My Fitness Journey at 50

By Elamangai Pasupathi, BMedSc., medical writer

Graham Haddon is a Kiwi expat residing in Malaysia with his wife, a deputy principal of a local private school. He’s a carpenter, joiner and interior plaster by trade. But his true passion lies in fitness. At 50, he bench-presses 208 kg and has an average bicep curl weight of 40kg. His current deadlift weight is 275 kg. A veteran in the world of fitness and athletics, he’s graciously agreed to share with us some anecdotes from his journey as well as wisdom from his years of experience.

“I’ve always been playing sports since I can remember,” he says. “Soccer, rugby, athletics. I excelled in all the sports. I started off my martial arts journey around 13-14 years old as well. First, with karate and judo and then I progressed to other forms of martial arts, like Aiki-jūjutsu and Aikido, both of which I still participate in till this day. But my fitness, or to be more specific my weight training journey started when I was about 17-18 years old,” he says.

When asked what inspired him to start weight training, he credits his good friend Frank Vole for inviting him over for a training session with him. “When I started weight training, it was more or less learn-as-you-go. I either listened to or read books and magazines. There was no internet or YouTube back then. Over time, there would be different trends that came around like body building and powerlifting. I followed whatever the group of guys I trained with were doing at that time.”

His current routine is a lot more structured. “I still have the same passion after all these years, but just more informed and wiser.” Being surrounded by supportive friends and family, he’s in a good space mentally and that helps the physical side of it all.

“I once ripped my chest tendons off my shoulder. I had to get an operation to reattach the tendons. What followed was a long period of recovery. I was in rehabilitation for 11 months. It was frustrating not do something physical. I couldn’t go to the gym or do martial arts. But thankfully, I could still work. It was definitely a mind over matter situation.”

When asked about his diet and nutrition, he recommends starting off with YouTube videos. “At the start, when you’re young you can eat nearly anything you want within limits. But as you get older and wiser, your nutrition has to improve. It depends on what your goals are as well. There’s unlimited information on YouTube for you to get started off but I also recommend talking to people in the fitness industry. There are a million different diets out there. You just need to find out what works for your body type, build, and fitness goals.”

Mr. Graham believes that making mistakes is part of the journey. “You won’t learn otherwise. It seems like a recurring theme but keep looking to improve your journey. You need to set a goal and stick to the journey that leads you to that goal. That doesn’t mean that the goal can’t change as circumstances do change. But you always need to start with a goal because otherwise, it’s like traveling down a road without a destination. At the very least you need a direction to head towards. And whatever it is that you do, do it well. Give it a 100% and the results will show.”

We asked him where he sees himself in 10 years. To that he replies,” Honestly, I see myself doing what I do now just older and smarter. I’ll have to adjust to my ability at that time, but I’ll still be giving it 100%!”