Jeff and Michelle share a few of the many sports that are gaining momentum among the 50 and older crowd. There’s a lot going on out there. You should check out the Huntsman World Senior Games and see how you can get in on the competitive game. We also visit with one of our amazing athletes, Ellen Fuller who shares some of her insights into a life of competition. Fun show! Go check it out The World Senior Games.
Jeff Harding: Hello and welcome to the Huntsman World Senior Games Active Life. My name is Jeff Harding and I'm sitting in for Kyle Case who's not available today and joining me in the studio is Michelle Graves. Michelle, how are you doing?
Michelle Graves: I'm great. Happy to be sitting in for you, Jeff.
Jeff Harding: It's funny how we just kind of bounce around from chair to chair, don't we?
Michelle Graves: Yeah, yeah.
Jeff Harding: Sometimes you fill in for Kyle, sometimes you fill in for me.
Michelle Graves: I like the sidekick post better though, I must say.
Jeff Harding: You do well, you do well.
Michelle Graves: Thank you. Good to be here.
Jeff Harding: I'm glad to have you. Michelle, I know that you like to exercise and keep fit, and there's nothing quite like the thrill and camaraderie to be found from playing team sports with a group of people who have similar abilities. So I just thought it'd be fun to maybe talk about some of the top sports for an aging population from fiftyplus.com.
Michelle Graves: Well, you're right about that and I just turned 50 so let's find out. This'll be interesting.
Jeff Harding: So you're in the demographic, all right. The first one is walking, and going for a walk or a hike gets you out of the house. The speed doesn't matter. It's great exercise, just getting out and walking. That's one that I personally love. I've always loved walking and that's one that I can do well.
Michelle Graves: We have that in common, yeah. I call it hiking more because I like to be on dirt and rocks, but yes-
Jeff Harding: That's true. If you're on dirt and rocks, it's hiking. If you're on pavement, it's walking, but either way, it's fun to be out there and get going and get some blood circulating.
Michelle Graves: You're right. The next one I wish I did better, my kids do it very well, but it's swimming and indoor community pools usually offer opportunities to swim, different [inaudible 00:01:35] or join an aqua fit class, which are particularly kind to age joints and bones and [inaudible 00:01:41]. I think it is a really low impact exercise that can strengthen us all at any age.
Jeff Harding: It is. It is. It's a great exercise, cardiovascular. If you swim or you do water aerobics, it's great for the heart, too, in addition to the muscles so that's pretty cool. The next one is yoga or Taichi. They're fun activities and for low impact fitness and relaxation for individuals or groups. That's something that I don't know a whole lot about, but I've seen Taichi and it looks really interesting, but it's not one that I've done.
Michelle Graves: Yeah, again, that helps with strength, but also mental. There's a lot of good aspects in relation to our mental health than those-
Jeff Harding: Mental acuity and so forth, yeah.
Michelle Graves: ... that that kind of exercise impacts. The next is dancing and my mother loves this and we have a lady at the office that does, too. It's a great way to have fun and get fit. Zumba is really popular still and is a dance class designed specifically with older adults in mind.
Jeff Harding: Now I enjoy watching Zumba, but I've never done it.
Michelle Graves: Yeah, I'm really amazed at how well they-
Jeff Harding: Yeah, they move and stuff-
Michelle Graves: ... they can move around. I'm not that coordinated.
Jeff Harding: The next one on the list is pickleball, which is a sport that we know well in the Huntsman World Senior Games, but is not necessarily really well known around the world, but it's kind of like a cross between table tennis and tennis.
Michelle Graves: Yeah, it's like short court tennis, but with a paddle instead of a racket, and it's really taking off.
Jeff Harding: It is.
Michelle Graves: It's getting a lot of popularity. Our event fills up faster than any of our other sports and so-
Jeff Harding: It does.
Michelle Graves: ... it's growing.
Jeff Harding: It's especially kind to the aging generation because it has a Wiffle Ball, which doesn't travel quite the same speed as a ball that doesn't have holes in it so it's a little more friendly to those who aren't moving quite as fast as they used to.
Michelle Graves: Yeah, I used to think it was the slower game to tennis, but now I see so many great pickleball players that it's really a skill in its own.
Jeff Harding: It is.
Michelle Graves: The next one is lawn bowling. That's another sport that we have at the games and that's a great team sport that offers the benefits of socialization and gentle fitness activity for older adults.
Jeff Harding: There's also a certain mental aspect to that game. It's a cerebral game. You have to think about how you want your ball to be placed and so forth.
Michelle Graves: Yeah, a lot of strategies involved. I agree.
Jeff Harding: The next one is golf, and do we need to say any more about that? That seems like to be the preferred sport for older folks.
Michelle Graves: Yeah. I think it's maybe you finally have time for it because it's such a skill set sport that-
Jeff Harding: And you can afford it.
Michelle Graves: Yeah, that's probably true, too. The final one is biking. I love that. That's probably my favorite sport and it's a little easier on the joints than running and get to be outside in nature and see a bunch of things, go places.
