‘You know mum – you’re middle aged – it’s about time you started exercising – I’ve just joined the McGill University gym – you should do the same – join a gym.’ That phone call from my son Michael came six months after my 50th birthday. Clearly he had decided it was time his mother got off the couch!
May I step back a bit before I continue?
I actually came from a very lazy family – when I was growing up in Glasgow, Scotland, I never even saw my parents going for as much as a walk! Neither of them played any sports whatsoever, and back then, gyms didn’t exist. We really didn’t know what we know now – that exercise is the best thing we can do for our health. The result was that I was a bit of a lazy slob, and knew absolutely nothing about the benefits of keeping fit. I did do a bit of yoga in my 30’s, and I also tried some speed-walking. But my life was about to change ….. at the age of 43, following the sudden death of my husband, I decided to emigrate to Toronto, Canada. I packed my bags and Michael and I headed out for our adventure!
It was 21 years ago, but I will never forget that conversation with Michael – my knee-jerk reaction was to tell him to look after his body and I would look after mine – but I guess something must have registered, because when we returned from our Christmas vacation a few weeks later, I did in fact, join my local gym. After five days of speed-walking round the track, I was incredibly bored, and noticed there was an aerobics class in an adjoining area – I decided to join in. That was when I became a ‘fitness groupie’! It didn’t take too long before I was working out five times a week and I realized I had become committed to keeping my body healthy …..furthermore, I really liked looking toned!
I should become a personal trainer for’ little old ladies’!
Then in 2005, while waiting in the supermarket checkout, someone stopped me and asked if I ‘worked out’. When I asked why, she told me she could tell ‘because of my arms’! I was stunned, but I guess 15 years of regular workouts was starting to show! The following day, at my early morning gym class I was telling my gym-buddy about the comment from the woman in the supermarket, and I heard myself saying ‘You know I should become a personal trainer for little old ladies’. ‘Good idea’ she said. That was when I had my epiphany – yes, I would become a personal trainer! I immediately went online to find out where I could receive my training.
I spent the entire winter studying the course material, which was a huge challenge for me as I had never done a science course in my life. I found it incredibly difficult to gain knowledge of all the muscle groups that control my body. I managed to stick with it, however, with the help of a young fitness instructor at my gym who agreed to tutor me. Six months later I graduated. And I decided to launch my business and start to look for clients.
I decided to call my business 50+ fitness, and at the age of 66, I felt I was more than qualified to work with this demographic. In the past five years my business has grown in ways I never anticipated. In addition to my personal training clients, I teach two fitness classes each week at a seniors’ centre. But the most interesting part of this neophyte personal training business is that three years ago I was asked to create and present ‘Muscles Matter’, a workshop addressing the benefits of resistance training for older adults. It has been incredibly popular, as right now, fitness for baby boomers is on everyone’s radar screen. The result is I spend a fair amount of time presenting ‘Muscles Matter to corporations, retiree clubs, women’s and seniors groups in Southern Ontario. In developing the workshop, I realized it would be an positive feature to demonstrate various exercises using a resistance band.
Invariably, audience members would ask me where they could buy resistance bands, and by the way, how could they possibly remember the exercises I had shown them, In response to this, I decided to publish an exercise book. I launched ‘Personal Trainer to Go’ (check it out on my website – http://www.50plus-fitness.ca/) in the summer of 2010 and it has been a real success! I can hardly believe at age 71, I am having such an amazing time with this unexpected reinvention of me.
So ….. when people ask me – ‘what do you think you’ll be doing in five years?’ I’d like to think I can continue with this stimulating work, which I so thoroughly enjoy – and provided my body holds out, I don’t see why not!