Personal trainer to the stars Pat Henry's tips on how to get your sex drive back - and keep yourself young
Well-known personal trainer Pat Henry, who has trained the likes of Bruce Springsteen and Madonna, is about to turn 70 and is still helping others reach their fitness goals. He tells Liadan Hynes how he stays fit and healthy, both mentally and physically.
'It is really important to associate with people who are mentally young, whatever their age," says Pat.
"So people who are not talking about their illnesses, but who have ambitions to be fit. I have a client who is 75 who has started training to be fit for his wife. Being around people like that will make you do things you thought you would never do again. It makes your brain realise it can do new things."
Weight training, says Pat, is the most effective exercise in terms of maintaining brain, and body, fitness. "When you're over 25, 30, your body stops producing human growth hormone. And the only exercise that stimulates it to the same extent as when we were young is weight training. If you do a weight-training programme, your body starts trickling growth hormone into the system and starts to improve your brain power, increase your muscle tone, and decrease your body fat. Your energy levels come back, your sex drive comes back, and your drive and ambition come back."
Pat himself turns 70 in a few months. "More than anything else, weight training releases testosterone in men and oestrogen in women but, more importantly, it releases the growth hormone, and that is what gets us back to what we were like when we were young."
Whatever your age, it is never too late to take up a new training regime. "The most important thing is to invest in even one session a month with a personal trainer - someone who understands how to check your fitness level, and then puts together a cardiovascular weigh training programme," says Pat. "You can push anybody, of any age, to get them into good shape."
In terms of keeping your brain stimulated, Pat recommends taking up a new hobby, specifically, learning a new musical instrument. "It starts getting the pathways in your brain to open up in a different way, and stimulates a lot of the serotonin in your brain, which gets the whole system up and running. You don't have to be Andre Rieu," says Pat, who is himself a member of three bands, a jazz trio, a rock and roll band, and a blues band. "We played Electric Picnic; music is one of the best things you could possibly do."
Truly being happy with yourself, a feeling cultivated by alone time, is key. "I think it's important to spend a little bit of time alone, in contemplation, where there's no noise. No radio. No television. Certainly no headphones. Have a little bit of quiet time for you, to walk in the park, just be on your own. Feel what it's like to be happy in yourself. You don't need anybody or anything. If you can feel happy in yourself, your brain will actually function really efficiently."
Technology is something he himself finds a challenge. "I'm useless at computers, I only learnt to text recently, and I find there's too much technology; I'd rather talk to people. Whether we like it or not, we're probably going to have to join a library club that will teach us. But again if you associate with young people, they'll teach you anyway."
Meditation is of huge benefit, but Pat explains that it does not need to be complicated. "You don't have to go up a hill on your own, have a guru or a mantra. The teachings of Jiddu Krishnamurti focus on letting go of your thoughts. If you are thinking about letting go of your thoughts, you are not doing it. Instead, do whatever activity you are doing 100pc. When your head is fully engaged, that is truly meditation. It will bring you to wherever you should be - to the next stage of development."
* Associate with people who are mentally young. Have good friends.
* Take up weight training - at any age.
* Stick close to a Mediterranean diet, but enjoy your food. You have to be able to go out for a meal.
Sunday Indo Living