Coach Pop’s Views at the Start of 2023

Written by István Javorek

New Year’s resolutions are not for me, because I see the new year as a mere continuation of the previous year. For example, I begin 2023, looking forward to continuing an activity I started last year. A little while ago, I started helping Szekler (Székely) children from the villages in Hargita County, who have chosen ice hockey as their favorite sport. I have been …

I. Question Dr. J: It’s 2023 … As you went over into 2023, what were you thankful for and what New Year’s resolutions did you make?

Answer István Javorek (aka Coach Pop):

I didn’t even notice that a year ended. Ever since the pandemic started, I have been losing track of what day of the week it actually is, even though I am quite busy with daily gardening, other chores around the house, conducting one-on-one training sessions and keeping in touch with my clients over the Internet. Does time sensitivity decrease after retirement?

The year begins with me being grateful for the fact that, except for a small upper arm bone fracture as well as some joint discomfort related to age and performance sports, I can call myself healthy. Thanks to my 14,000 – 15,000 steps a day, walking fast in a nearby park, and my daily training with light weights, my resting heart rate is now 40 bpm and I have almost kept my body weight. Unfortunately, my muscles have lost some of their former tone and I am six kilograms lighter than my competitive body weight. To look on the positive side, though, I have not gained weight and will be able to keep the same belt for my pants this year as well.

New Year’s resolutions are not for me, because I see the new year as a mere continuation of the previous year. For example, I begin 2023, looking forward to continuing an activity I started last year. A little while ago, I started helping Szekler (Székely) children from the villages in Hargita County, who have chosen ice hockey as their favorite sport. I have been developing suitable outdoor training plans for them and providing them with all sorts of advice. I have also been mentoring the coaches of the Gyergyószék and Csikszék Jég-Vi-Har (Jégkorongozó – Rural Hargita) school hockey teams in the area of strength and conditioning. Being able to contribute to the development of rural children from thousands of kilometers away, fills me with overwhelming emotion and gives me an unbelievable sense of satisfaction and joy. I hope this venture will be successful, and I would be very happy if more children from these hidden villages in Hargita County could grow up to become successful ice hockey players.

II. Question Dr. J: By the time this blog is published, you will have turned 80 years old. How do you feel? How are you better at this age and what has become more difficult?

How old did you say I was? Good God!  My joints will disagree, but the rest of me still feels 28 years old.

All my life I have enjoyed creating something new. I have always carried a small notebook to jot down spontaneous ideas. I still have new ideas to this day. For example, I have been training a 12-year-old boy with some physical disabilities. He motivates me to developed new training plans for him, and I take tremendous pleasure in watching him develop into a healthy athlete. He may not become a world champion, and it is a challenge for me to decide on the most suitable training methods for his particular physical and emotional needs and abilities.

Answer István Javorek (aka Coach Pop):

But to answer your question specifically, I feel better now, in old age, because I have accumulated experience and have only gained in confidence over time.

What is more difficult now? Nothing. I have always been an optimist and have never looked back. I have always believed that there was a solution to every problem. You just needed to analyze the situation thoroughly, believe in your success, and fight relentlessly.

I have always tried to instill a positive attitude towards life in my athletes and my students. I have taught them to consciously choose to laugh and be cheerful, to seize opportunities and to overcome difficult situations.

III. Question Dr. J: Do you think aging is a hardship or a privilege? How and why?

Answer István Javorek (aka Coach Pop):

This is not a question I ask myself. As the French say: “C’est la vie,” as in, “That’s life!” I do not consider old age to be an advantage or a disadvantage. It is the natural manifestation of life on earth.

IV. Question Dr. J:You were a coach all your life. In very general terms, what advice could you give us about working out?

Answer István Javorek (aka Coach Pop):

In sports, as in all areas of life, there are always new methods and new innovations. According to the innovators, the training methods have irrefutable advantages. It is interesting to me that even new variations of thousand-year-old yoga are invented, especially by those so-called experts who tempt naive clients with some sensational exercises. But also, if we look at my field of athletics, weightlifting and all-sports physical fitness training, the sport itself has not changed, only the equipment and the technical implementation.

Today, it is difficult to imagine modern physical training without the huge repertoire of exercise variations made possible by weightlifting (including barbell and dumbbell exercises, calisthenics, etc.).

Dumbbell exercises are my favorite, because they are generally safe, do not require a large practice area, and are easy to teach. They can be done simultaneously and very efficiently with a large number of athletes, the exercises are dynamic and have a large range of motion, and a wide variation of movements is possible. Dumbbell exercises help develop muscle strength, cardiovascular and muscular endurance, flexibility, and general fitness. 

Dumbbell exercises should be combined with a variety of plyometrics, ballistics, and stretching-shortening exercises.

V. Question Dr. J: What are you looking forward to the most in this 80th year of your life?

Answer István Javorek (aka Coach Pop):

To see the Javorek clan together. To hug my daughter and my grandchildren. And, as I wrote in a poem in the first difficult months of my escape from communism in 1982:

“…Believe, my little darling,
We will be together again next year,
We will have fun and travel the world…”

Written by István Javorek

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