Old Dog/New Tricks? Is it too late to make a big change?

I remember when I turned 40 some of my older friends would tell me not to worry as 40 was the new 30, much like people seem to do these with any of the big birthdays – 60 is the new 50… and so on….
Originally I just laughed it off however studies (by Professor Warren Sanderson and Sergei Scherbov) have shown that compared to previous generations, in terms of  our health and the number of years we may have left on earth, there is some truth in it. In fact, it could be an understatement and actually 50 may be the new 30!
The nature of our work, our environment and advances in medicine mean that we’re living way longer than previous generations.
When it comes to our work, despite the fact that we’re expected to continue working well into our sixties and beyond, the workplace is still firmly fixated on hiring fresh faced youths and though in your 30’s you might still seen as having some potential left and making moves into management – by your forties they’re not so keen! In my previous work it seemed the older you were, if you weren’t going into management you were moved sideways or even downward, from customer facing, into back office and administration roles which were not as “high profile” and would be “less stressful”!!
It’s usually around this age that you start to take stock and wonder if you took the right path. You might be thinking although you started as a go-getter, somehow work and family have overtaken you life, and now you’re never gonna get it.  Maybe you’re worried this could be your last chance at chasing your dream – so how difficult or easy could it be to make a big change?
It’s also around this time that we notice the effects of age on our bodies and it’s true that our bodies do in theory start to decline. From the age of 40, our eyesight starts to worsen, our bodies store fat more easily, bones start to lose density and we begin to lose our muscle definition. Let alone the fact that those little wrinkles also start to deepen – and that’s just the start!
Reality sucks and the problem is that it IS harder to start again once you’re over 40 the slight silver liner being that it’s easier at 40 than at 50!
So if you’re at that point and have that dream career in mind or really want to do something about those extra inches that seem to be creeping on – it can be done – there’s plenty of examples of people that have been able to make that change (me included) but the time to do something about it is NOW!
If you’re after a particular career look at the skills needed and see how close you match, if not think about how you could gain those skills?  what would the affect be on your family and finances? could you start at the bottom of the ladder and cope with a reduced income? and really think about what it is that you’re trying to get away from. Is it really the current job your unhappy with or is it the company? For a lot of people, they get trapped within an organisation and simply switching companies is the change they needed. Or maybe it’s not the job at all….. and is something else.
When it comes to your health – again your 40’s are a great place to restart a fitness programme – yes it will take longer to build muscle and/or lose weight – but so long as you know this – then why not? By starting now you are adding a lot more years to your life than if you leave it until your retirement and means you can actually enjoy that retirement for a lot longer. Training with weights will help keep those bones stronger for longer and will help to keep or build muscle definition and a good cardio workout will help keep that heart ticking.
When I turned 40 I was a smoker, putting on weight, my psoriasis was getting worse and after 17 years in finance was really unhappy and stressed at work! Reviewing my situation – it seemed that everything seemed to stem from the stress at work and needed something new. It was one of the older instructors at my local gym that suggested a career in fitness and I did my homework and got really excited at the prospect. Thankfully I did a lot of planning, did my inital qualifications as a nightclass, and focused on getting healthy – stopping smoking, eating right and starting a proper training regime. Then once qualified reduced my hours in my old job, whilst working casually in the gym, which then gave me the experience to find a permanent job. Since then I’ve done further qualifications, and slowly built up my number of clients, classes and hours. It’s not easy! It’s a lot of work and was initally a huge reduction in income, but looking back over the last 3 years from where I was to where I am now – I am so pleased I made the decision to change and have never been fitter or happier.
Age really shouldn’t be a barrier – don’t feel that you are too old – it may be difficult as we get older but I see people in the gym that are just starting at the age of 65, and there’s one older gentleman that comes in every single day for a run on the treadmill a short weights programme and just celebrated his 92nd birthday!
If you had a chance at your dream job – what would it be and would you take that chance? Let me know!

Age ain’t nothin’ but a number!



I was chatting to my mum the other night and for the first time told her about me cutting and condensing my hours at work, starting a fitness instructor course and my plans to possibly be a Personal Trainer, but I was a little taken aback by her response…

“Aren’t you a bit old for all that?”

“You’re not as young as you used to be – your body’s getting older”

“Don’t these women want hot, young stuff as their trainer?”


I know she wasn’t meaning to come across as being un-supportive, as she’s always been 100% supportive in everything I do, and what she is actually worried about is the financial side of it. Having been in a full-time, stable and well paid job – she’s scared that I’m suddenly going to pack it all in – to pursue a dream that she has only been aware of for 5 minutes.

Needless to say that once I explained what I’d been doing and eased her mind about quitting my current job – she was a little more encouraging – but it did get me a bit worried – am I too old?

When I think about a stereo-typical personal trainer, a young, buff, stud of a guy in his twenties is what tends to come to mind – or an overly eager and positive, skinny, blonde bombshell of a girl in lycra!

In all the big brand gyms I’ve been to, the trainer’s there certainly fit that model!  But then I realised  – I quit those gyms and never asked the instructors anything after my induction as I always felt intimidated by them.

The gym I’m at now is a local council gym and the first guy who did my induction was your “typical” instructor, but showed little interest in what I was doing there – got me to sign a form, asked me if I’d used a gym before and after saying yes, proceeded to point out – “The free weights are over there, the upper body machines here, lower body there and cardio equipment by the windows and the fire exits are here and here………” That was it!!

I didn’t go back for a few weeks, until I started this lifestyle change and when I did they couldn’t find the details of my original induction, so had to go through it again. This time however, it was a different guy – older (in his fifties) who actually did what I would call a proper induction – asking about my gym experience, whether I wanted a plan setting, and taking me round the various pieces of equipment making sure I knew how to use them!  Needless to say when I do go and he’s there we say “Hi” and I’ve even asked him a few things about the industry/form etc.

If I was going to hire a personal trainer, while it would be nice to think you want some “hot, young thing” in reality what I would want is someone who knows their stuff and I can relate to.

Doing some research on the web – that also tends to hold true for a lot of people. A study in 1999 found that the average age of a trainer is actually mid thirties! The younger ones, have to work harder to get clients as they are apparently seen as inexperienced (in terms of life experience) and so “wouldn’t understand the trials and tribulations of the body aging and health/work/family life balance”.  I think this is being a little unfair on younger trainers who can work just as hard or have more experience in dealing with a number of different types of clients than an older trainer with little actual experience as a trainer……

So why do gyms/training providers focus so much on the young ones? Personally, I think it’s the eye candy factor – have young good-looking instructors – get younger customers through the doors. In an aging society where people are generally living longer – I think more gyms need to hire older instructors to get the older customer through the doors! Afterall – they have a greater disposable income and would probably be more likely to hire a personal trainer to help get them fitter, rather than just flirting with them or acting like jocks in a locker room.

I came across one woman on a forum who was 57, quit her job after 30 years working in an office and just qualified as a fitness instructor and was now running group exercise classes and personal training sessions with clients aging from 26-80 who saw her as an inspiration.

The PT’s I follow on Twitter vary in age from 20’s-50’s – so it’s definitely not an industry where age should be a barrier – it’s experience, knowledge and personality that makes a PT great – not how old they are.

I know all too well that I’m getting older – but like the case above – I want to be able to help inspire people to get fitter – no matter what their age. Being fit and healthy is not just about being a muscle god!

When I look at my current place of work in finance – the average age is probably mid-twenties (though sometimes feels younger) so why should I be bothered about how “old” I am?

What is important, is finding something that you enjoy, are good at and can be passionate about.  If you find those things, then people can see it and will want you in their team and then age really is just a number!