The saying might go ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks’ but Logan Franklin thinks otherwise. He has witnessed the benefits of exercise for the over 50’s population and has been educating the masses on its importance. He certainly walks the talk and has lived an incredible life. So if you are over 50, or you know someone over 50 who should be exercising, Learn Logan’s training tips and the message that it’s never too late to make exercise a regular routine.
1. You’ve clearly exercised your whole life, but what about those who haven’t. Would you suggest ‘it’s never too late to start’ or ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks’?
It’s never too late to start. I’ve seen residents in assisted living homes doing resistance workouts with elastic bands, with a trainer of course. Even at that stage of life it is possible to gain strength and add muscle, which can make them less dependent on others.
2. People refer to three main types of exercise, strength, cardiovascular, and flexibility. Do you suggest over 50’s focus on one of the above, or all, and in what ratio?
I believe all three are important. Generally, I suggest more emphasis on strength training because it is the withering away of muscle that is the most debilitating as we age. The medical people refer to it as “sarcopenia.” There are exceptions, of course. Some people may be particularly weak or at risk in some way that indicates the emphasis should be on cardiovascular exercise, for example. Usually, though, I’d prioritize it this way: 1) strength; 2) cardio; and 3) flexibility. But there would be some portion of each one.
3. I can see by your website that strength training has been an integral part of your routine, what are some of the benefits over 50’s and anyone, for that matter, might experience from weight training?
Let’s say you are over 50 and a beginner. You had been active or athletic in your youth. But now there is fat where muscle used to be. You think your best days are behind you. Then someone convinces you to try weight training. You try it and stay with it. Gradually, lost muscle starts to return. Your waist gets smaller and firmer. You are stronger. You can feel it in everything you do. Well, that really happens. And it all begins with that first workout and then, of course, sticking with it.
4. Do you know anyone who has seen some great improvements by adding exercise into their lives? Anyone stand out?
I have seen many. But my wife, Patty, stands out because I saw dedication and improvement day by day. When we met she has never trained with weights. I got her started and she liked it. In 2000, she entered the Body-for-Life competition. Is Body-for-Life popular in Australia? It was huge here in the United States, and is still going. Anyway, the transformation was amazing. She didn’t win the competition but was one of the top finishers. Her before and after pictures are here: http://www.grayironfitness.com/mrsgrayiron.htm
5. What are two or three of your favorite exercises for over 50’s?
I like basic push/pull workouts. Let’s say lat machine pull-downs for the pull exercise. It works the upper-and middle-back and biceps, while at the same time providing a nice stretch. For the push part, I might add push-ups or overhead dumbbell presses. Squats, lunges, or leg presses for legs.
6. What about diet? What are your diet philosophies?
Here in the U.S., overweight and obesity are an enormous problem (no pun intended). So portion control should be at the top of the list for those who need to lose weight.
My own eating habits emphasize fruits, vegetables, fish, and nonfat dairy products. I also eat poultry, whole grains and nuts. I never was much of a beef eater, and I’ve given it up completely. I stay away from sugar and processed carbohydrates of any kind, the things that come in a bag or box, as they say. I like a glass of wine or a beer with dinner.
I eat three meals and two snacks per day. I start the day with a protein shake made with whey, mixed berries, ground flax seeds, yogurt, and soy milk. Delicious! I take a daily multi-vitamin/mineral tablet, plus extra vitamin C, fish oil, and glucosamine.
My advice to anyone: If you do nothing else, get the sugar and processed carbohydrates out of your diet and you will have taken a giant step forward.
7. After spending most of your life in the world of newspapers and publishing why did you move into the world of fitness?
A confluence of events in my personal life told me it was time to move on. Add to that, I had simply lost interest in what I was doing.
Fitness and weight training had been a part of my life since I was a teenager, but that was not my motivation to leave publishing. I had done political cartooning under a pen-name and was also a painter. I worked on a cartoon strip for a while, but gradually put more and more time into painting. Of course I continued working out not matter what else was going on. I forget when it happened, exactly, but I started writing about training and fitness. I had always been a martial arts guy and I started teaching cardio kickboxing part-time at a health club. It was great fun and they actually paid me for this! I also coached soccer at a high school, and did some individual personal training. So there was more and more about training to write about, and I decided to write a book, a training manual for beginners over 50. When I was younger, working out was something that I just did, but I wasn’t analytical about it. Now it seems the older I get, the more I want to encourage the fitness lifestyle in every way I can. When I’m not doing that, however, I still paint.
8. Here in Australia, the fitness industry has taken a massive shift into senior exercise, and most gyms are providing more senior programs and becoming more senior friendly. Have you noticed any resistance from over 50’s to join gyms? If so, what improvements could gyms make to attract the over 50’s crowd?
In the U.S., seniors are the fastest growing segment of gym membership. So it’s the same here. Generally, I would advise gym owners that seniors are the least likely people to tolerate boorish behavior or gyms that are not kept clean and in good condition. Since many seniors are retired they tend to train in the mid-day to avoid the crowded before- and after-work hours. Sometimes I will walk into a gym in the early afternoon and an attendant will be playing loud RAP or heavy metal music. Then I look out on the gym floor and see all this gray hair. That kind of poor judgment doesn’t make sense. Make a gym senior friendly during hours when they dominate the floor.
9. What contra-indications should over 50’s be aware of with exercise?
Have a thorough physical examination before starting an exercise program or making dietary changes. Tell your doctor your plans and ask directly if there are any reasons certain activities should be avoided. If you are working with a trainer, make sure she or he has training and experience working with seniors. When it comes to actually working out, I always say to push yourself, but push gently. Think of the hare and the tortoise. Slow but steady wins the race. You can accomplish great things by incrementally improving. Overdoing it all at once can lead to injury or psychological burnout.
10. Can you sum up your top tips for improvement of quality of life for over 50’s?
If you are not retired yet, someday you will be. Establish a fitness lifestyle now and it should carry over into retirement. Think also about what will occupy your mind in retirement. We have all seen people who look forward to retirement so they can do nothing. The result is sad. The years after 50 can be the most rewarding of your life. But you must have at least one interest that makes your spirit soar. Otherwise, the television may waste away both your mind and your body.