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 a 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 Taichi. 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 gong 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 gong 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 your 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 table tennis. You said you picked it up about four years ago. How long have you been competing in 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 it was intimidating in the beginning, I have to admit. I was a little nervous, but everybody is so nice and really friendly, and I will probably see a lot of those people again, which will be great. It was run really, really well.

Jeff Harding:
We like to hear that, we like to that 'cause our attendants are the ... people come for health, friendship, and worldwide peace, and it sounds like we've hit all three of those with you.

Ellen Fuller:
Yeah, it's true. I'm really looking forward to going back. I'm also going to play in the nationals here in Albuquerque this summer, which will be fun.

Michelle Graves:
Yeah, that's convenient for you living over there.

Ellen Fuller:
I know. It's great.

Michelle Graves:
We'll be there as well, so you'll have to look for us.

Ellen Fuller:
Definitely. I would like that.

Jeff Harding:
Did you get a chance to participate in any of the other activities outside of just the competition during the games and any of the other events that we have during the games here in St. George?

Ellen Fuller:
No, I didn't, but I enjoyed just looking around St. George and there were some great restaurants. I really thought it was a very interesting place.

Jeff Harding:
Did you make the opening ceremonies?

Ellen Fuller:
No, I didn't.

Michelle Graves:
We recommend that 'cause that is a fun event.

Jeff Harding:
You'll definitely want to do it this year, yes, 'cause we have a parade of athletes just like the Olympics, so you'll be able to march in with all your other table tennis competitors and march into the stadium to applause and then, get to watch an opening ceremonies similar to what you might see at the Olympics, maybe not as quite as grand a scale, but every bit of the quality of the Olympics.

Ellen Fuller:
I know. I spoke to some people about it and they said it was wonderful, so I will definitely do that next year or this coming year.

Jeff Harding:
How's the rehab on your hand coming? Do you feel like you're back to 100%?

Ellen Fuller:
Not at all. It's so frustrating. I'm playing. I have to keep my fingers taped, but I'm playing in spite of it. I had to take off a couple of months and I just started playing just recently. It's still not better.

Michelle Graves:
Oh, no. I hope it's not your painting hand.

Ellen Fuller:
It is.

Michelle Graves:
You're kidding.

Ellen Fuller:
My painting and playing a hand.

Michelle Graves:
Oh, no.

Ellen Fuller:
I know.

Michelle Graves:
That is discouraging.

Ellen Fuller:
Frustrating.

Jeff Harding:
Maybe you need to learn to play and paint with the other hand so that you-

Ellen Fuller:
That's what a couple of other players had said, but I tried once and I'm hopeless so forget it.

Michelle Graves:
It's not as easy as it seems.

Ellen Fuller:
Not at all. Not at all.

Michelle Graves:
We love your story and we're so glad that you joined us today. Can you give advice to any of our listeners, athletes and things like that as to what motivates you to do the things that you do? We want to kind of delve into that a little bit and talk about how you just get up every day and accomplish such great things?

Ellen Fuller:
For me, it's easy. I can't imagine just being still. I need to be active. Every morning before I get up, I do exercises in my bed and then, I sometimes do my practice and-

Jeff Harding:
Wait, wait, wait. What kind of exercises do you do in your bed? Stretching or-

Ellen Fuller:
Stretches.

Jeff Harding:
Stretches.

Ellen Fuller:
Stretches, lots of stretches and then I'll get up and do part of my practice, my chi gung practice, and during the day, I'll take a walk, and I'm very active and I think just doing that keeps you young.

Michelle Graves:
Tell us about your chi gung practice a little bit. I maybe overlooked talking about the fact that you are an instructor. Do you teach somewhere or ...

Ellen Fuller:
I do. I teach, in the summer when it gets warm, I teach outside in a park and there's a facility in a town called the Light Vessel and I teach in there sometimes or I have a studio at my home and sometimes, some of the students will come here. I have very small classes 'cause I like to work with just a few people and I've been teaching for years, over 20 years.

Jeff Harding:
Now did you take that up when you moved to New Mexico or is that something you brought with you from New York?

Ellen Fuller:
I took it up here.

Jeff Harding:
Just the New Mexico, it's a lot like Southern Utah where we're at. Was it the Red Rocks? What was your inspiration for taking up the martial arts?

Ellen Fuller:
I did yoga for a while and it never resonated. As soon as I did the Tai chi and chi gong, it just felt like it was part of me and that I needed to do it. It's interesting. I have two grandchildren and they're in California and they go to a mixed martial art academy, and the teachers knew that I taught and asked me if I would teach the instructor's chi gung 'cause they have never done it before. It was one of the highlights. There were about 30 people and they were fighters mostly. The teacher was so kind. He turned down the lights and he had brought flowers in and lit some candles, and everybody got really quiet and still and it was very, very rewarding. I loved it. My son even came and wanted to support me and he did it and he had never done the chi gung before so that was great.

Jeff Harding:
Wow. Is he now a practitioner of it? Did you [crosstalk 00:20:57] him?

