Team Strong Silvers / @teamstrongsilvers
A group of senior citizens who practice calisthenics (bodyweight exercises consisting of a variety of movements that exercise large muscle groups) almost daily, between the ages of 60 to 80, probably stronger than you
We may seem intimidating when you first see us doing our thing. After all, it’s not every day you come across senior citizens in their sixties, seventies and eighties casually doing muscle-ups, bent-arm planches and one-armed pushups. But that’s the kind of message we want to send. We want to change people’s perceptions of senior citizens. We want to normalize senior citizens exercising, and, in doing so, show everyone, senior citizens in particular, that they can keep fit and healthy even in old age, even if they have existing ailments and injuries. Being fit and healthy in old age is important for so many simple but overlooked reasons. We want to be able to live long enough to take care of and play with our grandchildren, especially now that people tend to have children later. Being fit and healthy also gives us independence in the sense that we don’t have to rely heavily on other people. We can venture out to buy whatever we need on our own, with money we’ve earned from the part-time jobs we are able to hold down.
It may seem ironic, but one of our criteria for the recruitment of members is they shouldn’t look too muscular. Our goal is to portray an accessible and attainable form of fitness to our fellow senior citizens. If they see that we look just like them, they are more likely to believe that being fit and healthy is something they can achieve too. If people never see us in action, they probably wouldn’t be able to tell that we can do what we do. We are not particularly big-sized, well-built or bulky. We look just like the old men you walk past at the bus interchange or community center. Another criteria that potential members have to fulfill is that they must have already established a foundation of strength; they should, at the very least, be able to do a military push-up before joining us. We are not a training academy; our primary goal is to spread our vision, so we do not have the time to train members from scratch.
Last but not least, our members must possess the spirit we are looking for. It’s the spirit of being helpful; for example, being willing to give back to the senior citizen community by guiding them through exercises during charity events. It’s also the spirit of being open and happy to share; being willing to put themselves out there during interviews and put up performances at community centers and at special events to talk about our vision. And finally, the spirit of persevering through adversity. Ailments and injuries are unavoidable in old age. One of our members, Mr. Huang, is 75 years old and has a spinal injury from back in the day when he used to represent Singapore in weightlifting competitions and cannot walk properly now. But he still has the energy and strength to take care of and play with his grandchildren and put up performances with the team. He recalls his first performance with the team with fondness; it was at the closing ceremony of a national weight loss campaign, to a much younger audience. He was amazed that he, a senior citizen with a spinal injury, was looked up to as a role model for all these younger people. He felt recognized, fulfilled, and was very proud of himself. But most of all, he was glad that he had the opportunity to share what he, and the rest of the team, believes in: not everything has to go downhill with age.