This is 80% of the battle for fitness over 50

madison walks in verona wi

written by john c ashworth


Yeah, you probably could argue that this is 80% of the battle at any age. I might agree, and when people ask me what my secret to staying fit has been over the course of my life, the first thing I always say is, “consistency.” I’ve NEVER stopped. Ever! And when I was younger I went after it pretty darn hard. Especially when I was playing soccer at a high level.

When you get to age fifty, though, your margin for error is gone!

You can no longer put it off, and especially if you haven’t been good about getting your exercise and staying fit in the earlier stages of your life, now is the time you must correct this. If you don’t, bad things can happen fast.

I began to notice this reality when I hit the age of 40. Ten years later, the idea is like an old friend.

Today was a great example of the mindset you must adopt if you’re going to stay with it for the long run and stop making excuses.

fitness over 50
“Yes! It was in fact that cold out. Allie wasn’t bothered. She didn’t need a hood :)” -John

You can see from the picture above, that even thought It’s April in Wisconsin, the weather can still be nasty; and over the last week the weather has been hard to accept. Cold, windy, overcast, and just downright miserable at times.

I snapped the photo above of Allie and I earlier this morning. We decided to venture out of the neighborhood and onto a new hiking path. I regretted it almost immediately after stepping out of the car. The wind hit me like a slap in the face, and I almost turned right around and went home to watch the Masters.

Instead, Allie and I toughed it out and though the wind and the cold were still somewhat miserable, we still got a nice walk, and on a new path that was challenging and hilly and perfect for a Sunday morning.

At home now, keeping track of the golf tournament, and getting things done, I’m more awake, my body is loosened-up, my mind is clear and I’m ready to be productive.

It would have been so easy to skip this walk today. And the weather is often an easy scapegoat. Instead, I go it done because I’ve come to rely on it so much. I really can’t live without it. It’s like breathing. Does it feel like that to you, yet?

As I make my way into my fifties I’ve gotten a glimpse of how I must continue to pursue this effort to stay strong, healthy, and ready.

It’s not always easy to maintain this kind of commitment to your fitness program. I get that. That’s why you can now find some kind of fitness offering taunting you in almost every strip mall across America. Has that changed our exercise habit? Not yet, I don’t think.

If you’re struggling to stay consistent, a good coach can help. A good coach, who has experience both personally and professionally in working with those over 50, can really help you identify what’s really important right now for your fitness and how can you take the first step today and then begin building on that momentum. If there was one place I had to choose where people go wrong in their pursuit of fitness, it lies in starting too fast too soon, and in mapping out a careful plan for progression as you become stronger, fitter, and more motivated. Yes, those things go together.

That’s the work I did for twenty plus years with clients until I became a full time salesman and business consultant. If you’re interested in talking about taking advantage of the small amount of coaching time I’ve made available this spring and summer, shoot me an email and we’ll talk. No pressure.


You can also always download a copy of my first book on the subject, by clicking here, and becoming a subscriber. I throw it in as a bonus for new subscribers.


Why what worked for Jack Lalanne in 1950 can work for YOU too

Good, solid, time-tested exercises and workouts do not become obsolete. What worked for Jack LaLanne in 1950, will still work for you today and for those still here in 2050.

The United States Military knows this better than anyone. Which is why they have stuck with essentially the same exercise and physical fitness programs for more than a hundred years. They are also a great example of how solid research identifies how to tweak these programs incrementally over time so that in aggregate they become stronger and stronger, much like their participants 🙂

Every new program you think you discover, or secret solution that suddenly manifests in front of you, is only a slight modification of those good, solid, time-tested, research- driven exercises and workouts that have been here all along. I could teach them to you in a few hours and that’s what my 4-session Kick-start program has always been about.

The problem is that this old school idea is not sexy like the new place on the corner touting some special blend of fitness that is somehow different than all others that came before it. Fools gold. A seductive deception presented as some credible and substantial and newly discovered scientific solution and break-through.

