Category Archives: AthleticOver40

55 Years Old and How Everything Has Changed

Growing up, I did not think about what it would be like at 55 years old. The only time 55 years old was mentioned was in the context of retirement.

As we turn the calendar to 2020, I will turn my chronological calendar to 55.

Over the last few months, I have spent a lot of time reflecting on what 55 feels like, what I have learned with this time on earth and what’s ahead.

That’s a good place to start. What’s ahead.

I am not sure when, but at some time in the last few years I started to think of the finish line more and more.   I have watched my dad and in laws pass, and my Mom’s health decline rapidly as she approaches 80.

I don’t remember thinking about my remaining years as much when I was 30 or into my 40’s.  But I do now.

  • How do I want the remaining years to go?
  • How long will I be able to do the things I like?  What do I like?
  • How long will I maintain a full-time work schedule?
  • How is my physical self? 
  • Is it declining? 
  • What do I want to do?
  • Who do I want to spend my time with?
  • How do I want to feel?

I don’t have the answers to all the above questions.

I find it interesting that this line of thinking and questioning in entering my thoughts.  I think it is positive.  For me, it represents a sense of mindfulness.  These questions represent not taking life’s events for granted.  It represents a sense of scripting out what I can and being proactive today, tomorrow, next week, month and year. 

Have you found that much of our adult lives are being reactive?

Reactive to family and work demands. Reactive to what needs to be done on a daily basis.  I think that is normal as we raise a family and try to establish ourselves professionally that we feel we are responding to life’s events rather than planning them out.  We don’t take as much time for ourselves and guide our events as much as we probably should.

I do find, in the last few years, that I don’t take much for granted.  Relationships, time, finances, health. I think that is good thing.

When I was younger, in my 30’s, 20’s and teenage years, I thought 55 years old was old. It was a beyond comprehension really.  When my Dad was 55, I was 28.  At 28, I was in the process of buying my first house and leaving school teaching for the world of sales and business.  My mind was not focused on how my dad viewed his life at 55, or much beyond building a foundation for myself and my spouse.

Even into my 40’s, I continued to focus on providing for my family and doing what needed to be done to strike a work life balance.

I think it was the passing of my family members that triggered the sense of vulnerability that comes as we age.   I was close to my Dad and in laws.  It hit me hard.  It took me a long time to recover, and not sure I have completely.  That was 3-4 years ago.

What does this mean?

I have come to the conclusion that I must work on myself daily.

Keep myself healthy, strong, positive and vibrant.  That process alone is one of the things I enjoy the most. Kind of like an athlete preparing for competition.  Except my competition is life.

I am a huge believer in being our own health and well being advocates. I think it is our responsibility to navigate what we can control around our environment and our mood.

I have received the reminders about how life is short, and how every day is a gift.  I don’t take that for granted.

For that, I feel blessed. 

55 years old today is not what it was 25 years ago.  It can be the age of retirement, but it is not for me at this point.  The workplace has changed so much. It feels like we have control over who we work with and what we do. That is empowering.

My spouse is starting a new career at 53.   I am going back to doing more and more coaching. I am starting to write more.

Years ago, I feel mid 50’s represented a time to wind down.

I don’t feel that way. I feel I am just getting started! 

Physical Activity Changed (Saved?) My Life

The words resonate with me almost 40 years later: “You did not workout today did you?”.

In 1981, At 16 years old, I had started going to the gym to rehab my shoulder and strengthen my body to play ice hockey.  I had already had a few bumps and bruises, was almost 6ft 2” but, predictably my muscles had not caught up to my growth!  I needed to get stronger if I wanted to keep playing at higher levels, and boy I wanted to play at higher levels! (that is another story for another day!)

What Mom said to me that day has stuck with me since. She noticed the difference in my mood on workout days vs non workout days.  Enough to let me know.

My time at the gym led me to a part time job there.  Doing fitness assessments and onboarding for new members/exercisers.  It allowed me to build my knowledge, experience and confidence in a physical activity setting, and gave me another physical outlet (in addition to hockey) that allowed me to focus at school (my membership was now free as I worked there!)

When it came time to make a decision what to study in university, I had 2 choices: Commerce/Business or Physical Education. The former I was good at, the latter I was curious about.  My dad was a teacher, and my role model, so I thought teaching and physical activity would be a good pursuit.  So, that is what I did. (My dad, by the way, was the one who suggest that I follow my passion. A very wise man indeed as  that advice has always stayed with me)

I got my undergraduate and graduate degrees in Physical Education from McGill University.  I studied topics like exercise physiology and the movement sciences. I learned about sports skills and the methodology around teaching and coaching. That included the science of regular exercise and the impact it had on the body and the brain.  My career path was locked in.  I was going to apply all my learning as a teacher in the schools!

