Loved pretty much all sports for as long as I can remember, a childhood fully of Daley Thompson winning medals galore, John McEnroe shaking Tennis up and the then mysterious and exciting world of European football with St Etienne and Borussia Monchengladbach in European Cup finals.

An arthritis scare in my early 40s curtailed all my efforts and the impact was profound. The thought of not being able to do any of the sports I loved was a massive blow that had a huge impact on me and an early glimpse into what I thought at the time was a dark tunnel to getting older

Thankfully acupuncture/physio/rest and some common sense have raised my aim and I’m more now more active than I was in my 30s. The current pandemic and lockdown has actually increased my fitness levels as I have cycled more and become a slave to the seemingly nice but really quite evil Joe Wicks. I’m still no Iron Man and in fact distance running/poor technique and weight probably contributed to my earlier arthritic scare. It was one of the sparks behind Greyafro and the start of an obsession with ageing well so not a total disaster.

Two things in 2020 have reinforced my belief that Sport/Leisure really is the next battle ground in the anti-Ageism agenda (and I’m excluding Covid).

I created a whoop group for over 50s athletes interested in sharing/discussing what their stats meant. Is my RHR (resting heart rate) a sign of impending doom? No simple answers but in a couple of days very clear I’d hit on something. A flurry of enquiries from all over the world and the start of something hopefully really interesting. Fitbit has a group of 65k+users tagged as Fit Seniors, that title misses the mark for me in a lot of ways, but the number involved is pretty telling.    

I then shared an old but pretty great article from the Washington Post about starting running over 50. I asked if people could share inspiring stories of athletic endeavour above the age of 50. Well that went crazy and I have had some incredible stories shared which I’m going to profile in future blogs. There are some inspiring stories of people taking up sport comparatively late and excelling through to those more “normal” stories of people just keeping going and reaping huge benefits.

This got me back onto the issue of how the sports business represents older athletes of any variety & level.  I’m still a much bigger spender on sportswear than I’d care to admit or add up. Over the years golf clubs/trainers/tennis racquets/fitness trackers/memberships I have spent a lot of money and had a great amount of value. That isn’t going to stop anytime soon and in fact will only change when I’m physically unable to participate. So why is the messaging /advertising I see so far removed from this reality.

Not expecting the focus to be entirely on older athletes rather being worked into the promotional mix. At the minute I buy inspite of the promotion not because of it and I’m not alone – think I can highlight where the problem might be:

Exhibit A Fitness AI driven apps – perfect for middle aged men like me that want advice when I want it so I can use at the gym/work out at home when quiet and the Love Island style muscle men aren’t there. But what do I get? This: 

undefined

Yup over 45 excluded and at 40 you are covering up! I know what the many female sports enthusiats I know would say to that and I can only agree with them. (In the interests of balance, I haven’t done the same for women and frankly am scared to look). I did make contact with the people behind this app to offer help but am still waiting for a response.

Exhibit B

I’m a Nike lover – they make most of my favourite Football teams kits (Chelsea, England and Eintracht Frankfurt) I have bought their tennis and running and fitness stuff in steady levels for years and years. Yet whilst their approach to diversity in some ways is evident and to be applauded Age doesn’t appear to have hit the mark. If I log into their lovely app I can see lots 20/30s but at my age I’m clearly not of interest! Nike 2020 Reflects the continued challenge of Ageism which has been more exposed by the pandemic.

Exhibit C

The positive side – check out your roads on a Saturday or Sunday morning (pre Covid and every day now) early on. The cycling boom is clear to see men and women on likely very very expensive bikes with trackers galore and sparkly clingy kit tearing through the streets. Link this to the running boom (check out your local park run and post covid the number of people taking their daily exercise as a run).

Much more on this topic to come but for now I’m really interested in more examples of sportswear brands actively promoting/supporting older athletes. And Nike if you want a very average model for a post covid Tennis campaign just say the word – if you think an inverted Nadal you would be bang on the money. Pretty sure you will be finalising your 2021 (replanning around now so what a chance given the Pro calendar is currently suspended but we can play in the UK)

I’d love to hear more about sporting endeavour from anyone older – it does not have to be in the lights out category I’m really keen to hear about anyone starting out and the benefits it has for isolation/mental health and wider physical well-being. Even more so given the tough time we have been living through and the increased need to encourage our nation to take better care of itself – you only get one chance (and for now at least one body) so best make the best of it.