Jeff Harding: The amazing thing of this list that we read, everything is available at the Huntsman World Senior Games except yoga and Tai chi. We haven't found a way to do competitive yoga or Tai chi yet. If we ever find a way to do that, we may even add those to the games but-
Michelle Graves: It's a possibility.
Jeff Harding: That's right.
Michelle Graves: We're always open.
Jeff Harding: Now, Michelle, joining us from New Mexico is one of our amazing athletes, Ellen Fuller or we'll just call her Ellie. How are you doing, Ellie?
Ellen Fuller: I'm doing fine. Thank you.
Jeff Harding: What'd you think of that list?
Ellen Fuller: It's pretty inclusive. I think it would be great if you had the Tai chi and yoga. That would be wonderful.
Jeff Harding: Do you-
Ellen Fuller: I teach Tai chi and chi gung so that would be great.
Jeff Harding: Do you have a way to do it competitively or is it just something that would have to be done as an exhibition?
Ellen Fuller: I think both. I think the Taichi, I mean it is a fighting form so I think the Taichi. The chi gung is more exhibition.
Jeff Harding: I did not know that.
Michelle Graves: Tell us the difference a little bit because I always don't quite clearly understand the difference in ...
Ellen Fuller: Tai chi is actually a fighting form so each one of those slow movements is a strike or a blow and chi gung is more for health. It's based on the same principles, but chi gung is more as I say for health.
Michelle Graves: It looks beautiful. It's more flowing is what I think, but definitely, they're both a part of the martial art family. Is that correct?
Ellen Fuller: Right, yes, for the mind, body, and soul, and it definitely brings inner strength.
Jeff Harding: Ellie.
Ellen Fuller: Health-
Jeff Harding: Ellie, sorry, excuse me, Ellie, so Ellie, you were from an athletic family, weren't you? You were born back in Brooklyn and your dad was a tennis pro as I understand.
Ellen Fuller: That's correct. I started playing tennis when I was really young. I was probably about 5, and my whole family played tennis so it was a big part of our lives.
Jeff Harding: Now I understand you even had a court in your yard.
Ellen Fuller: I did when I was growing up. It was a clay court so-
Jeff Harding: A clay court.
Ellen Fuller: All the neighbors would come over and my dad would be teaching everybody and it was great having it right there.
Jeff Harding: It's funny 'cause in my mind, I don't think of clay as being as something you'd play tennis on. That's something you get stuck in when it's wet, but ...
Michelle Graves: No. That's what they play on for the US Open and all the big tournaments.
Ellen Fuller: Absolutely. It's softer on your joints.
Jeff Harding: Really?
Ellen Fuller: Yeah, definitely.
Michelle Graves: Yeah, you were lucky. Your dad was involved in tennis?
Ellen Fuller: He was. He played in the year with Don Budge back then. He played in Forest Hills and he was a really good player so that was great.
Michelle Graves: He was a pro?
Ellen Fuller: Yeah, he was.
Michelle Graves: That's neat. That's fantastic. You must be a pretty good player yourself?
Ellen Fuller: When I was younger, I played a lot and then, I took up table tennis instead and I've been doing that regularly, which I love.
Jeff Harding: That's cool. But there's one other thing that I did want to bring out. Your dad had a sports equipment company, did he not?
Ellen Fuller: He did. It was called Regent Sports Company.
Jeff Harding: You have the honor of having a racket named after you.
Ellen Fuller: I did. It was called the Ellen Renewal Tennis Racket. That's really funny because my son and I decided to look it up on eBay and it was for sale. It was really cheap. It was probably about $9.
Michelle Graves: I hope you bought it or that you have some of those as a keepsake.
Ellen Fuller: He did. My son actually got in touch with the man that was selling it and asked him why he had this racket for sale. It turned out he actually worked for my father, and he was collecting all the rackets that had pictures on of people. He has a huge, huge collection and we did buy that.
Michelle Graves: That's neat.
Jeff Harding: That's very cool. That's very cool. Give us a little bit more of your athletic history. You played tennis when you were a younger person, then you switched to table tennis and then did you play table tennis throughout your life? What'd you do in high school?
Ellen Fuller: No, I didn't. I played regular tennis most of my younger life and then, I started playing table tennis I guess about four years ago.
Jeff Harding: So it's a fairly recent addition.
Ellen Fuller: I've been having so much fun with it.
Jeff Harding: What was the motivation to switch from tennis to table tennis?
Ellen Fuller: I think it's easier on my joints and just getting older, I find it much easier.
Jeff Harding: That makes sense to me. That makes sense to me.
Michelle Graves: Have you ever tried pickleball?
Ellen Fuller: I haven't. I've watched it and it looks fabulous and it looks really fun, but I haven't. Most of my energy goes into playing table tennis. I usually play four times a week, about three hours each time, and between that and walking and swimming in the summer, and I'm an artist also, a very realistic painter so my days are pretty full.
Michelle Graves: Sounds like it.