I coached and taught for 8 years at all grade levels.  All in a position of leadership around physical activity.  Some friends from university introduced me at that time to the love of my life, mother of my son, and partner for the last 31 years. 

Once I stopped competitive hockey in university, I continued to play different sports well into adulthood. Volleyball, golf, slow pitch, basketball, skiing, cycling and mountain biking, flag football and eventually back to hockey. Physical activity was always a staple to my ways. It was always a part of my life. A big part. Oh yes, and I went to the gym regularly.

Yours Truly On The Big Stage.

There was a feeling after being active that I could not duplicate any other way.  When I was not active, my mood was not the same, neither was my patience or focus or ability to get things done. My energy levels changed and my addictive personality focused on less constructive outlets.  I am very grateful that I have had the wisdom to recognize the power activity had on my life. I also thank my mother who reminded my and help me light the bulb!

The activities also allowed me to be a kid again. To revisit a time where all I did was play outside. Every sport and activity imaginable from hide and seek to tackle football to 1-2 hour bike rides (as a mode of transportation). To play. To develop social skills.  When got my first full time teaching job a few hours from home, playing in the rec basketball league allowed me to meet a ton of new people.

The post activity time  turned into my best thinking time and most productive time.  It is when I planned my lessons and planned my practices. Planned my next career and live moves.

My teaching time was a real joy. Teaching young people skill development, and seeing their eyes light up and their bodies adapt to the new activities. 

The only frustration was the imposed reduction in physical education time for students. This was the mid 90’s and government, at the time, felt PE, like the arts, home economics, car shop and music were expendable. Budgets were cut. Instead of daily PE, students now only had gym class 1x per week.  The demand for the good ole’ gym teacher was declining.  I was offered other subjects I could teach.  I was not as passionate about that possibility. 

I don’t think future generations have been too keen on that either. Since the mid 1990’s we have seen a horrible impact on lack of activity in our youth. 

The decline in PE teaching opportunities led me to explore other options.  I got a temporary position as intercollegiate sports coordinator for the college for Dawson College in Montreal. Loved that job, as I worked with student athletes and coaches, organizing all the behind the scenes work to give them their competitive opportunities. But that was a replacement position, and ended after 1 year.

I answered an ad in the paper for a commercial fitness equipment sales representative for a new company in the area. They offered the job to the guy with no sales experience.  The compensation was all commission, and I think I was the only applicant who would take that gig.   It was the summer and I figured if I did not like after a couple of months, I could go back to teaching.

Selling exercise equipment led to long hours and low pay as I learned the ins and outs of the business. But I still had my connection to physical activity.  

The more I performed, the better I got paid. “Wow” moment.  Over the next few years, I performed well.

After a few years that led to new territories and markets and management and ownership opportunities. Management and ownership gave me a new teaching platform and a business education like no other. (I ended up getting that business education after all!)  

While this was happening, we had our son, and yes, he developed his own interest in sports and activity. And yes, I coached many of his teams growing up. 

Now in my 50’s, and on the “back nine”,  I still very involved in fitness.  My passion for fitness and active living has opened doors and led to a great career in the equipment and education side.  Still a teacher, but a very different classroom.     

Physical activity has opened the doors to many great experiences!

As a father, husband, businessman and coach, I have had to find ways to stay active through a busy lifestyle over the years. 

I always prioritized physical activity, because I knew I was different without it.  I was not the person I wanted to be without it.  I made decisions I did not like without activity in my life.

The Problem with Exercise On The Internet

Exercise online is a bit of mess.

The problem with social media and what we see on the interweb is that most of it is inappropriate. I don’t mean inappropriate in a “parental guidance “sort of way, although there is too much of that as well (put some clothes on people!! ).  I mean more inappropriate for you and me.

Random exercises performed by someone who is ½ our age, or has 10x more experience in the gym, or is a freak of nature, or has no injuries, or (I can go on and on) is not the best guidance for most of us.

I can come up with a few different examples.

Here is one I see often. Back squats.

The squat that we did in high school or perhaps our sporting years, with bar loaded up on the back of our neck and down we go!  Back up, Down we go.

The old school lifters will tell ya that all you need is master the squat, deadlift and bench press and you are good to go.  But those guys have been doing that for 25 years!

The new school fitness coaches will give you all kinds of variations to keep things interesting.  Too many sometimes.

The answer is somewhere in the middle for most of us.

See the rest of the article with video support over on the A040 blog

Our journey continues,


The best gift for the holidays!

Holiday season.

New Years resolutions. If you notice anything in mainstream media, you will see all the hype around new year resolutions.  Gyms are busiest from January 1 to Mid February then people fall off. A whole host of reasons why (don’t get me started), but they are rooted in unrealistic expectations and unrealistic programming.

That is another topic for another day.

