Almost no one knows about the most inspiring athletes at CrossFit 204.
For the last five months, we’ve been running a twice-a-week program called 204 Legends. It’s designed for senior athletes or older athletes whose fitness goals are slightly different than those who attend our general group classes. Our Legends athletes are focused not on learning muscle-ups or handstand push-ups but on preserving and reclaiming functionality.
The Legends group currently trains Mondays and Thursdays at 10:30 a.m. The program features a very low coach-to-athlete ratio and is designed to help older athletes get fit and improve or maintain their lifestyles.
To begin, an athlete spends about four sessions one-on-one with a coach to learn movements and address any mobility issues or other concerns. A bit of stiffness or an old hockey injury are common at this age, and we can work around them as we learn about the athlete. When necessary, we work with athletes’ health-care providers to ensure all activity is safe and reasonable. We’ve found doctors are ecstatic that their patients want to be more active. After the athletes are comfortable with the movements and we know their strengths and limitations, we introduce them to twice-a-week group classes.
Make no mistake: the members of our Legends crew certainly care about improving and getting stronger and faster, but it’s less about putting numbers on the whiteboard and more about long-term health and function.
What’s really great is that we’re doing CrossFit with them. We simply modify movements and apply very moderate amounts of intensity. In this class, intensity might be slowly squatting to a box with only body weight as resistance to start. That level of intensity might slowly increase to include a small dumbbell as resistance, and we might remove the box at some point. Then we might add a light barbell, and then a heavier one after that.
The idea is progressive overload with strength work, and we take the same approach with conditioning. Walking briskly might become running, which might become pushing a sled or using a rowing machine.
The overall goal is safely improving both strength and conditioning. And “intensity” just means “a little further than yesterday.” We apply that same principle to the mobility and flexibility work that’s included in every class.
Here’s an example of an entire class:
- Rowing warm-up
- Core work: 3 sets of 10 lying leg raises
- 10 minutes of various hip-mobility work
- Back squat: 4 sets of 6
- Group shoulder prehab including work on the deltoids and external rotators
- Conditioning: 3 rounds of a 250-m row, 15 ball slams (12 lb.) and 15 Russian kettlebell swings (15 lb.)
Interestingly enough, this workout could easily be scaled up to provide a challenge to our top athletes.
The best part is that the body of a senior athlete responds like the body of a younger athlete, if slightly more slowly. We can improve levels of strength and conditioning, and we hope to help our older athletes retain muscle mass, increase bone density and improve their cardiovascular systems—all things that will help people live a healthy life and avoid injury.
As for results, we’re seeing them. Just as the numbers are increasing for our members in our evening group classes, numbers are changing for our Legends athletes. As but one example, one gentleman was surprised to find he can now run 800 m without stopping.
As I said at the beginning, these are some of our most inspiring athletes, not because of their deadlift records or competition results but because they’re using fitness to bring vitality and energy to their lives.
They’re role models for me, and I hope to be just like them one day. I also hope our younger clients will continue a lifelong pursuit of fitness so they can become parents and grandparents who will be role models for the younger generation.
If you are an older adult who’d like to get fitter, or if you have someone in your life who would benefit from this program, email firstname.lastname@example.org. The cost for each intro session is $52.50 (GST included), and the coach and athlete will determine the exact number of sessions together. It’s usually about four. After that, group classes are $105 per month (GST included). Class space is limited to preserve an ideal coach-to-athlete ratio. If there’s demand, we’ll look at increasing the number of group classes every week.