We Boomers are a bit disoriented. Despite our capacity for denial and access to tons of moisturizers, supplements, and cosmetic procedures, our bodies have betrayed us. We’re not sure how it happened, but we are aging, and unlike previous generations, we aren’t prepared to quietly accept the aches and stiffness. Great news! According to Dr. Frank Wildman, we don’t have to creak and groan any longer.
Wildman’s book, Change Your Age, offers us a way to “feel younger, stronger, and more fit,” and his method does not involve the legwarmers and Spandex of the ‘80s. Best of all, there’s no sweating required, either.
The Change Your Age program incorporates basic principles of the Feldenkrais Method, which Wildman has practiced for decades. This system of body work, developed by Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais, stresses awareness of movement to increase agility and reduce pain. What does simply becoming more aware of our movement have to do with feeling better? It’s a matter of habit. Most of us have seen old people pushing themselves out of chairs or doing the shuffle-walk. These sneaky habits creep up on us and become ingrained before we realize we’ve adopted them. Wildman invites us to pay attention to the body’s habitual ways, recognize the physical stress they create, and experiment with different, more youthful movements.
This is no flash-in-the-pan trend. Since Moshe Feldenkrais began developing the method in the 1940s in an effort to heal his own knee injury, tens of thousands of people have used his techniques to increase range of motion, flexibility, and balance. With a phenomenal success rate, the Feldenkrais Method is still relatively unknown, largely because of the difficulty in understanding Feldenkrais’s written instructions and in finding a certified trainer.
Wildman has built upon the basics by addressing the psychology of movement, but his most important contribution to body work and the Feldenkrais Method is his ability to explain the system in a way that the general reader can understand. In his new book, Wildman delivers simple exploratory sessions that are designed to be done anywhere without props and can be accomplished in only a few minutes. By structuring the book in this way, Wildman makes the sessions even more accessible and provides simple exercises that can be done during a work break or, in some cases, while waiting in line at the bank or the post office.
Change Your Age combines the clear and personal writing style of Dr. Wildman with minimalist black-and-white photos of a real person (i.e. not a stick-thin lingerie model) to demonstrate the exercises. The book begins with a series of body-mind assessment charts that help the reader determine which areas of current fitness programs help or harm. As you progress through the book, you’ll find lessons for what Wildman calls “the five core positions” – lying, sitting, kneeling, crouching and standing. Wildman also includes information to help each reader develop a personalized routine that can be adapted over time.
Change Your Age does not include promises of firmer abs in five days. In fact, there is no indication of just when the benefits will kick in because the Feldenkrais Method isn’t an instant gratification system. Readers will need a genuine commitment to physical health, and a long-lasting desire for a more youthful body in order to stick to the program. For those readers, however, Change Your Age is a gift that keeps on giving. The structure of the book is as thoughtfully designed as the method itself, and the instructions are simple enough for even a foggy-brained Boomer to follow. Now that we’ve outgrown the frantic and manic fitness fads of our middle years, Change Your Age is just the thing to keep us grooving smoothly for the rest of our lives.