Boom Generation Fitness

Mind - body fitness and health strategies for powering thru later years

The blog is aimed at the generation that was born between 1946 and 1964 - the so-called Baby Boomers.

We are now into our middle-age and very interested in staying fit and healthy until well into our senior years.

This blog provides some of the tools to do just that. You can find posts here and lots more by clicking on the links to THINK FIT and THE FITNESS PAPERS (see left side column).

These pages are about any and all matters concerning wellness, mind, body and spirit and, of course, physical exercise of all sorts. A special feature is an emphasis on individuals who can provide examples for us all of a healthy, energetic and positive life.


Geoff Quartermaine Bastin

More about who I am on:

Saturday, November 13, 2010


So that's the barrier well and truly crossed! When you are 61 you are actually "in your 60s"... "later middle age" as someone recently said. I feel good! And I think for 61 I look pretty good! The question now is how to look and feel even better.

I get hurt by my pretty extreme work schedule. Not long before these photos were taken I was in Pakistan helping to plan a flood recovery programme and I had severe food poisoning and a bad case of sciatica from too much time spent in helicopters and bumping over country roads. Such episodes don't help; my friend and colleague Eddie Vernon, who is an amazing cyclist, has to spend months in Afghanistan cooped up in a secure compound and he still competes successfully. So there's no real reason for folk with slightly less dramatic or stressful lives to feel that once they are "late middle aged" that it's all downhill from there on. It most certainly is not.

Is there a secret? Not really. I watch my diet as best I can running from one developing country to another and I religiously get into the fitness centre wherever I am every week and hit the weights HARD. Stretching is important too to remain flexible.

I make sure that once every three months I visit my doctor and have a blood profile taken - cholesterol, blood sugar etc. The latest one came back A1...when it goes off track I make sure that I hit whatever it is that's hurting me. With a pre-disposition to high blood pressure (genetic, not life style) and so a risk of Syndrome X, I don't eat anything sweet and I don't take extra salt. I've cut down coffee to two a day and drink very limited alcohol (a glass of red wine never hurts!). Also drink lots of water; dehydration is a prime factor in arthritis and in generally feeling "low" - it also raise your BP.

I practice self-hypnosis too. Sounds weird, but it isn't. Lie on your back, go to a mental place that's very peaceful (mine's a beach on the Pembroke coast in Wales), count down from 10 and then tell yourself whatever it is you need to program. I start by telling myself "I am healthy" - make sure you affirm whatever it is in the present - and "I am positive" - I have a tendency towards being negative or cynical, so this seems to counteract it. If I have a chronic ache or pain I tell myself "I can't feel it". Once you've made your affirmations, count slowly back from 10 and you're done..

This works. Try it.

It's all fairly common-sense, food discipline and HARD exercise work in the gym. Nothing else except having the mind focused on maintaining the body in the best possible shape.

Mind-Body ...... that's what this entire blog is about. Neglect one or the other and your health will suffer whatever age you are; keep the mind and body working together and you'll stay fit and healthy forever.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


Carl Grove entered the USA's Cycling Masters Road National for the first time aged 82... and won!

Grove captured the age 80-84 division of the 20K time trial in 33 minutes, 49 seconds, then returned the next day to win the 80-and-up 30-mile road race with a time of 1 hour, 32 minutes. In between, he also competed in a 30K tandem race.

For more details check out (credit for the story to Anthony Anderson).

There are some interesting things in the story to think about, a little beyond the amazing achievements of this extraordinary athlete. The first, of course, is that the gentleman has the genetics - apparently his ability to maximize his oxygen use is unusually good. Second, he got back into cycling quite late in life (for an aerobic athlete) at aged 40 and only really got serious in his late '70s. Which shows that it is NEVER too late and it's just a question of being serious about something. The marvellous thing is that Mr. Grove stays young at heart and super fit (for any age) through his intention and spirit to succeed. He is able to tap into the force or the will that keeps us all alive, and this is something that we can all do irrespective of the genetics and in all walks of life.

Another interesting comment by his coach is that Grove kept adding muscle with training. The conventional wisdom is that after 60 you can't no matter what you do. I disagree, and I'll prove it (albeit not through cycling - I'm a bit too big for that!). But in my chosen area, body building (something I started at 50), I still put on muscle and strength regularly - I have the numbers to prove it. Also check out my push-up challenge (previous post)... I'm not at 100 yet, but I'm getting there slowly.

True, it is harder to keep it all there as you get older, but my experience (now aged 60) is that the body has a remarkable capacity to grow - and no "juice" either! You just need to understand how... and most of that is a combination of mind and body - clearly something that Mr. Grove has grasped.

Truth Photo by Ryan M.L. Young: Carl Grove poses for a portrait at his home Tuesday, August 10, 2010.

Sunday, August 01, 2010


This is a neat little web site...

It's very simple. Just a short training program to get you from where you are - if you are over 50 and you can do more than 20 push ups you are about in the middle of the fitness range - to 100 push ups (press ups we English say) in 6 weeks of training. Nothing needed except yourself and the floor.

I like the idea, and the challenge. I'm pretty fit for a 60 year old and a weightlifter but 100 push ups is a serious number and I'm way off... 30 is about my current mark. The fact is that push ups sound simple but the exercise uses a range of muscles including those in your core that are very important as you get older (back pain etc...). Well worth the effort to strengthen them.

So I'm taking up the challenge and will be reporting it accordingly.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Does travel have to play havoc with your health? I'm just back from 3 months traveling (for work - see in Yemen and Georgia (the photo is from South Ossetia in the Caucasus).

I dread these extended trips to exotic places, nice perhaps as a holiday, but when you have to work under stress you wonder what impact it has on your health - different diets, little or no chance to rest or to exercise, bumped around in 4X4 wheel vehicles and in Eastern Europe and Central Asia especially a hospitality culture that has you drinking vodka for breakfast!

