Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Exercise for Olds: year 63 (CrossFit and so on)

I entered my 63y recently. For me this means another look at what I'm doing with the old arthritic body I've got.

I started doing CrossFit in April of 2013. I was 53 when I started so I'm into my 9th year at CrossFit St Paul. There have been some interruptions for injury rehabilitation and COVID shut us down for a few months (I built a home gym), but it's been pretty much continuous. I've been there over a thousand times by now. I was at my peak strength and ability around age 60 -- probably stronger than I had ever been! I ran into some recurrences of lifelong and new back issues after that, but recently my new rehab program has worked pretty well. I'm not far off peak strength now and I think I'm still stronger than I was in my 30s. There are a few lifts where I could still get a new lifetime personal record.

I restarted (did some in early 90s) mountain biking 6-7 years when my oldest son joined a new High School team. I was a parent volunteer then; he stopped but I continued. During COVID I bought a Fat bike and road with friends and lights through the dark winter. A few months ago I added a new full suspension bike (Trek Fuel EX 7). I'm by far the best mountain biker I've ever been. That's a bit of a problem actually. I'll get to that.

I started ice hockey much the same way I started mountain biking. I skated as a volunteer and team manager for Minnesota Special Hockey and then 4-5 years ago I joined a local pickup league on my own. Last year was lost to COVID though.

I've always done road biking and that continues. I've a century ride coming up next week and next month. I do some short 3-5 mile runs with Emily, but not that much on my own now. I swim very little now. I inline skate with my middle son every week or two. I love classic Nordic (cross country) ski but the climate has not been our friend.

The body is mostly holding up. A typical week might look like:

Sunday: CrossFit and family bike ride/Nordic ski, in winter coach special hockey
Monday: CrossFit
Tuesday: Home CrossFit with Emily and #2 (a relative rest day for me)
Wed: Mountain bike (summer) or Fat bike (winter) ride with a friend - can be intense
Thur: Inline skating or Mountain bike with #2 (rest day)
Fri: CrossFit (plus Hockey in winter)
Sat: Road bike ride, Fat bike in winter, sometimes just a rest day

In addition I do my rehab exercises at least 4/week. I've come to love the Romanian Deadlift (RDL). I struggled a few years ago when gyms eliminated the therapeutic back extension machine I was taught to use but my PT signed off on my RDL program and it's worked well.

So far I'm still on the the 30 year plan. In 2014 I figured I'd have to downshift at 65; that sounds about right with another drop at mid-70s and dead at 85.

What's changing? With age I do a better job of relative rest days (2-3 a week of easy activity) but there are still more things I want to do than I have time for. I'm having trouble eating enough to build muscle (also limited by age related stem cell depletion). If/when I retire I will have more time to work on strength development, that's currently hard to fit in. Mountain biking is an odd problem -- it's great exercise, I love doing it -- and I'm getting too good at it. I'm good enough to do trails where a mechanical failure or a personal mistake could lead to serious injury. I should be wearing a full face helmet -- but at my age that's insane. So I have to back off a bit. It's hard to do ...

Saturday, August 07, 2021

Schwinn IC 4 / Bowflex / Nautilus cycle trainer - review with Zwift and Peloton apps

We've used our Schwinn IC 4 cycle trainer for about 10 months now. It was a pandemic purchase in December of 2020. The same trainer is sold as a Schwinn IC4, a Bowflex and a Nautilus.

We paid $900 from Dicks sporting goods. In September 2021 it's closer to $1000. It may be the only decent trainer left that doesn't require a Peloton-style subscription.

It's worked well for us. The only crappy part was the pedals, but the manufacturer expects those to be replaced. My son likes SPD clips so we use those with an adapter for shoes. The magnetic resistance is easy to adjust and quiet. Unlike trainers that attach to a bicycle it's easy to move and adjust for different heights (in our home 4'11" to 5'11"). There's a mount for iPad and a USB power out.

The trainer connects with Zwift on my son's iPad via Bluetooth and transfers the calculated power output. So if you adjust the magnetic resistance but keep a constant pedaling cadence then the power output goes up. The power output is reflected in Zwift cycling speeds. Unlike more expensive units the resistance doesn't vary based on the Zwift simulated course -- but if you go "uphill" in the simulation your power output converts to slower speeds.  So it works.

It comes with a heart monitor that worked when we tested it but we never use it.

It weighs 106 lbs and comes with front wheels that make it easy for me to move. That turned out to be much more important than I expected, we move it around depending on what we're doing in the home gym.

Besides Zwift (my son has a subscription for $15/month) I tested connecting it to a bundled "" and "".  You can't connect to an Apple Watch. ExploreTheWorld came with 4 free videos ws not very interesting.

Peloton is all classes ... lots and lots of classes. It behaves like a real iOS app with a slick signup. You get 1 month free then it's $14/user. You have to adjust the resistance yourself, the Peloton app can't change it.

Zwift is simulated rides with an avatar and lots and lots of group rides and routes. The UI is pretty crude on an iPad, I think it's made for a giant low res display or maybe a remote monitor. You get 23KM free then it's $15/user/month. We got a Zwift account for my son, the rest of us just watch our iPad or use the trainer for intervals in our family CrossFit workouts.