Get the jump on the gift giving season with the best gifts you can provide for your yourself and/or your loved one who needs a spark in their fitness journey.

   First of all, the best gift you can provide yourself and your loved ones is to be your best self.  Investing in your health is the most important thing, and that reality hits home as we age and as we see important people in our lives age.

“Sometimes you have to be selfish to be selfless” – Edward Albert.

#1 gift you can provide is the one for yourself. Build a daily routine of investing in your health.  Yoga, mobility, strengthening body, mind and spirit!  Start that now. 5 minutes daily.  Something you enjoy (enough grinding already!)  Despite all you read and hear, 5 minutes is all it takes to start.    You can find tons online about daily rituals has habits towards success.  Pro athletes, top leaders and anyone really at the top of their craft most often will have this in common. A daily ritual that keeps them centered, and prepared to tackle the day, to being their best self!

In the spirit of new years resolutions and the holiday season, are some other gifts you can give yourself and/or loved ones in order to help with your journey to being your at your best!

A new toy:

Some ideas to spark the mindset and rituals ….

  • Foam roller
  • Resistance bands (either 40” or 13”)
  • TRX suspension trainer.

These are staples in my daily routine, my travel pack and help me focus 5-15 minutes per day on stretching, breathing and strengthening.  They have been for as long as i can remember.

Any of these toys are available online ( and are great resources) or locally you can usually find at a specialty fitness retailer and come with supporting programming material.    These tools will be key in some programming that I will be sharing in the coming months catered to being your best self, however for now, there are lots of simple (*notice did not say easy*) and beneficial moves you can develop around a little space and a toy or 2 to get you on a permanent road to being your best self.

Being middle age strong starts with a mindset.  Give yourself permission (gift) to being your best self.

5 minutes per day.

A few tools to get your body moving daily. Strengthening and moving!

You got this!

“Take care of your body, it is the only place you have to live” – Jim Rohn
Happy Holidays!

Greg Lawlor

5 things you must include in your middle age exercise program

New year is coming, resolutions of course arrive at the same time.

Exercise is top of the list, losing weight, healthier etc etc.  Fitness over 40 becomes more and more top of mind.

Gyms are busiest in first few weeks of the year, then a huge drop off.  I see so many folks in my age bracket at the gym putting in the effort, but I can’t help but thinking they are feeling a little lost.  There does not seem to be a plan, or the plan is flawed (I see what they are doing).

Here is what must you include in order to start feeling and moving better and kick the resolution off to a good start (with a chance to succeed):

Do something daily or program in place that will allow them to feel progress.

In middle age (age 40-60 years old)

      1. 5 minutes a day of mobility, core and basic body weight exercises. This time allows you to clear the mind and work on your mobility, strength and soft tissues. Foam rolling, some yoga style movements does the job here. 5 minutes in morning or mid day or evening…whatever works. It makes a big difference. Daily routine, even for a small time, is the common denominator with anyone who has mastered a healthy lifestyle. Start with 5 minutes!

       2. Incorporate movement into your routine. Biggest reason we feel stiff and slow and immobile as we age is we don’t move enough. Skipping, shuffling, backpedal even in small spaces and slowly (if just starting) will help a ton (and quickly). If you walk, walk some backwards, side shuffle and mix it up!

      3. High intensity intervals at least 2x per week. There is a reason it is the #1 trend in fitness for 2018 (According to ACSM link here), it gets results. High intensity refers to small bursts of activity followed by rest of a set time interval.  How much effort is high intensity? That is relative (no, not just heart rate). It is an effort that makes it hard to carry a conversation, more than you are used to. Just starting? Walk to corner fast, then slower for twice the time it takes. Then repeat. Build up 2/3 times per week.

More advanced exerciser: any activity you can repeat a higher than usual effort followed by rest qualifies. Start with 15 seconds effort, 30 seconds rest.  Cycling, elliptical, walking on incline or locomotor movements all qualify.

Make sure you feel comfortable with the activity before going harder than usual.

One of the main draw backs to HIIT is going too fast too soon with too much impact on your joints. (example: sprinting before progressions will lead to injuries).

If you have not exercised in years, get a check up from your doctor and start small.

     4.  Recovery time. Biggest change I found at 50 vs younger, is it takes longer to recover from bursts of activity. Lots of water, foam rolling, yoga movements (refer to #1 above), some steady state cardio at low pace all help. Recovery time does not mean sitting on the couch necessarily! Active recovery is good.

     5. Clean eating.  Especially around the holidays, eat as clean as possible. Take the supplements you are supposed to, get your veggies and protein daily and don’t eat processed foods. That affords you a few cheat meals/days during the festive season.

Simple, yet not easy!

Start today. 5 minutes.  your first step to Middle Age Strong!

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step” – Lao Tzu