Pumping Iron as a Golden Ager
By Nancy Sartor
I’m a golden ager by several years. My day job kept me on my feet, moving, walking downtown sidewalks, etc. When retirement allowed me to devote all my time to writing, I soon realized that writers sit. We sit to write. We sit to read. Nobody stands at a book signing, and taking a walk during a signing cuts into sales. Although writer’s conferences are usually held in huge hotels, the distance from the classrooms to the nearest bar or elevator isn’t enough to count as a workout.
Writers who wish to stay fit and keep their health must plan for exercise.
I live near Nashville so winters aren’t as cold as Chicago’s or (shiver) Wisconsin’s, but they’re not warm enough for outside exercise. Spring and fall are glorious here, and usually the perfect temperature for everything except swimming. Summer is hellishly hot and humid as a greenhouse.
I needed a convenient exercise program that I could perform in relative comfort.
Weightlifting fit perfectly. Our house is large enough for an indoor gym. I found a used weight bench, bar and weights, bought weightlifting gloves to protect my arthritic hands, and a book so I would know what I was doing.
I won’t lie to you—the first two weeks were hell. I chose a workout that touched every part of my body. By the end of the week, I was limping from room to room protesting the need to move at all. But somewhere beneath all that pain, a part of me was incredibly proud. I’d worked out with weights despite my age, despite the arthritis, despite the lethargy that wanted me to keep sitting. (After all, it would coo in my ear. You’re doing so well today. Write another hour. Then you can work out) I quickly learned to shut down that siren song.
The next week wasn’t so bad. By the end of the month, I looked forward to my workouts, enjoyed seeing how many lifts I could do. I crawled out of the room spent, my muscles exhausted and crying for rest. But within a few minutes, I felt twenty years younger and had enough energy to dance the night away.
I looked forward to leaving the house, to testing out my new muscles, to seeing how far I could walk, how high I could climb before I had to stop. I wasn’t fifty again, but I wasn’t eighty, either. I’d found a way to balance the years, to give myself a life not hampered by physical weakness.
My workout is lighter now—not in deference to my age, but because I was building large muscles in places I didn’t want large muscles. I bench press a total of 70 reps each set, do 50 sideways skull crushers and 20 bicep curls. I am now up to 40 crunches with ten more on either side for the obliques, and a thirty-minute walk on the treadmill.
The bonus? While I’m working out, I often get my very best writing ideas.
Nancy Sartor is a Nashville born writer, a charter member and current president of Word Spinners Ink, a member of RWA, MWA and SiNC and current recording secretary of SEMWA. She is an enthusiastic graduate of Donald Maass’s Breakout Novel Intensive Workshop, Don Maass’s workshop on micro tension and the Writer’s Police Academy.
She lives in Rural Hill, Tennessee, just east of Nashville with her husband, classical composer and conductor David Sartor, and two Maine Coon cats. Ginger, the older cat, is part of the cast of BONES ALONG THE HILL. Autumn Fire, the younger cat, is so far unsigned for a role, but she did gain a reference in CHRISTMAS ACROSS TIME.
To date, Nancy has three novels in print: BONES ALONG THE HILL, a dark suspense set in Nashville; CHRISTMAS ACROSS TIME, a paranormal based the real ghost known as the Opryland Black Lady, and BLESSED CURSE, a paranormal set in historic Rugby, Tennessee. She is currently working on a sequel to BONES ALONG THE HILL.