Rant-o-rama: 40 doth not a masters maketh

Posted: June 14, 2013 in Masters Competition, Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

So there I was at the Southeast Regionals, minding my own business and hitting people up for donations at the booth for our local Steve’s Club, when a couple of guys came by and asked if I was competing in Clash of the Fittest. “Nope,” I told them.

“Well, a woman on our master’s team dropped out and we need a replacement. Wanna do it?”

Now, I did not know these guys from Adam but I could see no reason to break my 50+ year string of saying “yes” to strange men, so I said “Heck ya!”

The competition is this Saturday and I’m sure it will be a blast – as soon as I locate my teammates. But I am already miffed about the whole “Masters” division thing. More specifically, who the f#ck decided 40 is old enough to be in the Master’s division? Are you kidding me? Hell, at 40 I didn’t even have gray hair and I could stay up late enough to watch Saturday Night Live.

Why am I – 54-years-old – competing against 40-year-olds?

Louis, me and Pete: Team Masters of the Universe

Louis, me and Pete: Team Masters of the Universe

I’ve been posing that question to event organizers – minus the f-bomb. They don’t seem to give a rat’s butt about menopause and sarcopenia. (Up until your 30’s, your muscles grow larger and stronger. Then you slowly begin to lose muscle mass and function – a natural process called age-related sarcopenia.)

According to a study at Washington University, post-menopausal women are less able to use protein from their diets to build muscle mass. Estrogen – and the lack of it – is the culprit. Women over 50 produce less estrogen than younger, pre-menopausal women, which contributes to significant losses in muscle mass. The study also found that women have a harder time preserving muscle than men of the same age.

Did you hear that Mr. Event Organizer? I’m not just some whiney old bitch who wants on that podium (actually, I kind of am.) Menopause seriously diminishes women’s ability to maintain and increase muscle mass. Because menopause usually occurs around age 50, lumping a 40-year-old woman at the tail-end of her child bearing years with a post-menopausal queen like me just ain’t fair.
Why am I making such a big deal about this? Because competition is fun! We don’t  lose that itch to get in the ring just because we’ve seen a lot more sunsets than you. We still have game. Some of us who have been athletes our whole lives are willing to get in the ring with a 40-year-old. But you’re going to scare a lot of folks away unless you level the playing field.
How? Just scale the damn weights. We can all compete in a single Masters’ Division, but scale the weights or movements by age. For example, instead of #75 thrusters for all Masters’ women, scale the weight to #65 for women over 50 and scale again to #55 for women over 55 or 60.
Is that so hard?
Why is any of this important to anyone under 40? Because someday, grasshopper, you’re going to get smacked upside the head with your parents’ aging. You are going to have to figure out what to do with mom after she breaks her hip or dad after his open heart surgery. As someone who has been there and done that, you want to delay that day as long as possible.
You are also going to have kids someday and you are going to want your parents to be in good health so they can play with their grandkids. I’m not talking about playing video games with the grandkids. I’m talking about PLAYING with the grandkids. Like skiing, tennis and shooting hoops with the grandkids. I’m talking about taking the kids for a week so you can go on a grown-up vacation to Las Vegas! Comprende?
Trust me, it behooves you to encourage older people to stay fit. That older lady you watched work her way from 12-inch box step-ups to an 18-inch box jump just might train a little harder and have a little more fun if she had a shot at competing with  women her age. Maybe even get a pair of Chuck Taylor’s and some knee-highs.
You never know.
  1. You’re just awesome. I love this blog!

  2. Dana Lynch says:

    I tried competing with the 20-year olds yesterday Christine and I gotta say, I need an intermediate Masters. At 42, and in a premenopausal state, I can’t keep up with them! But I’m sure there will be a giant leap (off a sharp cliff) in my fitness within the next 10 years.

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