To be fair, in the pursuit of your peak health and fitness, many of these programs are valuable tools. The problem is in placing too much credibility on one or the other as the solution that trumps all others. Placing too much emphasis on the idea that there exists a panacea.

Inside The Ash Flash today, I have left for you one article and video from the archives that is proof of this reality. Proof that so many can so easily be fooled by a good story that taps ready emotions. A story, that when analyzed carefully, holds very little substance, and at the same time an allure that can fool YOU and many others into believing that this must be the way to your health, fitness and weight loss goals.


Top 10 GO-TO Workout Plans |

We all have that favorite workout that is the GO-TO plan when you miss your normal workout due to a variety of reasons such as a busy day at work, facilities closing early, and travel. Some people go back to a basic calisthenics circuit that they remember from the military, while other take a day off. Whatever your workout plan is today, sometimes life gets in the way and things happen. The pool closes early. The gym loses power. The basement is flooded and you have to deal with that problem first. Or you j

Source: Top 10 GO-TO Workout Plans |

My Workout Rules

written by john c ashworth

I’ve been coaching people for more than twenty years.  That means I’m significantly older than when I first started.  People are often curious about what I do for workouts and how I approach my own personal fitness, so I’ve shared it here.  Remember, each of us have to find out own path using the scientific guidelines we have established for training.  My training program is unique to a forty seven year old body that took a beating when I played soccer at a high level.  In addition, I have a very physical job as a car salesman right now.  I’m not always completely energized when I arrive at the gym.  Those are just a few of the nuances that affect my program.

Hope you learn something…


Workout Rules to Live by

  • Stay consistent no matter what. I don’t miss workouts. Even if I’m exhausted I will do something because it always makes me feel better.
  • I always swim after my strength training workouts. At this point it’s a must for recovery and my back. The water unloads your back by almost half. This calms down post workout inflammation and prevents excessive soreness. It is also completely energizing.
  • I perform a wide variety of movements and change them all the time.  Some involve weight and others involve just my body weight.  I generally choose weight that I can lift 5-15 times with good technique.  Sometimes I go heavier than others.
  • I ALWAYS perform pull-ups and push-ups.  For me, these are benchmark movements that I feel I should be able to do my whole life if I’m following principle #1.  If I begin to falter with these, I know I haven’t been doing enough.
  • I NEVER squat with the bar on my back anymore.
  • I walk as often as I can.
  • I stretch and perform my yoga routine three to four days per week.
  • I roll on the foam roll almost every night before bed.

Overall, a very simple set of rules.  The trick is in building your own personal set of rules, and just as important, your own personal set of movements that you have the skill to perform with good technique.  That’s where most people go wrong.  Proper progression of your fitness program takes time, expertise, and a careful combination of patience, hard work, and constant adjustment so that you are always improving, even if just one small tick at a time.


[fitness friday] 5 Tips for your New Year Fitness Program

Here are my 5 tips for making your new year fitness program stick this year!

John Ashworth, MA, CES
The Fitness Nomad

Here are my top 5 tips for your new year fitness program.

I will present these in-person and live with Leigh Mills on NBC15 this evening.