Thanks for reading

If you’d like to get in touch you can reach me at Julian@greyafro.com and on all the main social media platforms. I’m available to help businesses unlock the potential of talking to older consumers.

 

Great song or subtle call to action for the growing army of over 50s fitness enthusiasts? I’m one of this group and have long been frustrated by (my perceived) lack of acknowledgment that people over 50 are actively participating in pretty much every sport you can think of.

Many over 50s take health and keeping fit incredibly seriously. In one of my last blogs I talked a bit about prevention and how that could become a thing in future linked in particular to fitness tech. An ageing population is only going to see this trend increase and splinter into some other paths. I have resolved to join in this conversation and try to help nudge things along by highlighting and talking about this particular theme in relation to ageing. I’m going to share a series of blogs (and maybe a video or two) on this topic over the coming weeks & months.

Thought I’d start with a gentle warm up looking at the most basic side of things. What are some of the popular ways of achieving these goals – based on what I see there are a multitude of ways but highlighting a few that stand out to me:

Running & Walking

The fitness device boom and the cult of 10,000 steps has undoubtedly assisted here. For the most competitive groups the challenge of keeping up with and beating your friends prove pretty motivational as well as weight loss and the benefit of being out in the (hopefully) fresh air. 

At the other end and in the spirt of its never too late there is a combo of Nordic walking and competitive distance running – first marathon/beat your 10k PB or heading off on a great adventure. Or if you are me getting back on the track for sprint training and the booming Masters Athletics scene. Never understood why there hasn’t been an athletics sprint training-based fitness craze yet. Focus on warm up and short sharp bursts of activity? Must be a winner surely – HIIT training 2.0?

Yoga & Pilates

Flexibility and core strength drive these opportunities. Posture improvement feeling calmer and better body awareness? You are in the right place. In my unscientific poll of people, I know these areas continue to be huge. Not a lot to dislike and for the stronger willed you could do both in a hot room to amplify the experience Hot Yoga should be experienced by everyone at least once!

In some of my social media exchanges the number of over 50s (particularly women) actively participating was unsurprisingly huge. In one of my many rather unscientific studies I am no longer the only man in my Pilates class – hopefully a sign that more men are realising the benefits and starting to get involved.

Tennis

Often and wrongly seen as an elitist pastime there is a heap more to Tennis than meets the eye and a reason you will see so many courts filling up in the daytime in particular. You can make it as intense and or physical as you’d like and there is a very healthy social element to it – moving in all directions and the need to apply strategy mean this is good for the brain and the body. Cardio Tennis for some is the answer a workout wrapped around crunching forehands and backhands!

Swimming

Swimming ticks multiple boxes – cardiovascular workout and depending on the stroke you do working a variety of muscle groups. A relatively small amount of time regularly can make a huge difference. You could even go wild and get into water polo (not for the faint hearted) and or something like aqua aerobics or the ever more popular cold-water swimming.

Gym/Functional Fitness

A massive catch all and despite gym advertising this January having a distinctly youthful feel this is hugely popular amongst the over50s. The benefits of resistance training and lifting weights are well documented and hopefully as more people keep doing it from their younger years will be proven to be beneficial in helping these athletes to age well.

Link this to the military fitness cross fit/lets all meet in a park and train activities and you have quite a movement. These activities also strike me as having very strong inter-generational benefits and are more based around participation rather than being wildly competitive in the beginning at least.

Walking Football

New on the block and forgive an unwanted hint of male bias (shouldn’t be as this is open to all) Perfect for those who used to play and still want the camaraderie even if a 30-yard screamer feels like a distant memory. I think aimed more at those for who mobility is becoming an issue (might be wrong in fairness)

Everything Else (A lot) 

There is so much more in this space Golf/cycling/martial arts/ballet it could go on for ages. The breadth of activities is no surprise what is remarkably telling is how little advertising/communication/products are built and designed for this group. The amount spent on memberships/equipment is already huge and could be even more if only it were understood/encouraged!

