Fitness Tips

Here’s How This Professional Dancer Keeps Her Hips Mobile at Age 62

Photo: Getty Images/Alistair Berg
Talk to Naomi Goldberg Haas long enough, and you’re bound to hear one oh-so-catchy catchphrase: “Motion is lotion.” For anyone who wants to stay healthy and active throughout their life (and who among us doesn’t?!), Goldberg Haas believes deeply in building on prior momentum and trying to never break a movement streak.

It’s an ethos that powers her ultra-active professional life: At 62, she’s not just a professional dancer, but also a master teacher, choreographer, and founding artistic director of Dances for a Variable Population—a New York City-based professional dance company with a special focus on older dance artists. Who better to consult for tips and tricks on maintaining—and gaining—hip mobility at any age?

Ask yourself: How do I feel today?

“I measure my physical sensitivity every day,” says Goldberg Haas. “Really spend time thinking about how you feel on this particular day, because today's not like yesterday.” Try a daily body scan to help you tailor your workout regimen to what your body wants and needs at that moment.

Never skip that warm-up or cooldown

Make sure you allow at least 10 minutes each for a full warm-up and cooldown (both of which Goldberg Haas swears by for long-term hip health and comfort).

In designing your warm-up routine, remember that, as Goldberg Haas likes to say, “Movement comes from movement.” Start small, gradually adding on intensity, speed, and range of motion.

Goldberg Haas begins with light dynamic stretches (never static), such as runner’s lunge, figure four, and rotations of the hip, i.e. “bend your knee to bring it up to the chest, and then move it side to side.”

She will then bring up her heart rate with sways, swinging movements, and twists side to side or diagonally. “I also really like stretching to the beat—high and low, finding the rhythm of your body,” she says. “And twists are very healthy for mobility of your spine and hips.” If standing upright isn’t available to you on any given day, Goldberg Haas strongly encourages doing any or all of the above while seated.

Practice yoga every day

Goldberg Haas also recommends daily yoga to physically center yourself. This can help strengthen and increase awareness of the structures that surround and support healthy hips. “Find a teacher who has a personality you really like—someone who’s attentive to your movement,” she advises.

Try this "Happy Hips" flow to loosen up:

Get strong to get mobile

Strength and mobility are closely entwined, Goldberg Haas says: “The hip, buttocks, quads, and lower back are common areas where people’s muscles weaken as we get older. I’ve seen it in myself and also in students: Weak muscles are tight muscles. You might have to strengthen before you feel more mobile.”

To build strength in these key areas, add at least 10 reps each of squats and high knees to your strength-training habits. Goldberg Haas suggests literally placing your hands on the target muscles while you work slowly and carefully, so as to check in on your form and progress.

Move until you feel better

Even if you’re having a bad day, pain-wise, Goldberg Haas would encourage you to try out some gentle movements: “It’s incredible how uncomfortable you’ll feel when you do not move. Just keep moving through the stiffness and discomfort, and you’ll feel better.”

That doesn’t mean going from zero to 100 if you’re not feeling it. (And, of course, consult a medical professional before attempting to push through an injury, chronic pain, or tissue damage.) Start where you are and build from there. That’s been the winning strategy for Goldberg Haas: “It’s all about movement. I've moved through everything.”

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