Fitness inspiration from a 75-year-old tennis champion
Being 60 no longer means sinking deeper into armchair and shying away from the fitness world. In fact, new research commissioned by over-50s insurer, Apia, shows that most of Australia’s mature residents are fighting fit and loving life.
Local tennis champion Gordon, 75, says there is “no age barrier” when it comes to accomplishing great feats in sport. He recently won the singles in the NSW Seniors Tennis Championships after only starting to play at 40.
The tennis star also volunteers his time at his local tennis club through mentoring members on the health benefits that result from exercising on a regular basis and supports his fellow players in reaching their potential.
Gordon hopes that his experience and commitment to health and fitness will help change misconceptions of age and encourage others to have a more positive outlook towards keeping fit. He spoke to Over60 about motivation, the joy of volunteering and getting out of life what you put in.
How have you found the motivation to stay focused on your tennis for the last thirty years? Have there been any obstacles, be it mental or physical?
I realise only too well that as we age, it is important to stay as active and involved as possible - ‘If we don't use it, we lose it.’ So shortly after I retired at 55, I decided to fully engage in the sport of tennis, joining tennis seniors and my local club, both of which I am very active in socially and competitively. I find that I love this sport and am very passionate about all aspects, and I think that one must have this sort of commitment in order to excel at anything you do. Despite having some setbacks over the years, I can honestly say that the wonderful friendships, esprit de corps, and support of this tennis fraternity and family, have helped me through. Everyone has their life challenges. If you get knocked down, just get up and keep going. For me, the burning desire to keep improving at whatever I do, is the motivation to keep playing the demanding physical sport of tennis, where with the support of family and friends, I am still competing at 75.
How does volunteering at your local tennis club enrich your day to day life and what made you decide to do it?
You get out of life what you put into it, and I so thoroughly enjoy tennis and the fantastic friends and connections I make both locally and overseas, that I try to put back into this sport whatever I can contribute, since it has been so good to me. Consequently, any volunteer work I and others do for the club and community is not viewed as work, rather as pleasure, and I am grateful to be of service. When nominated to be on the club committee, I happily accepted the opportunity to participate and contribute even more.
What advice would you give to someone who is over 60 and looking to make a change to a more active lifestyle?
If I was 60-years-old and planning to change from a sedentary to a more active lifestyle, I would probably proceed as follows:
1. Start slowly on any exercise or activity undertaken, and build up gradually.
3. Engage in a body strengthening regime of some sort.
4. Do whatever you enjoy, so it is easy to repeat, little and often better than too much at one time.
5. Some people may want to join a gym, others walk or swim etc. There are plenty of good books on the general subject, after you have made the choice of your favoured activity.