Let me introduce you to a remarkable and unique character who has helped shed some light onto how we can see ageing differently, enabling us to have a full and satisfying life…. meet the inspiring and highly resilient Charles Eugster.
- He started competitive age-group rowing at 63.
- He took up body building at 87.
- He began sprinting at the age of 95.
- He has British records for 60m Indoor, 100m outdoor, 200m Outdoor and Long Jump.
- He is a two-time World Record holder for his age group in sprinting.
- He is a 4-time World Fitness Champion.
- He has won a staggering 40 Gold Medals for World Masters Rowing.
Amazing … we just had to share some of his secrets with you.
One thing that he certainly has not done is retire, he has just published his book “Age is just a number”. The way we think about retirement is key. Charles sees it as destructive, a financial disaster and a health catastrophe, “We seem to be destroying ourselves and old age when it could be stupendous and exciting”.
In his younger years Charles was an avid rower training 6 days a week. He realised that at a certain age you can still do endurance exercised 6 days a week but your body continues to deteriorate. At 87, he joined a body-building club and hired a previous Mr Universe as an instructor. He was told to train not 6 but 3 days a week as it is in the recovery period where muscles develop. If you don’t recover it just doesn’t work. It took 3yrs to rebuild his body. Charles then found a another coach who was interested in training older people and specialised in training muscle groups.
From the age of about 50 yrs, we loose 2% of muscle mass per year that is replaced by fat. Muscle is the largest organ of our body. It secretes substances that effect the whole body and it is important to preserve the muscle strength and power.
Charles discovered that you can get muscle back through specific exercise called hypertrophy, where you train muscles and he also took protein supplements to get best results.
At 95 yrs, Charles realised that building muscle alone was not enough, you have to increase muscle power through hard spurts of exercise. He did this through sprinting.
Many see retirement as no longer contributing to society, being robbed of your identity or being forced into idleness. Charles truly believes that retirement is terrible for you as it encourages chronic disease and mental health issues. From the age of 65yrs, the number of people affected by depression doubles every 5yrs.
The most important thing is to keep working in some form or another – whether you are consulting, caring for grandchildren, supporting the community, writing ….
Diet is also very important but is different for everyone depending on your genetic make up, the exercise that you do and the environment that you live in. If people are overweight, reducing carbohydrates and sugar will help reduce the risk of diabetes and other health problems. Charles’s extensive exercise means he needs fat in his diet along with fresh food and high.
His training schedule continually changes as it depends upon his strength, endurance, balance and coordination, ….with programmes being revalued and retested depending on how he is and what Charles wants to achieve.
I think the key message is that we should work out what we want to do in older age , whilst we keep relearning, exercising and doing our best to keep our body and mind on top form.
Have a listen to Charles Eugster on our podcast.
Check out his NEW book “Age is just a number”