The Age Performance Blog: The Ballet Bar

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When you think of someone who has a perfect squat pattern, can touch her toes (palms to floor actually) with straight legs and scores in the 90th percentile for women in the 65 age group on the Rikli Jones Senior Fitness Assessment, you probably don’t think of a 97 year old.  She’s a 97 year old that we will keep anonymous, but will be named Jodie for the purpose of this article. She catches us all by surprise in a very good way.

In a recent training session, Jodie mentioned that she had installed a “bar” in her bathroom. Stunned, many different thoughts came to my mind. “Oh no, Jodie, not the dreaded grab bar” that many older adults will install to reduce the risk of falls. I thought “oh no, Jodie is finally having difficulties, “and oh no, not you Jodie, you’re everyone’s pinnacle picture of performance in later years.” After a few moments of confusion, Jodie seemed concerned for my state and I finally I was able to speak, so I asked her if she has been having difficulties getting out of the tub or bathroom. The look on her face was priceless. She responded proudly, “No, it’s not a GRAB bar, it’s a BALLET bar.” She had this ballet bar installed to do stretches, body weight squats, etc. I was relieved to hear the news that our poster child was more than fine, and still surprising me.

Seventeen years ago, Jodie came to us in great shape of years of constantly moving, stretching and being physically active through skiing, tennis, golf, and other activities. Because of her diligence to remain physically active, she has lost very little during that seventeen-year time span. Jodie has always been proactive about her health and physical function, so it’s amazing she is still finding ways to stay mobile in any way she can by simply putting a ballet bar in her bathroom. This determination and focused attention to staying mobile has served her so well in her late 90’s. There may be a time when Jodie does need a grab bar, and if she ever does it will be well deserved at that point. But as for now, she will keep it at a ballet bar, and because of Jodie, I too, may install a ballet bar in my bathroom.


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