Hard Work Pays Off

Photo by Jessica Onderwater

Adult 50+ Competitor Mitch Watkins: Hard Work Pays Off

Focus, discipline and determination are the characteristics of Adult 50+ Men’s Champion Mitch Watkins.

How did he get involved in USA Yoga competition? In 2015, he participated in a Jared McCann workshop in St. Augustine, FL. The instructor there suggested he compete, but his schedule did not allow it. Still, he was curious.

 In January 2016, coach Melissa Basso at Yoga de la Sol, in DeLand, FL told him the Florida competitors would be competing that March. He had only 6 weeks, but he decided to go for it. He worked with his coach, taking 6 Bikram classes a week, and practicing his routine.

Why compete? About his first competition, Mitch says “I felt an inquisitiveness – I wondered what it would all be about – It was just something I felt compelled to do.”

To his surprise, he won first place in the Senior Division (now called Adult 50+) and was invited to Nationals in Jackson Hole, WY. At his very first Nationals competition, he placed 10th in the semi-finals, a great showing for a first-time athlete, and he had a great time with his fellow yogis.

As a result of the 2016 competition year, Mitch decided to continue. “It made so many changes in me in many different ways – my practice growing stronger and blossoming, I started meditating, and my eating habits changed.

Before the 2017 Super-Regionals in TX, his coach suggested the Whole 30 diet, a real lifestyle eating change that helped Mitch feel and look his best. He also began performing the 5 Tibetan Rites and meditating every morning.
“I felt I was still on a path that hadn’t been completed,” Mitch says.

Mitch’s big goal for the 2017 Nationals in Grand Rapids, MI was to make it to the finals and to achieve a score of at least 30. To his delight, he achieved both goals. His score of 30.25 meant he placed second in the Senior Men’s Division, earning a Silver medal and qualifying for Internationals in 2018. “I surprised myself!” he says.

At age 63, he has been practicing for a decade and is not slowing down. He works full time at his handyman job, he became certified in and now teaches Yin yoga weekly, and he continues his regular practice and healthy lifestyle. To him, the main difference in competing as a wise Adult 50+ yogi is knowing when to back off to avoid injury but realizing that improvement is very attainable with hard work. He says the more difficult postures may take 2-3 years to achieve.

Mitch looks forward to the 2018 competition year. “It is a continuation of the path I should be on,” he says.

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