Craig Hill: Expert says you’re never too old to get moving again

Competitors in the Subaru Cyclo Cup cyclocross race carry their bikes through an intentionally muddy run-up in an open race at Fort Steilacoom Park in Lakewood in 2015.
Competitors in the Subaru Cyclo Cup cyclocross race carry their bikes through an intentionally muddy run-up in an open race at Fort Steilacoom Park in Lakewood in 2015. dperine@thenewstribune.com

Answers to important questions nobody has asked me yet:

Q: What’s the smartest way to start getting active again if I’m older and haven’t exercised in several years?

A: Earlier this year, I asked that very question of trainer Todd Dail. A fitness director at a Bonney Lake 55-and-older community, Dail has helped numerous older clients rediscover active lifestyles.

First, Dail stresses everybody should respect their age and their situation, but they shouldn’t use it as an excuse.

“A friend of mine, a physical therapist, says, ‘Motion is lotion,’ ” Dail said. “And it’s true. The more you move, the more you lubricate your joints, and it starts to feel good again.”

Find a place where you feel comfortable starting and start, Dail said. That might be a fitness class at your local gym, a personal trainer or a program specifically for older people.

But first do your homework.

“My advice is to always ask questions,” Dail said. “Watch a class. Talk to the people in the class. Talk to the instructors. Because if you’re nervous about doing that movement, the worst thing that can happen is to get through that door, and you get working too hard, you get ignored and you hurt yourself. Then you won’t step through that door again.”

Dail recommends checking out the participants to make sure they are similar in age to you. “If they are plus or minus 20 years instead of five years, you probably aren’t in the right class.”

Interview the instructor or personal trainer before you pay for a program. Make sure they have a nationally recognized certification and they assess your ability to participate without injury.

“Ask them, ‘Have you trained anybody like me?’ ” said Dail, who earned a kinesiology degree at Washington State University. “Not all trainers are created equal. Have they worked with somebody with double knee replacements, somebody who is on heart medication or somebody who has arthritis?”

Just as importantly, Dail said, is to not get in your own way. Be realistic, but also be willing to question what you think are your limitations.

“I have a lot of people tell me, ‘I don’t have any balance,’ ” Dail said. “I say, ‘When is the last time you worked on your balance?’ 

Dail says one of the best parts of his job is seeing his clients break through what they thought was a limitation. “It’s really cool to see people make changes in their lives.”

Q: Hey, isn’t it cyclocross season?

A: Yes, cyclrocross season is underway, and much of the remainder of this season will play out in the South Sound.

Cyclocross is bicycle racing that unfolds on small courses with varied terrain. It’s often described as a cross between mountain and road biking. Most courses have sections or obstacles that require participants to dismount and carry their bikes. Races are held rain or shine, and participants might be coated in mud by the time they finish.

Cyclocross also tends to draw larger fields than any other form of bike racing in the Northwest. In recent years, the two Seattle-based race series started staging more races in the South Sound. This year is no exception. The South Sound hosts four races before Thanksgiving.

Cross Revolution hosts three of those races. On Oct. 9, it will race at Spanaway’s Sprinker Recreation Center. Cross Revolution also has races planned for Oct. 23 at Graham’s Frontier Park and Nov. 20 at Tacoma’s Swan Creek Park.

With 30 races (some run simultaneously) at each event, there are categories for all types, including advanced, kids and beginners.

The MFG series hosts an Oct. 30 race at Spanaway’s Marymount Event Center. It is MFG’s third year staging races on the property.

Other races in the area this season include Cross Revolution’s Nov. 6 event at Enumclaw’s King County Fairgrounds and the Nov. 27 season-ender at North SeaTac Park.

Visit cross-revolution.com and mfgcyclocross.com for more information.

Q: What’s the latest on Mount Rainier’s permit program?

A: Mount Rainier National Park is testing a new computerized wilderness permit system after a March storm damaged the old system beyond repair.

The park used a first-come, first-served system to get through a busy summer (more than 2,000 permit requests). In recent weeks it was also simultaneously testing a new system.

“Work on the new reservation system is ongoing, and the intent is still to have it in place for use next summer,” park superintendent Randy King said via email.

Before the storm, the park was already working with the University of Washington Information School to develop a modern permit system that would be easier for users and park staff. The new system will allow visitors to book permits online rather than fax in their requests.

For a sneak peek at the system, King suggests checking out the online reservation system at Utah’s Canyonlands National Park.

Mount Rainier’s 2017 permit request period opens in March.