NEW HARTFORD — Norwich native and Founder and Grandmaster of the New Hartford-based American Martial Arts Institute Clifford Crandall has created a series of 60-second videos called "Still Alive and Kicking," which aim to inspire seniors to go out and try new activities.
Each video covers a new activity, ranging from canoeing to horseback riding, visiting a museum, kite flying, pickleball, hiking, skeet shooting, and more. New videos are posted on the first and 15th of each month on Crandall's website, StillAliveandKicking.org. All videos are free to watch and posted year-round.
Crandall, who recently turned 75 years old, said he came up with the idea while on a vacation to celebrate his birthday.
"Every time I take a vacation I schedule a canoe trip, I schedule horseback riding, I play some golf, I do miniature golf, and I do some bicycling and stuff. So we did this one little trip because I was turning 75, and while we were on it and I’m doing all this stuff I’m thinking, I’m 75 years old. My group, my people, all of my age group should be doing these things, they should know about these things, and they don’t," Crandall said. "I said, you know, I ought to find a way to share it with people and just get it out there."
When he returned from his trip, Crandall began working on scripts, content, and producing the videos to get them out to the public. Currently there are ten videos in the "Still Alive and Kicking" series, with more to come.
While each video focuses on a different activity, they all cover three key elements that Crandall wants seniors to engage in: staying physically active, mentally stimulated, and emotionally engaged.
"I want you to get physically active, mentally stimulated, and move your emotions. So we get the body going, the brain going, and your emotions going," said Crandall. "That’s part of staying healthy, it’s part of us being actively aggressive to stop Alzheimer's, Parkinson’s, dementia. All the things that we know are out there, we’re just trying to hold them back by staying physically active, mentally stimulated, and emotionally moved."
He also makes sure to provide a diverse range of activities fit for all individuals, as some seniors may have mobility restrictions or injuries that don't allow them to participate in higher intensity activities.
"My group is a diverse group because some of the seniors are still very healthy and very active, and some are challenged and some have a small gait when they walk, a short, tight one. Some have had surgeries or have lower back challenges, and so I try to hit a diversity," said Crandall. "I’ve already done things along the line of a swimming pool aerobics class, because maybe your lower back just can’t take the demand of standing on your feet."
In addition to providing ideas for things to get out and do, Crandall said the videos are also meant to show seniors they truly can stay active and try out new things that may seem intimidating at first.
"If you’ve retired and haven’t done anything in five years or six years, you wonder if you can do it. Am I really healthy enough to do that? And so in my 60-second spots they see me doing it and they go, ‘okay, okay,'" he explained.
"I give points on, if you're going to do canoeing, for a couple of dollars you can order a canoe seat. Boy it makes it so much better sitting on the little thing," he added. "If you’re going to go to the dirt track as an activity and watch the races, take protective eyewear and hearing protection, and again, a seat cushion for the benches. It makes it so much more enjoyable. So it’s just, here’s a suggestion, here’s some points that will make it better for you, and give it a try."
Although the videos are geared toward seniors, Crandall said anyone of any age can benefit from the activities. Plus, he said getting involved in activities when young can make it easier to stick with them through life and stay an active senior.
Ultimately, the videos keep individuals engaged in life and with others. Activities do not have to be strenuous or of high intensity to be worth it. According to Crandall, “Anything that gets you up and stimulated is an activity," even if it's something calming, like joining a book club or trimming bonsai trees.
"There’s so many activities and we get so busy in our lives we forget they’re there or we don’t know how much they’ve improved. You know, kite flying is just a wonderful activity and it’s amazing the designs of the current kites," Crandall said. "The kites just take off and you're there sitting in the chair, you’ve gone out, you’ve done something, people are stopping, children are smiling, and they’re talking to you about the kites, and you’re socializing and you’re working your brain. You've put a smile on your face and a smile on a lot of other people’s faces, and it’s wonderful."
Grandmaster Crandall was born and raised in Norwich, and has worked as a superintendent of schools, high school principal, elementary school principal, and classroom teacher in New York State. In 1984, Crandall left the public education field to pursue a full-time career in martial arts.
Now, he owns and operates the the American Martial Arts Institute in New Hartford. Crandall has 56 years of experience practicing the martial arts, and is a 10th degree black belt. His school teaches three forms of traditional martial arts: American Eagle Style (empty hand), Takenouchi-Hangan-Ryu-Matsuno-Crandall Iaido/Batto-do (300 year old samurai sword style), and American Eagle Cane Style (traditional cane).
To watch the "Still Alive and Kicking" video series, or to learn more about Grandmaster Crandall and the American Martial Arts Institute, visit StillAliveandKicking.org, AMAI-EagleStyle.com, or Facebook.com/AmericanMartialArtsInstitute.
Groups may also contact the AMAI for flash drives containing the series at 315-278-7157 or email@example.com.