Every morning, thousands of people gather in Hong Kong’s beautiful public parks to practice tai chi, qi gong, kung fu and dance. Some practice alone, others in large groups; some exhibit a slow, quiet energy, fixed by their own concentration, while others are chatty and gregarious.

Most, if not all, are old.

My favourite group meets at 7:30 in the morning in a little park on the east side of Hong Kong Island. They practice tai chi together with an instructor: a man, probably in his late 60s, unassuming in khakis and a T-shirt. They begin by moving in unison through the twenty-four forms, after which he begins to teach. Frequently, the focus is on one minuscule motion: the transition of weight from one foot to the other, or a turn of the waist measuring only a few degrees.

It’s amazing. Inspiring, even. However, the source of my awe isn’t the teacher’s depth of knowledge—though he is clearly a master—but the behaviour of his students. No one shuffles impatiently waiting for the next move. No one cares about feeling the burn, or losing belly fat. They are content to listen—and content to repeat, over and over again, that one small moment in time in an effort to understand it.

They shift their weight, they move with care, and, every morning, they learn something.

In the West, to “get old” means to deteriorate: to wear out, to break down. It’s easy to think of time as an agent of erosion, like waves wearing down a cliffside. We rarely stop to consider that time is also how the cliff was built. 

The Western mindset by no means a universal truth. When I watch Hong Kong’s elders, agile in a way that only comes from daily movement, the word “deteriorate” never once comes to mind. The Eastern version of “old” seems to recognize something we Westerners don’t: strength is temporal. Pursuing a balance—instead of a maximum—means cultivating knowledge, through strength, every day of your life.

So, here is my training advice, no matter what your sport or event: get old. Work diligently; be patient; pay attention. Start getting old this very minute. Like the qi gong master’s tiny movements, there is an abundance power in this simple idea—because choosing to get old means choosing how you get old.

The performance of a single day will never be as impressive as a long life lived well.


7 Responses to “If You Think Aging Makes You Weak, You Have a Poor Definition of Strong”

  • ronlefitness

    This is a very interesting perspective. It is amazing how many western societies look down on old age while it is revered in some eastern societies. I agree with you that life is about the journey. We have to accept that inevitable and work to be our happiest every single day. This may include some workout activities!


  • Melissa

    I would like to learn where you teach. I find your messages so inspiring and your information very enlightening. I need to get back on track. Or just on track. I don’t think that I have ever *really* been on track.

    • KevinMoore

      How can I reach you, Melissa? If you like, send me a PM on Facebook or send me a “Get in Touch” message from the webpage and we can try to arrange something!

  • […] Brilliant and inspiring article from Kevin Moore of Reembody, read the full post here. […]

  • June

    Almost worth getting old.

  • Izarra Varela

    This reminds me of a quote I heard somewhere: “Today we are young and beautiful; tomorrow we will just be beautiful.” Thank you for pointing out the beauty in growing old gracefully.

  • Joann Johnstone

    Love it! Getting old is the best thing that I have ever done!


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