A while back a friend sent me a You Tube video. The video featured a man who lived in one of those far off destinations in South America, so remote that civilization consists of small huts and a witch doctor. Okay, maybe not a witch doctor but the craziest part was that the man was 80 or so and looked like he was in his twenties with the mobility, energy, and excitement of a 6-year-old! His philosophy was to play, and that he did, every day. He made it his life’s mission to create a backyard equipped with beams made of old piping, balance boards made of reclaimed wood, and hanging bar contraptions utilizing trees and ropes. They showed clips from neighboring towns people who were weary of his practices, but amazed by his physical appeared because it showed the evidence of his play at work.
The video sat in my brain dormant for quite some time, until I realized more and more the value of play when I was ice skating with my family this past February. It started with a little game of tag on the ice with my younger brother Matthew who always finds a way to bring me back to playing like I am 14 again. Somehow we managed to rope my Mom into our game, who then poked my Aunt.
The best part about the experience was witnessing the lifelong bond between sisters my Mom and my Aunt have. A simple game of tag gave me a glimpse of what it was like to see them when they were 8 and 9 years old, playing. My mom’s face lit up, her skates dug hard into the ice trying to maneuver to not get caught by my Aunt who was “it”.
It occurred to me that movement does this to you, it brings joy, or maybe even brings joy in a challenging way. I think that play is the draw to most of the unique obstacle course races, triathlons, and fitness studios that explore new, ways of training. There are definitely physical boundaries to overcome but the best part about training for an obstacle course is that you don’t feel like you’re working out, you feel like there is a deeper mission to your work and you become more fulfilled. On the back-end, like the man in the you tube video, you are able to reap the benefits of being both physically and mentally fit.
In this issue, we dive into our 2016 Spring Events (pg. 10) the ultimate guide for adults at play offering race events, triathlons, and obstacle courses to help you defy any limiting belief you may have of running in the mud, running 26-miles, or even a 5K. Michelle Collie discusses injuries that may keep you from playing full out and how to get back on track (pg. 37). Ryan McGowan from Laid-back Fitness shows kids how to take their play to the next level with featured birthday parties and exciting Ninja Warrior training classes (pg. 39). And lastly, we bring to you, What We Don’t Use, We Lose, a featured story about the importance of keeping your body moving even as you age (pg. 26).
As Spring approaches, get out there and play. Do something you’ve always wanted to do but never thought you’d physically be able to, like my friend Bob, he started riding his bike at age 70! Playing and exploring is likely what will keep you feeling young and alive. I’m beginning to think that maybe that man in South America truly found the fountain of youth.