About this Project -2

Growing Older, Staying Strong
Weightlifting in your 80’s

My parents, Ron and Fran, believe that “to stop moving is the worst thing you can do when you are aging.”  My Mom is soon to turn 83 and my Dad just celebrated his 86th birthday.

Married for nearly 60 years, they have shared over 30 of these weightlifting twice a week at the Canada Games Pool fitness centre in New Westminster, British Columbia.

They are at an age people call old. I reluctantly use this word for them because they aren’t the “old” that I imagined “old” to be. I rarely think of them this way. The beginning of their workout involves 50 minutes of cardio that is divided between the treadmill and exercise bikes and then they move onto weightlifting and completing a series of strength and flexibility exercises on the matts. In addition, my Mom swims lengths for 25 minutes.  On off days, they complete different exercises at home which include 100 sit-ups and 45 partial push-ups for my Dad and 15-20 half push-ups as well as stretching and flexibility exercises for my Mom. They also take daily walks and as I explored in another documentary, they are active dancers 2-3 times a week in their “Old Time Dancing” community. I remind myself that they are 82 and 86

Because my parents rise at the forbidding hour of 4:30am to get ready to go to the gym, the breakfast table is prepared the night before and gym bags are placed in the kitchen.  When they arrived to eat their breakfast, they are so accustomed to me photographing them that they seemed oblivious to my presence.

When my father allowed me to photograph him in the intimacy of their bathroom, I’m taken with the beauty of his body and the indisputable signs of his aging.  At the pool, I am compelled to photograph my Mom and a young competitive swimmer as they simultaneously return to the women’s change room.

As my father sat lifting a 10 pound free weight, he spoke to me, without a hint of ego, about how he used to have bigger muscles when he was a younger man. He shows up and lifts what he can despite health issues that have weakened his muscles, but never his spirit to care for his body.

I observe my Mom’s indomitable spirit as she methodically moves from one fitness task to the next. After each routine, her eyes are already fixed on her next goal.

After two hours at Canada Games Pool, they head to the Royal City Centre coffee shop where, once again, they enjoy a coffee and biscotti, laugh, discuss and quietly read the paper together in a way 60 years of comfort creates.

Are my parents inspiring role models for the aging “baby boomers?” Maybe. I’d like to think so…but I know that’s not what motivates them.  For them, it’s about being together, staying active and taking care of their health. For me, it was a privilege to see my parents in a whole new way and a joy to document their active lives.

I extend my gratitude to the Aquatic Manager, Hilary Knowles, for allowing me access to the Canada Games Pool weight room and pool facility to create this documentary piece.
Documentary completed November 2011.

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