Sunday, October 7, 2007

There is hope in hell!

Nonsense! All this talk of Twenty20 being a sport for pretty young twenty some-things in tights (I meant the Aussies, not the cheer leaders), to borrow a phrase from a man whose only connection with the number 20 today would be the number of strands he hides under his bowler (it’s the hat, silly!), is ‘utter roobish!’

The all conquering Indian team might have an average age of 24, but that can’t take away from the fact that the highest run scorer in the tournament is a hulking, super strong, super fit 36 year old called Matt Hayden; the top wicket taker till the semi-finals was the 32-year-old Stuart Clarke; the fastest and only bowler with a hat-trick in the format was a 31 year old flash of greased lightning called Brett Lee and the man who almost took the ‘cup’ away from parched Indian lips was the 33 year old Misbah ul Haque. The point is, youth, in practically every sense and spirit of the word, is a function of fitness, not age.

Now all of you who are still not 30, stop sniggering and keep reading, because you’ll get there before you know it. And fellow 30 year olds, realise, that the 30s is the glorious decade of synergy where mind and body peak in unison and it is the things we do in this decade that determine our future biological and social success and longevity. I know what you are thinking – the trousers don’t fit, you are still wondering where Samantha Fox might’ve disappeared, and worse than the kids calling you ‘uncle’ is the realisation that the grizzled ‘auto-wallahs’ you once addressed as uncle, today call you ‘bhai-sahab’. You have no idea when that six-pack became a barrel, and when you traded in that gym membership for a leisurely night walk – to help with the digestion. If that is where you stand in life and find my assertions hard to believe, let me tell you about another man in his 30s.

Born in Illinois, this man led a fairly active life during his early youth. But somewhere along the way, our hero let go of his fitness lifestyle. He packed on the pounds and became terribly overweight– more than a 100 slobby kgs at 5’9”. At this juncture in his life, he thought of joining the army and showed up for his physical entrance exam for the 10th Mountain Division. One of the most basic preliminary tests to qualify was a two mile run. Joe, for that’s what our hero is named, set off from the starting line with a host of other aspirants and while the runners kept up a steady pace, our embarrassingly unfit misfit fell further behind. ‘Young’ Joe gasped and flapped, stumbled and staggered and finally collapsed in a jiggly-wiggly rotund heap, literally miles before the finishing line as the other runners disappeared over the horizon. Ashamed and disgusted with himself, Joe swore he would turn back the clock as he spat out the sand.

Some years later, on a cold December day in Potomac, Maryland USA, a not so young Joe, now in his 30s, ran 10 miles, cycled across another 100, walked and hiked over 15 more, swam, skied and rowed his way across another 28; then followed that up with ‘4000 reps of calisthenics and crunches’ and lifted a cumulative total of 50,160 lbs to successfully complete Guinness’ 24-Hour Fitness Challenge to emerge as the ‘World’s Fittest Man’. If you leaf through the pages of a Guinness Book of Records, you’ll see the name of Joe Decker adorning that title.

That was in the year 2000. Since that day, Decker had been featured in some of the world’s most popular publications like GQ, People and The Washington Post as a beacon of health and fitness in an ageing and obese world. Today, Decker is a celebrated personal trainer, and you might catch him endorsing fitness products on television. But he experiences his greatest high when he competes at some of the toughest foot races in the world and announces, ‘If I can, anybody can!’

So, fellow 30 something year olds (and don’t feel excluded, dear Sachin and Sourav), don’t you believe them when they say that you are too old for anything, least of all, T20 cricket. Enough of the high-fives around the television. Pull up your socks, tuck that chest of yours – that has slipped a few inches – inside that track pant and start running… your life.

How old is 30?

Come on, 30 isn’t really a time when we need to worry about ageing and its effects. Right? Wrong! The 30’s is a tricky period - a time in life when we refuse to acknowledge that our bodies are any different from when we were in our 20s.The signs are all there –the slight graying of the side burns, the layers gathering around the mid-riff, the gentle wheeze that accompanies our trudge up a flight of stairs – but we refuse to see them. The truth is that with each passing year during this treacherous time, our metabolism slows down and we start losing lean muscle mass. And if we don’t do anything about it, one day, we’ll just wake up to see a fat, old stranger in the mirror.

However the truth is that it is possible to be super fit in one’s 30s and 40s, but it does take regular exercise, a clean diet and a little more time and care than what might’ve been the case in our 20s or teens. Having said that, I must reiterate that great shape and excellent health is an achievable goal at any age.


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