The amazing fact I just discovered after getting home is that my body has responded quite well to high elevation (over 7,000 feet) in Yemen, a lack of fresh vegetables, a diet high in carbs and protein and yes, in Georgia, copious amounts of alcoholic beverage.

I was able to exercise; in Yemen on a relatively good multi-machine in the basement of our office and in Georgia in the standard hotel fitness room. The weights were not what you'd expect from a professional fitness center or bodybuilding gym, but just about adequate to maintain my strength. I tested against my September 2009 weights benchmarks yesterday at my home gym in Bangkok and came out slightly ahead (tip: keep a written record of what you do in your fitness routine, it's easy to forget and gives you something to play against). Today I had my regular 3-monthly blood chemistry profile: amazingly my blood sugar was stable (just under the extra-tough Kurzweil and Grossman reference level - see my post on Kurzwel) and my lipid panel (cholesterol, triglycerides) had actually improved.

I did manage to stay off the desserts and extra sugar (fruit sugars are OK and you get whatever other sugar you need in your normal food) but my consumption of carbohydrates rocketed - the baguettes in Sana'a City in Yemen were fresh and excellent and Central Asia lives on bread. So while the diet hasn't been good, somehow my body has responded well to the abuse. It's interesting that this hunt for fitness isn't just a straightforward matter and that sometimes extreme travel and rough times can actually do you good. Or maybe it was just the vodka!

Monday, March 29, 2010


Heart attacks affect people at ALL ages. And they don't always happen when other people are around. What to do?

If you feel a sharp, grasping pain that goes up into your jaw and into your arm (often the left one), and it feels like there is a vice around your chest, the chances are you might be having a heart attack.

If you are alone, you have a short time - about 10 seconds - to get help.... But what if you can't?

The answer is to COUGH! Breathe very deeply and cough heavily as if you are trying to clear a blocked throat. Keep breathing deeply and coughing HARD!

The deep breaths pull in more oxygen and the coughing squeezes your heart and can help get it going again.

Obviously as soon as you can call for medical help.

I have a neat PowerPoint about this..... email me on and I'll email a copy.

Saturday, January 16, 2010


It looks like somewhere from Lord of The Rings, right? In fact this is Yemen at the tip of the Arab Peninsular and on the Red Sea.

I’m working here at the moment and realized (a bit too late) that the capital city, Sana’a, is 7,000 feet above sea level. Right at the margin of what is defined as ‘High Altitude’.

What got my attention? Strangely a bit harder to get my breath and my first effort at lat pull downs (for the uninitiated in strength training this is a back exercise where you pull the weight down towards you chest using your latissimus dorsi – those big muscles that run under your shoulder blades) was a disaster. I normally do my work sets at 99 kg (218 pounds) on this exercise. In Yemen up in the mountains I can barely do 60kgs (132 pounds). Shock, horror!

The fact is that at this altitude my lungs and muscles are getting significantly less oxygen than I normally get where I live in Bangkok (which is at sea level). An average person at sea level has about 13-14 kilopascals (kPa) of oxygen in their bloodstream; at 7,000 feet above sea level (asl) they have 8.7 kPa; much lower than this hypoxemia sets in with a number of unpleasant symptoms, even death.

There is obviously a number of risks exercising at this height, especially when you are middle-aged (unless you are used to the altitude and have adjusted – which usually takes 2-3 months and maybe longer). These risks attach to any activity at high altitude, especially climbing, trekking, running or cycling where you are putting your heart and lungs under extra load – remember, with less oxygen they have to work harder anyway just to keep you on the planet. If you have hypertension, be extra careful; also drink more water.

Dehydration is a pet concern of mine and it turns out to be an added risk the higher you go. What happens is that the kidneys command the bone marrow to produce more red blood cells to increase the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood. To make room for the increased red cells, the body dumps fluid from the blood - excess urine and collection of fluid in the body's tissues are two direct results of these biological actions. Also the mountains in Yemen are very, very dry, with humidity around 30% so you are losing moisture all the time with every breath you take (in Bangkok humidity is usually 80%!).

All this said, there may be some benefits of being at high altitude. Over time the extra exercise needed to breathe and move may strengthen these organs. But the rule is apparently “sleep high, train low” – because at altitude your body works hard anyway, so you get the benefits while resting or doing your normal activity, but you cannot actually train because your muscles don’t get the oxygen they really need. While it may be true that with more red blood cells you get a surge of energy back at sea level (which is why some athletes like boxers or sprinters do train at altitude just before a competition), this doesn’t last longer than a week or so.

I’ll be writing a longer, more fact-based paper for the Fitness Papers when I get the chance. I’m by no means very knowledgeable about this yet, but watch this space – I will be!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Are the Fittest Among Us Born That Way?

Someone just asked this on the networking site under 'Health'

"The fitness industry is a trillion dollar industry, selling everything from dietary supplements to products that promise to provide "abs of steel." However, after reading on the passing of Joe Rollino (see the news item below), who was quoted as saying that he was "born strong," I wonder how many of the people who are 'FIT' are actually "born" that way?,2933,582814,00.html?test=latestnews"

Here's my answer as posted on LI:

"It's obviously genetics to a certain point (like any animal, yep, sorry folks, at the biological level that's just what we are). But there's also training, and it depends too on what you mean by 'fit'? My current sport is resistance/strength training, but I was never going to be Arnold; that said within the limits of my genetics (a fairly hard gainer and an ectomorph) I think I've done a reasonable job at keeping muscle mass and stamina as I age. And then there's mentally and spiritually fit: some of that is hard-wired (genetics) but by no means all."