olderladyyoga_645

We all know someone in our life who inspires us in one way or another. The reasons they inspire us often vary. We can find inspiration from a mom who takes care of a severely sick child or how a loved one overcame tragedy in her life. Sometimes we are inspired to take on new challenges after seeing others doing it quite successfully. Whatever the reason may be, we look at these people and realize that anything can be done if we put our minds to it.

So when it comes to healthy living, who inspires you? Is it the latest magazine cover model or the athlete who just deadlifted nearly three hundred pounds? I found my inspiration in someone I never expected and she is a big reason why I continue to challenge my fitness level and be active—and why I will never stop. To some women, getting older means slowing down or not being able to do activities they once loved and enjoyed. While I cannot imagine ever living a sedentary life, I wonder if the same thing will eventually happen to me. Then I met a woman in her seventies who is active nearly every day of her life and does not let her age stop her.

I see many older women who attend classes or engage in exercises that are slower paced and/or low impact. Their days of kickboxing and step classes are filled now with yoga and Pilates. I love the fact that these women continue to stay active even if they find it difficult to do some of the more challenging work. But then there is one woman who refuses to let her age be the determinant of her activity level. She is right alongside the twenty, thirty and forty-something women punching their way through a turbo kickboxing class, doing burpees in a CrossFit-inspired class or pumping out as many push-ups as they can handle in boot camp. Where many in class may look to me to keep them motivated, I look to this particular woman. She is my motivation to keep going.

When people discover how old she is, their eyes instantly pop out of their head. The first words out of their mouths are “good for her” or “she is awesome”. They are absolutely right. She is awesome—in so many ways—and she does not let age be a factor in her fitness.

I am sure we all know someone like this who laughs in the face of those who think age defines who you are or what you are supposed to be doing. Sure, she cannot jump as fast as the twenty year-olds (neither can I for that matter) or lift as heavy a weight as some of us, but that is not why she does it. Her goals are different. She wants to stay active and do as much as she physically can. She wants the blood, sweat and tears. She wants to see how much she is capable of doing– she wants the challenge.

She probably does not realize how in awe all of us are with her and her great attitude and even greater energy. I hope at her age I am still doing burpees, mountain climbers, push-ups and everything else she does. When people tell me they cannot take a class because it is too difficult, the first thing I tell them is that I have a woman in her seventies who takes my class and that usually silences them or at least gives them reason to pause and rethink their decision.

Remember…when it comes to inspiration, it doesn’t have to come from someone who is rich or famous. Real inspiration comes from real people who do unreal and extraordinary things despite what society or the rest of the world thinks they should be doing. They conquer obstacles, overcome odds and even break some societal expectations.

When it comes to fitness, or anything else in life, do not let age be your decider. After all, most of us are probably in much better shape now as moms than we ever were prior to giving birth. That says something right there. When it comes to leading a healthy lifestyle, there is no age cap. I am reminded of that each and every week thanks to my dear friend. And when I am in class and those last few reps of push presses feel like torture, I look at her and get the motivation I need to finish them. She may thank me for a great class after the hour, but inside I am thanking her a whole lot more.