When I heard Jane Fonda at the age of 82 revived her 1980’s workout video for Tik-Tok, I realized it’s time for Generation X to remember the advice of Olivia Newton John and get physical. Since the pandemic shut us down, many people stuck at home are feeling the effects. I used to get ten thousand steps in a day, walking an 82-acre high school campus, but since March, I’ve been in my home office, stuck in front of Zoom and M-Teams meetings. I felt it immediately - in my back, in my butt, in my neck. And I’m in pretty good shape. Since working daily neighborhood walks into my day, and amping up my home workouts to avoid going stir crazy, I’ve actually lost weight and improved my overall wellness. When it comes to health, wellness, and fitness, those of us heading into our 50s need to take a cue from Jane Fonda. To that end, I’ve written a fun, nostalgic reminder and refresher about fitness for those who can and should be “Generation Xercise,” which I recently published on Medium:
In the early fall of 1981, the kids of Generation X were enticed to get in shape, or just pay attention to fitness, or at least entertain our adolescent selves watching others get sweaty. Oh, sure, we’d had the first two Rocky movies to get us up and moving, and the third film revolutionized the training montage for sports films in 1982. I know I had at least a few weeks of sprinting around the neighborhood and lifting make-shift weights in the basement after Rocky kicked Clubber Lane’s butt. But it was the early days of MTV that first got us going, or at least thinking about going. For that September featured the release of Olivia Newton John’s “Physical,” and both music videos and adolescent boys were never the same.
Now, as we head into our fifties and even approach retirement age, perhaps it’s time to remember that Aussie’s advice. It’s time for Generation X to get physical, to become Generation Xercise. I hate to say it, my friends, but we’ve gotten soft, and fitness is no longer optional. This is mandatory. We’re running out of time, and our waists can’t wait. A recent study out of England on the health of people in their 40s and 50s -- yeah, that’s us Gen X -- found we may live longer than the Boomers in front of us, but our overall health will be poorer. The sixty-plus age group was actually in better shape physically than we are at the same age. That’s not good. Living longer, but living in pain and sickness is a really cruel trick of the contemporary age, and we need to flip the narrative. Remember the dean from Animal House: “Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life.” Well, overweight, out of shape, lethargic, and generally grumpy is no way to go through retirement.