Ellen Fuller:
No, not at all. He doesn't have time, he works too hard, but it was just very sweet of him to come and do that.

Jeff Harding:
It's just wonderful. You're kind of a renaissance person. It's kind of fun to talk to somebody who's a renaissance person who's not defined by a single aspect or facet of life, but that they're kind of embracing the entire world around them. I think that's kind of amazing.

Ellen Fuller:
Thank you. I appreciate that.

Michelle Graves:
Yeah, you're definitely defying aging. Let's go back to that question. What motivation can you give others to live life like you live, full and genuine and accomplished?

Ellen Fuller:
Just don't stop. Keep going.

Michelle Graves:
In just whatever you love and ...

Ellen Fuller:
In whatever you love. I don't think it really matters what it is, but just stay active.

Michelle Graves:
Yeah, we agree that's why we call it the Active Life.

Jeff Harding:
If you were talking to a friend or somebody who was just on the couch about getting active or maybe even competing in events, what advice or what counsel, what would you say to them to maybe encourage them to get off the couch and go be active?

Ellen Fuller:
Just try it and see what it feels like. I don't know if that's very helpful, but-

Michelle Graves:
If you like it to continue, right?

Ellen Fuller:
Pardon?

Michelle Graves:
If you like it continue.

Ellen Fuller:
Just keep doing it. Just keep doing it. Makes such a difference, it really does.

Michelle Graves:
Yeah. That's the key. We're so blessed to hear from you today. We love to have our athletes on and talk about ... get to know you a little bit on a more personal basis and we're doing this by phone call so we haven't actually been able to be face to face as we aren't with our audience either, but we sure enjoyed it and, Ellen, we're going to try to make a point to meet you and shake your hand when you come to the games this year.

Jeff Harding:
We'll have a booth at the-

Ellen Fuller:
That'd be great. I would love that. Thank you so much.

Michelle Graves:
Thank you.

Ellen Fuller:
We'll also have a booth at the nationals so when you're at the nationals when you're checking in the athlete village, look us up, we'll be there.

Michelle Graves:
That's true. We'll see you there first.

Ellen Fuller:
Great.

Michelle Graves:
Thanks for being on today.

Jeff Harding:
Thank you, Ellen.

Ellen Fuller:
Thank you.

Jeff Harding:
We appreciate you being here.

Ellen Fuller:
Take care.

Jeff Harding:
Bye-bye.

Ellen Fuller:
Bye.

Jeff Harding:
That's about all the time we have for today. It's amazing how fast our half hour passes. Isn't it, Michelle?

Michelle Graves:
It really is.

Jeff Harding:
Speaking of time passing quickly, 2019 is just flying by.

Michelle Graves:
I know and we are seeing buds of spring.

Jeff Harding:
Yes, we are.

Michelle Graves:
Blooms are arising and that ... To just even be through winter makes me a little bit nervous 'cause I know how fast it's going to come and we've got a lot to do to get ready, but we are on our way, aren't we?

Jeff Harding:
Yeah, we have over 2,800 athletes who already registered for the games, which is about 500 ahead of where we were last year at this time so we're filling up fast, which is really cool.

Michelle Graves:
Yes.

Jeff Harding:
In fact, pickleball has reached its participation cap.

Michelle Graves:
You can still be put on a waiting list so don't despair.

Jeff Harding:
If people drop out, yeah, and bowling is really close, but that's okay 'cause we still have 33 other sports that you can choose from if you can't get into one of those sports so ...

Michelle Graves:
Right, right. Please join. Softball, the same. Some of our sports just fill up right away, but we want everyone that we can to be able to participate and we work hard to accommodate so don't despair, but do get online and sign up today.

Jeff Harding:
Yes. It's really easy to do, just go to www.seniorgames.net and click on register. Or you can call the office at 1-800-562-1268 and just tell me you'd like to get registered over the phone. It's just that easy.

Jeff Harding:
If you have any comments or questions or feedback about the show, we'd love to hear from you. Just send an email to activelife@seniorgames.net. You can listen to this or any other show that we've done on the Active Life by going to our website at seniorgames.net or by downloading the ...

Michelle Graves:
Podcast.

Jeff Harding:
The podcast and you can do that by going to your Google Store or the i store of the ...

Michelle Graves:
On iTunes or Apple.

Jeff Harding:
iTunes, thank you. Apple store.

Michelle Graves:
Yeah, there are lots of ways to find us and were easy to find.

Jeff Harding:
Search for Senior Games Active Life, Huntsman World Senior Games Active Life and you can hear any of our previous shows. In fact, give us a review. We'd love to have that happen. Our quote for the day comes from Bobby Unser, the famous race car driver. He said, "Success is where preparation and opportunity meet."

Michelle Graves:
Yeah.

Jeff Harding:
That's great.

Michelle Graves:
That's great for sports. I guess for life, but especially in sports.

Jeff Harding:
For life, yeah.

Michelle Graves:
That's where you want it to all come together. That's a great quote.

Jeff Harding:
'Til next time, stay active everyone.

Michelle Graves:
Bye-bye.