  1. Back away from the cardiovascular exercise.  We all tend to think this way when it comes to the gym and your fitness program.  People head in droves to the lines of cardiovascular exercise equipment and then spend hours and hours cranking away only to find diminishing returns for the increasing amounts of time they put in.The problem: BOREDOM & MORE BOREDOM, as well as the fact that beyond about 20-30 minutes, you’re not gaining much benefit from the time you are putting in.  You would be much better off ramping up your exercise program with interval training, more strength training and that 7-minute workout I covered with Leigh Mills about a month ago.
  2. Step up the Strength Training.  This one is the second point to #1 above.  Most people either leave out strength training altogether, perform very little of it, or choose routines that are easy and that NEVER change.  Remember, this form of exercise is not only essential for your weight loss and overall success, but this routine MUST be designed by an expert, and it MUST change regularly in meaningful and specific ways so that you gain the full benefits it can provide.  This is the #2 reason people abandon this form of exercise in the first place.  The first reason is that it’s hard, so they choose easy stuff and don’t get results.  Results don’t come, and so they give up!  This is one of the greatest benefits to hiring an expert personal trainer to help you.
  3. Try something new.  We all know how boring the same old exercise program can become.  Choosing something new will keep you excited and motivated and hopefully staying with it for more than just the first few weeks of January.
  4. Don’t be overzealous. It’s a good thing that you’re excited and that your finally ready to get serious about your health and fitness program and improve your life dramatically as a result.  The only problem is that now it can be all to easy to over do it.  As a personal fitness coach for many years now, I have seen this happen again and again, especially at this time of the year.  Try and keep in mind that if you really are in this for the long run, your big new year push to get going is only the first step, and it doesn’t have to be a gigantic one.  You just need to get started.  Doing too much too soon is one of the quickest ways to an injury that might prevent you from doing anything.
  5. Stay away from the gym.  I know.  I can hear you already.  ”Stay away from the gym?  But what do you mean?”  First of all, don’t get me wrong, I’m trying to make a point.  Especially for someone not used to attending the gym regularly, the environment can be extra intimidating this time of year.  It’s crowded with lots of other folks on the same new year’s resolution path as you.  It stinks a little, in spite of what the sales manager might have told you, it is NOT the answer to all your prayers.  One great example of this is the fact that if you’re not regularly attending the gym now, you’re going to have to get used to the extra time in your life that you need to get there, workout, shower, and then get on with your day.  This is a habit that will take time to form, and when it does not go smoothly over the next few weeks, it could derail your motivation.

Lastly, be realistic. This is the rest of your life we’re talking about. One step at a time.


[fitness friday] Our unfit youth


written by john c ashworth, ma, cscs

Here’s the LINK to the VIDEO segment!

A new study from the CDC reports that over the last 10 years, regardless of a family’s economic status, our nation’s young people have become increasingly unfit every year over the last 10 years.

A small, yet hidden example of why this is happening, occurred yesterday when my son Carl came home and complained that he couldn’t get one of his friends out to play. Instead, his neighborhood pal was entranced inside a game of Mindcraft, victim of the alluring temptation to stay inside in front of the screen rather than venture outside into a literally perfect day of summer.

This fact, along with a variety of other factors, are leading to an unfit youth population. It seems every day we hear another story about the perils of childhood overweight and obesity and the adolescent diabetes that often results.  All of which begins, with a lack of movement and a general lack of willingness to go outside and play.  A problem that is apparently getting worse.  This is a disturbing trend for which me must find a solution. Parents, schools and anyone else with an influence on younger individuals have an important responsibility to help find ways to motivate kids to move more and sit less.

The facts here are disturbing. The minimum recommendation for physical activity for kids is an hour per day.  However, less than a third of kids today are getting at least an hour a day of physical activity.  Previous research looked more closely at the amounts of physical activity kids were getting and found that in most cases the volume of physical activity kids were getting was peeking by the age of 10 and sometimes as low as the age of two. What we didn’t know is exactly how this was affecting the fitness levels of our children. This new study took a closer look at that.

Today, trends show that the majority of kids today are spending 8 to 10 hours in front of the screen. With those times peeking and even increasing above those numbers during summertime when they’re out of school. Which is essentially what was happening yesterday when Carl tried to entice his friend outside, and was unsuccessful.

For this new study, researchers from the CDC turned to NHANES data.   NHANES OR the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey is a collection of long-term data on the health habits of Americans.  As reported by The New York Times during this investigation, C.D.C. scientists expanded on the usual annual NHANES telephone questioning by inviting some respondents to visit a mobile physiology lab for more extensive physical testing. In 2012, they recruited a group of about 450 boys and girls ages 12 to 15 representing a variety of ethnic groups and socioeconomic circumstances.

Researchers compared the fitness levels of these kids to benchmarks recently set by the CDC. Unfortunately what they found, was that very few of these young individuals fell into what is known as the ” healthy fitness zone.”  Overall only about 42% of the young individuals fell into this healthy fitness zone. That number was even lower for girls at 34%, while about 50% of the boys found themselves in this “healthy fitness zone.”

