A few weeks ago Target published a newly unveiled ad campaign for their activewear line, C9 Champion, in which it features real people of all sizes, abilities, and “ages.” The preface to the article stated, “An athlete is anyone who moves their body for the fun and thrill of moving it, regardless of size or ability,” and another “No matter your size, shape, ability, or activity, there is no wrong way to be an athlete.”
The ad is commendable and includes a woman with a missing hand climbing a rope and a hefty teenage ballerina doing pirouettes. And I give kudos to Upworthy.com for featuring the ad, and for this, “Note: We were not paid by Target to promote this (we would tell you!). We just think it’s just awesome to see some diverse representation in ads.” I couldn’t agree more.
But what caught my attention was, even though they mention “all ages” there didn’t appear to be any seniors in the ad. Now maybe I’m naive to think that Target’s idea of “all ages” might be different than mine, and that their target (no pun intended) audience is likely youth and young families, I think they could have added at least one awesome senior participating in “athletics.”
Because I’m an active “athletic” senior I take notice of how many seniors there actually are participating in athletic activities. Like 92-year-old gymnast, Joanna Quass, swimmer Laura Val (65-69 age group) who set her 75th global standard for women in the 60-64 age group, then as a new member of the 65-69 division, she took down world records 28 more times in 23 events, and 73-year-old cancer survivor Rich Burns, International Masters Swimming Hall of Fame swimmer and holder of 56 FINA Masters World Records. (I had the thrill of competing against both Laura and Rich in the 2017 Bay Area Senior Games in Palo Alto, CA, though thankfully not in the same age group – and I didn’t break any world records.)
OK. I understand that these outstanding senior athletes possess a lot of natural ability and drive. But you don’t need to be a superior human specimen to be an athlete. As Nike’s slogan says, Just Do It. Get out and participate in some athletic activity – whether you compete or not – such as playing Pickleball, basketball, or shuffleboard, running, paddling, swimming, or bicycling.
How about 101-year-old Ida Keeling winning gold in the 100-meter dash at the World Masters Games in April. And she didn’t start running until she was 94! It’s never too late to find your athletic mojo.
And more importantly, it’s even more critical that seniors participate in vigorous activities, whether they think of themselves as athletes or not, for their physical health and well-being as the aging process – at least for now – cannot be stopped. But it can be slowed down, and it can make quality of life so much better. I would like to emphasize that thought – exercise can make quality of life so much better.