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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Fitness at Any Age

Believe it or not, it is never too early or too late to get fit. Physical activity is critical for long-term health. It can help ward off many chronic illnesses, increase longevity and improve quality of life.

I began working out on a regular basis when I was 14. Turned off of team sports due to the competitiveness of the girls at my school, I began doing aerobics classes after school. Before leaving for university I was certified as a fitness instructor and I have been teaching and working out daily ever since.

My goal is to be active for as long as I can. I am inspired by many of the people I have trained over the years. Take, for example, Yvonne (who shares my hair stylist). She is a mother of 4 and grandmother of 7 or 8 who is now in her mid 70s. For the past 40+ years, she has been working out every day, usually doing a triathalon worth of activity (i.e. a run, a swim and a spin class). Now this extremely high level of time and intensity is not necessary for health benefits, however, I have to tell you, in the 14 years she's been coming to my classes, I have rarely ever seen her sick or injured!

Research studies have found that even previously sedentary seniors can benefit significantly from beginning all types of exercise programs - cardio, strength and flexibility. In addition, the most recent research has also demonstrated that strength training is safe and beneficial even for prepubescent children. I love the idea of getting my girls into strength training early on. I think the focus on being strong sends a positive message and could have a positive impact on body image and self-esteem.

Yesterday's boot camp class rocked. When I arrived at the club and walked into the fitness studio, I initially got the stink-eye from some of the gorgeous 20-something regulars: "Oh, Mandy is away...who are you?" Not an unusual response to an unknown sub instructor. Given that I am used to teaching people in the age 30-70+ range at the JCC, I figured I better kick some butt. Heck, even the Brazilian Butt Lift crowd at the Toronto Athletic Club were all pretty much my age or older.

Well, well, well. Ironically, my mind went completely blank at the beginning of the class trying to think of moves from my fitness DVDs, so I ended up completely winging it. And you know what? Their butts were kicked! After the class many of them came up and told me how hard the class was. One beautiful 20-something woman told me it was the hardest class she had EVER done and she said she works out 5+ days a week. They all wanted to know when and where I teach and one suggested I start teaching a boot camp class on Thursdays at this club. As fun as it was, I hate the idea of committing to another fitness class for the long-term. Nope. I much prefer being able to teach when I feel like it.

Yeah baby, I still got it and I'm almost 37! Nevermind that I felt like taking a nap at 3pm yesterday.

In any case, no matter how old you are, get moving. You've got nothing to lose and everything to gain!

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