And Finally…

If any of this has got you thinking please do get in touch – I’m really friendly and very keen to hear more at all ends of the spectrum be it the inspiring story of twitter legend IronGranny or starting something much lower key for the first time in later life.

If you happen to be a Whoop user over 50 I have set up a team (group) for those of us over 50 to share performance data – Experience Rocks once the numbers get a bit higher I will also activate a dedicated Facebook group. I can tell you that there are some people at all levels of over 50 doing some incredible things!

Hope you have enjoyed reading this blog if you have comments and sharing much appreciated – I’ll be doing more on this topic over the coming weeks the research has been a blast so really looking forward to sharing. 

I’m a Marketing consultant focused on all things over 50s helping businesses target and communicate with mature audiences. If you or someone you know would like to find out more, please get in touch Julian@Greyafro.com

I’m a big fitness fan when not tucking into my latest takeaway or more recently mince pie.

In fact I recently invested in @whoop band a thing of absolute wonder. As a result I understand my sleep patterns better than ever (and my ever diminishing athletic performance but lets gloss over that).

Will Ahmed (CEO of Whoop) is also responsible for a excellent series of supporting podcasts – a recent edition particularly resonated with me  covering a subject very close to my heart Alzheimers. The podcast focused on the use of the data from Whoop as a way of understanding risks and informing approaches that may help with prevention. For someone with my family history that was certainly of interest. 

Based on the research being undertaken by Dr. Richard Isaacson, Director of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Clinic at Weill Cornell Medical College the data captured by Whoop is being utilised as part of a larger study the findings of which I’d suspect will be integral to challenging perceptions. 

An ageing population means this is going to become an even larger issue and understanding how to delay the onset is going to have a multitude of benefits to society. This is just one simple example of the way technology will be able to help with the many looming age related challenges. In the UK  there is nowhere near enough being done to manage this population change and anything that can help highlight measures that could be taken now to address what its coming can only be a good thing in my opinion.

Of all the opportunities presented by ageing health in its broadest sense strikes me as the largest an opportunity to do good for society. 

 

I’d originally started this blog in the depths of winter just after a rather nasty bug has led to an enforced period of rest and therefore a bit of bonus thinking time. I’d read an article or two about the cost of Fraud and the ever more sophisticated ways in which the bad guys were looking to part people from their money.

No real sizing of the problem in the content I saw – but it got me thinking again about the impact on “older” consumers. As a generalisation older/sometimes more vulnerable/more at risk and Age UK has highlighted a shocking looking number https://www.ageuk.org.uk/latest-press/articles/2019/july/older-person-becomes-fraud-victim-every-40-seconds/

Clearly this is an issue bigger than 50+ but I’d suggest particularly worrying when targeting older/vulnerable people.

On a recent visit to see my mum she had 2 cold calls and a random door knocker (free roof inspection) on a weekday afternoon. She gets regular unsolicited phone calls Apparently this isn’t out of the norm for a weekday afternoon. Clearly such approaches work as there isn’t any sign of them being stopped by legislation/controls and those responsible must be making a living out of it. I’m not suggesting they are all criminals btw but if your business needs you to door knock on a weekday afternoon I’d suggest something may be up.

All of this got me thinking about one of my many grumbles – what on earth is being done about this? Regulation is pretty ineffective and there are stories galore of “older” people being conned. Even those entrusted to do the right thing very often do not https://citywire.co.uk/new-model-adviser/news/fca-bans-pensions-adviser-jailed-for-2-1m-fraud/a1325781

There are people out there helping educate against different types of fraud/how to keep the bad guys away but nowhere near enough. I’d like to help push this agenda forwards and would love to talk to anyone interested in helping do this be it via education or more direct means.