Jeff Harding: Sounds like it.
Michelle Graves: No time for true retirement.
Ellen Fuller: Not at all.
Michelle Graves: We want to hear about that aspect of your life. We love the fitness aspect because we always wonder with our athletes, did you play sports all of your life or did you find it later in life, and it sounds like you began at a very early age and sports became important to you.
Ellen Fuller: Absolutely. I think exercise is .... Especially stretching when you get older, but just being active is so important. Keeps you young.
Jeff Harding: Now I have to admit that we did look at your website and your work and you are an amazing artist, but the question I want to ask is do you find that your physical fitness has an impact on your ability to do the art or your art forms?
Ellen Fuller: I think it's more my chi gung and Tai chi because my paintings are intricate that it's an extension of kind of the meditations and practice.
Michelle Graves: Tell the audience what kind of painting you do and how that relates and when you found it may be in your life.
Ellen Fuller: I've been painting most of my life. I've always done artworks, and years and years ago, I did animation for Sesame Street and a lot of television programs, and I had a very big stained glass business. My paintings are very realistic. People think they're photographs and I do a lot of nature. Yeah, I think just doing the chi gung is really part of my practice when I'm doing my painting.
Jeff Harding: The physical and the mental combination of the chi gung is helping you better focus and be a better painter?
Ellen Fuller: Absolutely. I definitely believe that.
Michelle Graves: What do you think draws you to nature and do you always paint nature?
Ellen Fuller: I am in love with the environment, and I'm out there hiking a lot, and I just find the beauty of the world and want to express it and show people I guess details that they miss in life.
Michelle Graves: That's wonderful. How long does it take to create a piece for you in general?
Ellen Fuller: It can be anywhere from months to a year.
Michelle Graves: Wow.
Ellen Fuller: I know it sounds crazy, but they're so detailed that they take a really, really long time.
Michelle Graves: How can guests find your artwork if they want to go and look at it?
Ellen Fuller: My website is ellenfuller.com.
Michelle Graves: Thank you. You've piqued all of our interests.
Ellen Fuller: I'm sorry.
Michelle Graves: You've piqued all of our interests. I actually did-
Ellen Fuller: Right now, I'm in International Artist magazine. They did a 10-page spread on me, which came out fabulous. I'm really excited about that.
Jeff Harding: Wow, that's impressive.
Michelle Graves: Was it focusing on a certain piece that you did or just your years of-
Ellen Fuller: They actually showed a whole bunch of my paintings, but they wanted me to do a progression of one of my paintings, which was called Wood and so, you actually see how I paint.
Michelle Graves: How long did it take to paint that?
Ellen Fuller: That one was I would say about eight months. I call it Insanity. The detail is crazy and it really is. If anybody wanted to see it, they could look on my website.
Michelle Graves: How long do you spend each day painting would you average?
Ellen Fuller: Once I am involved in a painting, it's usually most of the day and I hardly take breaks.
Michelle Graves: Wow. Exercise and painting, that fills you up.
Jeff Harding: That's a great combination.
Ellen Fuller: Absolutely. I walk every day, and I'm getting ready to start swimming again. I have a pool in my backyard so that's been great. Yeah, just staying busy.
Michelle Graves: That's the key, right?
Ellen Fuller: Yeah, absolutely.
Michelle Graves: It's the magic elixir.
Jeff Harding: If you're just-
Ellen Fuller: Table tennis is such a big part of my life. I absolutely adore it. I'm hooked.
Jeff Harding: That's great. If you're just joining us, you're listening to the Huntsman World Senior Games Active Life on St. George News Radio 1450 AM, and we're visiting with Ellie Fuller, an athlete and an artist who lives in New Mexico. I wanted to focus a bit on the table tennis. You said you picked it up about four years ago. How long have you been competitive doing competitions with your table tennis?
Ellen Fuller: It's been about that long.
Jeff Harding: You went right into the competition.
Ellen Fuller: I did.
Michelle Graves: I think one of the interesting aspects, and we find this a lot with our athletes is that they're never has-beens. They're never like, "Well, I was a professional tennis player, but that was in my earlier years." It's like people with your personality just to keep finding new aspects and then really excelling at them. It's quite remarkable.
Ellen Fuller: I love it. It makes me happy.
Jeff Harding: Ellie, you're one of the early registrants for the Huntsman World Senior Games and I assumed you're just signed for table tennis this year.
Ellen Fuller: Uh-huh.
Jeff Harding: You came last year as well.
Ellen Fuller: I did and, unfortunately at warm up, I smashed my hand on the table and I actually tore ligaments in my finger.
Jeff Harding: Ouch. Don't do that.
Ellen Fuller: I played through it and wound up getting a couple of medals in spite of it, but I'm really looking forward to coming back and playing better.
Jeff Harding: What would your take be of the Huntsman World Senior Games table tennis tournament? How would it rank compared to some of the other events you've been to?
Ellen Fuller: I've only played here in Santa Fe and it was much smaller. Huntsman brings in a bigger diverse population and