Age is a Number – But Sometimes a Big One

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Came across something with the “Age is a number” title and it just got me to thinking a bit. That particular article was geared towards working people in their 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. I think the point was that if you were in some kind of job you hated, there was still plenty of time to “follow your dream” whatever that may be. Not that this post is going to be about that but it just seemed to be something worth mentioning.

I’ve said before that we have a few younger (in their 20’s) students at the studio. It is somewhat unusual given the typical age skew I’ve observed over the years. One thing about watching students at that age is that it really seems like their progress is an exponential growth curve. It is always nice to see people get better but it can be amazing to see it happen so quickly.

Which is why the whole “age is a number” thing isn’t completely true. Not to say you can’t walk into a studio later in life and become a good dancer but it is harder when your body doesn’t bounce back as quickly. I think the mind tends to stay young because it is hard sometimes to wrap my head around how old I actually am. Except after a hard lesson when I get up and various parts are stiff and sore – then age becomes more than a number, it becomes a reality.

On the other end of the scale, we’ve got a student who has to be in his late 70’s at least. I’m not sure how many lessons he takes but he comes to a lot of the group classes as he tells me it is a way to keep moving. The other day there was a Lindy Hop group and I caught the tail end of it before my lesson. I give him props for doing it but let’s just say it wouldn’t have scored well on Dancing with the Stars.

And that’s not to say he should just give up and sit home because it was clear he was still having fun and laughing through his attempts to do the steps. So, yes, I believe in the general concept about age. There are clearly benefits to staying active and for not obsessing over getting old because it can’t be avoided. But it is a little too flip to just say that it is a number because your body will quickly remind you that isn’t the case.

I don’t know where I heard this but someone was talking about professional athletes and said something like “age is undefeated”. Tom Brady aside, there are reasons why pro sports are played by people in their 20’s and 30’s.

On my own lessons, we are working on doing more. I get that a lot from various coaches. No holding back. That kind of thing. Sometimes, though, it feels like Scotty in the old Star Trek – ‘I’m giving it all I’ve got”. I mean you can run an engine in the red zone for a bit but it might blow up on you. But I guess it is all about balance and finding the extra gear that I can do.

I really don’t want to go back and relive my 20’s but there are times I wish I could dance with that body again. (Not that I was much in my 20’s but I had days where nothing ached.)

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