The cost of the middle age make-over

Keeping young and beautiful can be a full-time, costly job, writes Rob Stock.

Middle age can be an expensive time of life for those determined to hold the clock back, and invest in themselves.
QUENTIN JONES/FAIRFAX

Middle age can be an expensive time of life for those determined to hold the clock back, and invest in themselves.

People in their 40s and 50s often find themselves looking in the mirror and wanting to make big changes.

Health, vitality and looks are increasingly expected of those in leadership roles and they are no longer just the preserve of the young.

The middle years are also a time when people look at their bank balances and ask whether they have paid enough of the mortgage off as they'd like.

But that's not the only financial challenge. It can be an expensive time of life for those determined to hold the clock back, and invest in themselves.

BODY:

It has become an unspoken requirement that the modern executive looks like they exert the same control over their personal lives as they have over the businesses they run. 

It's a feeling Peter Rana's BodyTech gym taps into.

"Someone's lack of physical fitness is a sign something is happening in their lifestyle they don't have control of," Rana says.

Rana's "BoomerHit" program is a strength-training programme designed to build muscle. It's based on research that shows that muscle mass is essential for good health.

It also delivers the sharp, vital look that execs, both men and women, want, and it does it without requiring long hours at the gym.

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"They are not looking for entertainment," Rana says. "They are looking for results."

For $700, you get an eight-week closely supervised training schedule of two to three gym visits a week.

After that, there's the option to continue membership and do you two trips a week with modest supervision, or continue with a more costly personal touch.

The focus is on intensity, not time of the weights, Rana says, which is handy because: "There's no two ways about it. If you are in middle age and you are working or own your own business, or running a company, you want to get your results in the smallest amount of time you can."

FACE:

Dr Catherine Stone from The Face Place says: "Your face is your business card in the business world."

Stone says she's probably the most expensive non-surgical face specialist in the country, but says even then the costs are well within many people's price ranges.

At the lower end, Botox treatments once every two to three months to deal to frown lines, can cost as little as $100-$200 a session.

But, as Stone says, it's like renovating a house; you can spend a lot, or a little on it, though the face is probably one area where you don't want to be seeking bargain-priced treatments.

Commonly people want better definition of features, and fewer frown lines and crows feet. says Stone.

The guys want their faces to look vital and strong, the women want a fresh and beautiful look.

Botox, dermal fillers, and even the intriguing "Vampire" facelift, which involves injecting "platelet-rich plasma" from a patient's own blood into areas of the face which need rejuvenating.

It's not just faces people are getting work on. The Vampire treatments are also being used by Stone for more intimate results: O'shots for women, and Priapus shots for men, but aimed at rejuvenating the places the sun rarely reaches.

"We will often have couples who come for both the O-Shot and Priapus Shot together," she says.

MIND:

 Loretta Brown from the New Zealand Coaching and Mentoring Centre, thinks the term mid-life crisis can be a bit insulting. "A mid-life crisis is the classic explanation for feelings of frustration, irritability and futility, especially for high performers," she wrote recently.

But the late forties and fifties are often when people feel a shift in the things they want from life. "There are big transitions happening," she says. "There's a shift from ambition to meaning which happens around mid-life."

Often her clients have made their money, and are financially free.

Now they want to make a difference, and are ready to change both their work, but also themselves.

Coaching and mentoring is about becoming a better version of yourself, overcoming some of the self-imposed limitations that are holding you back.

Clients start with a three to six month package which aims to produce long-lasting change. It's an investment of around $5000.

Brown, the author of Beyond Busy, says other, cheaper, forms of coaching and mentoring are "peer coaching" and online services.

Often organisations pay the likes of Brown to work their executives, but, she says: "People often come to leadership coaching off their own bat if their organisation isn't funding it."

We are not yet quite at the point where having a coach or mentor is a status symbol, as it is in the US, Brown says.

MOUTH:

In the US, there is such a thing as "executive dentistry", dentistry for executives and sales people who need to be able to flash confidence-inspiring smiles at customers, investors and the media.

And with dental technology having developed fast mouth "rehabilitation" is a booming business in New Zealand as the pressure increases to have a healthy, youthful-looking teeth later and later in life.

Dr Richard Henderson, a Christchurch periodontist, says: "We are slowly following the Americans. We are not quite at the Donny Osmond look, but people are put off when somebody smiles and there are bleeding gums and missing teeth."

He believes many people think the treatments are more expensive than they really are, but he says he sees people from all walks of life. Prices can cost up to $60K for the full works.

There is a New Zealand dental divide as dentistry is largely unsubsidised by the Government, and a pristine smile locates you in the wealth spectrum.

MONEY:

Middle age is a time to look at the sum or your personal wealth, including the mortgage, and asking: Can't I do better than this?

Years left in the workforce are shortening, so it is time to make some money stick.

Just as you can hire a personal fitness trainer, you can hire a personal financial trainer. EnableMe is one business doing that, but many are so mortgage-focused they end up with New Zealand Home Loans, a Kiwibank-owned business that helps people restructure their mortgages, trim expenses and pay off their loan years early, saving them money and getting them in a position to save for retirement and, if they choose, get into property investing.

NZ Home Loans' Mike Colombus says late forties and early fifties is a common time for people to first seek assistance in getting ahead.

"A lot of them say, 'Hey! I'm 45, and I don't want a mortgage at 65'."

Fear drives some of it. "Some are facing a mortgage after age 65, so at some point, they pull back from day to day life, and think about the big picture, and think that is not where I want to be, that it's time some things changed."

Bit changes are possible, Columbus says, even through just upping mortgage payments by a relatively small amount. "It can be a few dollars each week more, and suddenly a 30-year mortgage becomes 25."

As with coaching, financial coaching comes at a cost. EnableMe is fee-based, charging for its consultants' time.

NZ Home Loans makes its money through the sale of financial products like mortgages and insurance.

LOOK: Jackie O'Fee is a personal image stylist and a personal shopper, often hired by companies to get their leaders and future leaders the right look, though many decide to invest in their look as a way of feeling more comfortable in taking on new, higher-powered roles.

For many it is a form of corporate camouflage.

"If you look sharp, people don't notice, but they certainly notice, if you don't," O'Fee says.

There is usually a trigger event that results in people coming to her for a wardrobe make-over, she says. It could be the woman taking a step up to the board, or a man being groomed for partnership in a law firm.

She has a range of customers, but late forties is a common age for people to first make contact.

For the non-corporate clients, there can be very personal motivations. One woman, for instance, told O'Fee: "My 20s were for my husband, my 30s were for my children, and my forties are for me."

An eight-session series of consultations costs $2000, and then there's the money needed for the clothes. That can easily be $5000 for a rising executive, but spends can be just a couple of thousand.

 - Stuff

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