Thanks for reading I’m Julian a Marketing consultant focused on helping business target and communicate with the ever growing over 50s Market. If you’d like to get in touch I can be reached at julian@greyafro.com

So many pictures of (mostly) young people using an app to make themselves look older. The irony of this is immense given the way society still ignores the issues facing an aging population.

Instead of making you look superficially like an elderly person how about a real experience. One where employment becomes much harder, yet living expenses stay at similar levels. Where you become invisible or where your retirement age is constantly nudged backwards. Or where you feel no different but everyone starts to make negative assumptions. That is only the start and every study I see just confirms what a mess we are in and that worse is coming!

The need for government and business to acknowledge the ever louder ticking of this time bomb has never been greater and is rapidly getting worse. Even more worrying is the lack of debate about any part of the issue.

So as you are sharing/receiving/viewing the latest FaceApp picture have a little think about what aging really means.

Ageism is thankfully receiving ever more coverage but our attitudes to what Ageing means and even more imporortantly what Ageing well looks like have a long way to go. If this is something your business woudkl like to find out more about please contact me to discuss further julian@greyafro.com

Well a sort of future.

When I started out on my own had very grand and idealistic thoughts of hanging out in co-working spaces and generally changing the world with an incredible work life balance and a network of people fighting for my time. Not quite got there yet but I like to think the acorns are germinating!

The future I’m thinking about was really more of a present and was based on seeing the magnificent Orbital at Hammersmith Apollo just before Christmas. As part of my extended midlife crisis I’m experiencing an ever stronger desire to reconnect with my youth – nothing to report there apart from my joy/surprise at how many others feel the same and were doing something about it on a cold December Saturday evening. Dancing away with 5000 other folks all of my vintage and above gave me a timely reminder of why I started greyafro in the first place. The facts on aging are clear and the cohort I’m most interested in the 50 to 70 lived group lived through the magic that was late 80s/early 90s raving.

Think I’m past the dancing all night stage (think) but nowhere near afternoon tea dances and quizzes. So what is happening for this group.?

Whilst Baby Boomers are an acknowledged group but continue to be ignored/misunderstood the not actually very old at all 50+ I think are starting to fall into a void. Too young to need some of the specialist products of older age but too old to be of interest to a huge community of youth obsessed brands.

The behaviour of people within this group is I think are fascinating. To start with the group needs a name for us all to misappropriate. Basically it is the age fading group – in all the key jobs its the time where age becomes an issue and people start to disappear from public life. The only place I can see the male of this group flourish is at Football/sporting events where they are the majority!

Really interesting to see how brands start to address this subtle difference – the desire to take age focused brands down a decade or two has been happening for a while witness Saga and Age UK over the last couple of years. I think sport/leisure is a huge opportunity and the boom in cycling/mind body attests to it but I’d suggest we are still early in the process. Given the woes of retail I cannot help but think there is another opportunity here to look at the needs and wants of this “sandwich” generation. I won’t hold my breath but would be happy to talk to anyone who is starting to wrestle with a challenge in this space.

Thanks for reading and if you found even slightly useful please do let me know.

#50notout

Until next time

Julian@greyafro.com

Spent much more of the last two weekends than I’d care to admit watching Tiger Woods on the comeback trail.

I have become a golf enthusiast over the last 10 years or so and have often wondered how much of what is now modern golf is directly attributable to TW. Undoubtedly prize money and broader interest can be attributed directly to the big cat.

Tiger is 42 and seemingly after some quite drastic surgery is heading back to the top of the game. All of which got me thinking about reinvention and longevity. When I started work I had a very much misguided view of retirement – get to 50 and kick back! Won’t be true for me and there will be many more people who will experience a lot worse in fact retirement will mean relative poverty with income down and costs likely rising/mortgages still to be repaid and high expectations being missed.

So who is actually reading the signs of what is to come? Healthcare looks ever less prepared, gurus abound telling us about the death of just about every traditional media source, automation is apparently going to make us all redundant and the list goes on.

So all of the (un)retirement chat looks like a decent bet even if it isn’t what many people actually want. Surely this leads to a raft of new services and products to address this change? Here is hoping but I’d put more money short term on lots of amazing new tech focused on solving non problems first!