, critical thinking and the spirit of inquiry as tools of movement, especially as they age.
This is an incredibly enlightening episode! Movement teachers who are interested in reaching individuals of all ages, particularly folks who identify in the older demographic, should give this a listen. The conversation will encourage you to reconsider some deeply embedded assumptions. David kindly and compassionately pushes movement conversations outside of ageist / limiting beliefs about humans.
This is also a wonderful interview for movement practitioners to start to unpack their own internalized ageism and mindsets that may hold them back from trying out practices that are novel, difficult yet highly rewarding.
David shares his personal experience of being a movement practitioner often feeling out of place in exercise spaces. He previosuly struggled to find representation of folks his age in the workout world. Instead, he would frequently see images of older people walking or doing tai-chi; there was a scarce number of images on social media or in gym marketing that showed all ages doing things like surfing or cardio movements.
Part of this is fuelled by what David reveals as an awful catch-22 for humans as they age. There is fear of becoming invisible or judged for getting older, yet any attempt to try and participate in youthful physical activities (like skateboarding for example) is seen as “pathetic”.
Ultimately the dominant narrative that has pervaded movement spaces thus far is aging equals decline and shrinking. Movement teachers can also be quite hierarchical in their thinking and tell folks what they can or cannot do with their bodies. Yet David (and many other movement practitioners now) is showing how our tissues can adapt and get stronger at any age.
People can take on a task like skateboarding and begin to learn what progressive steps they will need in order to build themselves up to do that activity. A lot of this, as David says, comes down to the “mindset of practice” – believing that you can try and being curious about what your body can do.
Movement teachers who supported him on his journey “refused to see him as a product of his age” but were rather interested and curious about what he could do as a human being. This affirming and encouraging approach has helped him and other students tap into a potential to get stronger, feel more coordinated and establish greater balance in their life.
There is a poignant moment near the middle of the interview that brings this point home. People who are older are often sold classes and movement programs that entrench these beliefs, and underestimate what people can do. David cautions teachers from assuming the reasons older people area coming into your class and why they are moving.
Often, we assume it is because folks are afraid of aging and their body declining. Yet MANY people have a great deal of strength + capacity, and simply want to move for FUN and JOY! He offers an anecdote of a class series for “Older People” and the first session was dedicated to helping people learn how to get up and down from the toilet. Meanwhile, everyone in that space (who were in that age demographic) were quite capable of doing that and the program felt immensely fragilizing and condescending.
You will LOVE this interview for David’s wise and compassionate encouragement. He sheds light on an important issue. And his work is helping to make more space for folks to feel capable to move – at ANY AGE – for many reasons.