As stated before, the results were not contingent upon income level or poverty status.  In other words children from affluent families were just as unfit as children from families below the poverty line.  Probably the most disturbing finding, however, was the fact that fitness level overall over the last 10 years has decreased at a rate of 10%, or 1% per year. Hence, in spite of the well-known facts about how unhealthy our kids are becoming, and the problem of increased rates of type two diabetes, resulting in shorter lifespans then their parents, we have not made any progress in helping to make kids more fit.  In fact, the opposite is true.

The Solution?

More exercise and More parental involvement!

If you have children, you can no longer avoid physical activity, because YOU set the example.  It’s one thing if you’re making a choice not be physically fit yourself.  Still unacceptable in my opinion, but still your choice.  It’s completely another when this attitude and belief system affects your children in such negative ways.

One strategy I’ve implemented recently in my own family is to invest in the Jawbone Up 24 constant activity tracker for both myself and my kids.  This unique device has increased awareness in our household immensely around good nutrition and exercise.  Tune in to the Fitness Friday segment in two weeks for part 2 of this topic where I will detail how and why implementing a system like the Jawbone Up24 can help you and your kids increase your awareness and as a result, your fitness levels.



[Fitness Friday] Why Doctors Worry about Kids’ Bones, and why I hope this post gets you Hopping Mad…

Why Doctors Worry about Kids’ Bones, and why I hope this post gets you Hopping Mad…

written by john c ashworth

There are three critical ingredients for bone growth in kids.

Exercise, Calcium, and Vitamin D.

Recent research reveals that kids are not getting enough of any of them.

Calcium, the building block of bone, is a mineral that our own bodies cannot produce, and therefore must be absorbed from the food we eat or the supplements we take. And when it comes to kids, this usually means drinking milk, which is one of the best dietary sources of Calcium there is. To get the minimum 1300mg of Calcium per day that is recommended, however, kids need to drink 4-5 eight ounce glasses of milk every day.

Sounds like a lot, right?

If you have kids to feed, you know the answer to that question is an emphatic, YES! Especially when you compare it to how much milk your kids might actually drink every day. I have one who continually works diligently to leave her milk glass half empty on the kitchen table every time she eats. It turns out, I’m not alone.

Only 15% of kids between the ages of 9 and 14 or 15 (when puberty begins), get at least three glasses of milk per day consistently. And worse, only 9% of girls.

This has led to the fact that currently, only 70% of boys and 30% of girls actually get the calcium they need every day in order or to maximize their bone growth during these crucial years of 9-14 or 15 when puberty begins. Some doctors say that research is also showing a resulting increase in bone fractures in this population of kids.

Making the problem even more vexing, is the fact that kids also don’t get enough Vitamin D, which is essential for calcium absorption in the body. so, not only are they drinking less milk than recommended, but the absorption of the Calcium in that milk is also being hindered by a lack of Vitamin D.

Exercise Saves The Day

Thankfully, and as always, a little exercise can go a long way to help maximize the development of your kids’ bones and bodies when they are young. Specifically, bouncing is what builds bones. In other words, you need to get kids jumping! Jumping rope, playing hopscotch, doing jumping jacks, or practicing their broad jump. Whatever it takes…old school, baby!

In a study from Canada, just a few minutes of jumping each day between classes led to significant increases in bone mass in kids. The total amount of jumping equated to about 15 minutes per day. And I think the key to the success of this study is that they had the kids perform just a little bit at a time.

Fifteen minutes of jumping can be a lot all at once, so spreading it throughout the day makes it more tolerable and more fun. In addition, all that regular and consistent jumping doesn’t just build bones, it likely builds more energized kids who are better able to focus during long days of sitting in the classroom.

Tonight on NBC 15 with Leigh Mills here in Madison, WI, I’m bringing the kids on with me to demonstrate some fun and fast ways to get your kids jumping!

…by the way, you can join them. Jumping is excellent for your bones too 🙂