“If you can not measure it, you can not improve it.”
An integral step in developing any improvement program is the establishment of objective standards. How does one measure the attributes of youthfulness other than chronological age? We struggled with that question for many years. The answer started to crystallize for us during the 2002 World Weightlifting Games in Melbourne, Australia. After the opening ceremony, and before our own events, we watched the oldest weightlifters compete.
Charlie Henderson, an Australian weightlifter who competed in the 136-pound weight category, was slated to lift 137.5 pounds above his head. When he appeared, everyone applauded. He walked to the platform with his chest held high, his back straight, and his arms loosely at his sides. After bowing to the audience, he approached the bar, lowered himself, cleaned the weight to his chest without effort, and jerked it above his head. We watched with amazement as he held the bar high in the air with straight arms, for Charlie Henderson was 80 years old.
When Jerzy was thirteen, he started lifting weights in his backyard. At the time, he could lift his own weight-122 pounds-something only the strongest teenagers could do. Yet here was an 80-year-old man doing it! The implication of this achievement was momentous. We decided there and then that if we could help our clients lift their own body weight, and retain that capability as they aged-just as Charlie Henderson had done-their lives would be more functional, more healthy, and more joyful. They would be able to lift heavy objects, run fast, and maintain their coordination, and, as a result, they would resist illness and avoid injuries. In short, they would have Happy Bodies.