I’m fast approaching the decade of life where people start dropping dead with some frequency. Both my parents died in this decade. With that sobering thought in the back of my mind, I make well-intentioned efforts to try and stay physically healthy, like taking daily walks (weather permitting) and hitting the weight room two or three times a week (body willing).

Being a creature of habit, though, I easily get into ruts. When I realized my strength-training routine had become, well, routine, I decided to hire a personal trainer to help me shake things up a bit, give me some fresh exercises to perform and new workout regimens to follow.

Steven Price continues to fight the good fight. Not against any human opponent, but against old age itself, and its insistent promise of inevitable physical decline. Ben McCanna photo/Press Herald

When my new trainer (a freshly graduated applied exercise science student) asked me what my fitness goals were, I told her that my overall fitness goal was to fall apart as slowly as possible. At my age, body sculpting is more a matter of subtraction than addition. The days of packing on muscle and paring down fat are long past. Today it’s “Buck up buddy, it could be worse.” When I pass a mirror in the buff these days I don’t look too closely. Might see something I don’t like, like a saggy butt or turkey waddles where my triceps used to be.

My biggest complaint about my aging body is the acquisition of man-boobs. Pure vanity, I know. But I used to have rock-hard pecs. Now they’re a pair of 42-inch C cups. And they jiggle when I run.

There are all kinds of body-building supplements on the market, like testosterone boosters and fat burners. But I’m suspicious of all those over-the-counter, heavily advertised sexual health and performance enhancing nostrums. When I was preparing for my black belt test in Aikido, I started taking creatine and protein supplements, which promised extra energy and bigger muscles. I was younger and more credulous then. And to my surprise, after a couple months of downing this stuff three times a day, my muscles had swelled to ropy pythons and I had gained 15 pounds, distributed in all the right places.

But I think those “magical” powders messed with my head. The day I took my martial arts test, I was an angry middle-aged man, feeling like I could throw King Kong to the moon. As karma would have it, the senior sensei paired me up with a frail-looking 50-year-old guy who looked like he’d break up like a porcelain teacup if I threw him too hard. I passed the test (without killing the guy), but I was seriously disappointed. It got me thinking, who really knows what’s in all this stuff? Chances are, those training aids were laced with stronger ingredients than advertised, and I was suffering from supplement-induced roid rage.


A lot has changed since then, body wise and head wise. Today, I’m happy just to get out of bed without hurting my back or walk down a grocery store aisle without my sciatica kicking in. Humility is my middle name.

I’m still fighting the good fight though. Not against any human opponent, but against old age itself, and its insistent promise of inevitable physical decline. I refuse to go gentle into that good night. I will kick and scream and walk miles and lift weights, until I’m blue (red?) in the face. And if I need to, hire personal trainers half the age of my grown children to show me the way.

At our initial session, my trainer took some resting and exercise measurements. I was determined to impress her; show her what great shape I was in for a nearly 70-year-old man. It didn’t go exactly as planned. My blood pressure was sky high. I had trouble doing the push ups because of a deformed little finger (Dupuytren’s contracture), and more trouble doing the squats because of a bum knee (athletic injury compounded by old age). I was winded after one minute into my three-minute stepping exercise to gauge my working heart rate.

OK, I’ve got some more work to do.

Steven Price is a Kennebunkport resident. He can be reached at sprice1953@gmail.com.

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