Like many weekend warriors who play or practice the sport they love for fun, Hong Kong’s Vicente Di Clemente had hit a bit of a wall. The avid outrigger canoeist had been competing in local competitions, but found he was unable to break through to the next level no matter how hard he tried. “I’ve been paddling for three years now, and I always found some ceiling,” the 50-year-old, who has lived in the city for 10 years and works in the banking industry, said. “It doesn’t matter how much I improved my technique or how much time I spent in the water, there was a point beyond which my performance stalled.” Di Clemente was on the third team at his local paddling club, however knew he would have to start performing better than at least 10 paddlers to move up teams. Clemente said he spoke to his trainer at the time, who said he needed better conditioning, so the Italian native tried everything – HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training), circuit training and weightlifting – however nothing seemed to move the needle. As the world’s average age continues to climb, many older people are finding ways to stay fit into their senior years . According to the World Health Organization, the number of people aged 60 years already totals more than 1.4 billion, a number that is expected to double by 2050. Many middle agers trying to stay in shape such as Di Clemente are finding it difficult to access specific training programmes geared towards them. As people age, injuries are more difficult to overcome, which means playing sports and keeping fit can be tough to navigate in a fitness industry that is largely geared towards those under 40. ‘I’ve never felt fitter or healthier’: trail runner on her vegan diet Studies are showing that training programmes for those over 40 need to be specifically tailored to each individual, and generic training programmes are a recipe for disaster for anyone who is not relatively fit or healthy to begin with. Di Clemente said going in he thought he could only do so much when it came to training and was going to be burdened by limitations. “Before I was looking at the weight and saying, ‘Leave it. I don’t want to get injured.’ And obviously, I was hitting the wall all the time.” I have problems with mobility, and every time I was trying to lift a few extra kilos, I would start to have a problem with my shoulder or elbow. I thought that maybe I’m too old for this.” Turns out he just needed a specifically tailored model to follow, which Di Clemente found through Ultimate Performance Fitness in Hong Kong, which works with clients on an individualistic basis when it comes to personal training. In 13 weeks, Di Clemente was able to shed 10kg while still maintaining enough muscle mass to keep canoeing. The data driven approach at UP helped immensely, Di Clemente said, noting that things like hitting specific muscle groups, and working on posture and stability so he could lift heavier, were all key components for his transformation. “I don’t remember the last time I got injured, and that obviously gave me a lot of confidence to go heavier and heavier and heavier … There’s a lot of science behind lifting weights. It’s not just ‘lift, lift, lift’ or eat chicken and vegetables all day long.” As the health and wellness industry booms, the internet is getting oversaturated with fitness tips, tricks, plans and ideologies. Di Clemente said he’d got sucked into this, but found that educating himself via a qualified trainer in person was way better than trying to cherry-pick on social media. “Online people are saying different kinds of things, and you don’t know exactly where to start or how to perform,” he said. “When I started, I wasn’t interested in what I looked like, only my performance on the water. But when I saw this clear six-pack and how lean I was, I was like, ‘Woah, this is amazing.’” Now as one of the top outrigger canoeists on his team, which recently won the mixed unlimited category at the Around the Island Hong Kong Race, Di Clemente said his goal is clearer than ever. “I am 50 years old, and I cannot compete with 20 year old guys, but to be one of the fastest old people in Hong Kong is great,” he said.