For many of us, fitness isn’t just a form of escape or a means to an athletic end — in some ways, it’s also a constant source of anxiety. As I get older (and the odometer on my injuries continues to climb) my body responds to workouts differently, my results become less pronounced, and the guy I see in the mirror looks less and less like the version of myself I recall proudly posing in front of mirrors back in my twenties and more and more like the bearded dads I remember from 80’s movies.

At its heart, that transition is what Old Man Fitness is all about – learning to adapt our perspective on fitness as our relationship with it evolves. Gone are the days of effortless six packs and workouts being a means to burn off excess energy… in fact, now I find it almost impossible to imagine a version of me with any excess energy to burn at all. Nowadays, when you see me in the gym, it’s because discipline won out over the clarion call of napping on an isomat for forty-five minutes while my wife wrangles our daughter on her own.

I’ve been asked what constitutes “old” in terms of Old Man Fitness several times since starting this column, sometimes from folks that relate to these articles but don’t quite feel old enough to self-identify as such, and other times from self-declared “old” fitness enthusiasts that take umbrage at my use of the word, seeing as I’m only in my thirties. I usually provide the same response: it’s not always about what year a truck was made; sometimes it’s about the mileage. Last year’s model with 190,000 rough and tumble miles on it will face a lot of the same challenges as a well-kept twenty-year-old Sunday driver.

Likewise, with fitness; with too many broken bones to count, metal pins, screws, plates and wires in every joint below my waist but one, slipped discs, a trick shoulder and a lifetime of rugby, football, and fighting related concussions, I’m lucky to be getting out of bed at all some days. I may have rolled off the factory floor more recently than some, but you’d be hard pressed to find another guy of the same model year with more ticks on his odometer.