FIT AND FAB FOR­EVER – age is no bar­rier to fit­ness

Gym ses­sions, marathons, ocean swims and box­ing – Sa­man­tha Trenoweth and Ni­cola Rus­sell meet four women who prove you are never too old to be fit.

Australian Women’s Weekly NZ - - EDITOR'S LETTER -

Carol Armer

AGE 75 Grand­mother, gym mem­ber Seventy-five-year-old Carol Armer says go­ing to the gym every day is as much a part of her rou­tine as brush­ing her teeth. Dur­ing her work­ing life, the for­mer per­sonal as­sis­tant went to the gym daily at 5am. Since her re­tire­ment in 2013 she moved that to 8:30am. Some habits die hard though – she con­tin­ues to rise at 4am every morn­ing. She and her 83-year-old hus­band Owen have nine chil­dren be­tween them (she has three, he has six), 10 grand­chil­dren and four great-grand­chil­dren. Owen, a for­mer po­lice­man, has Parkin­son’s dis­ease and the trip to the gym each morn­ing has be­come an es­sen­tial part of their rou­tine. “While I am at the gym, he does 30 steps in the Al­bert Street carpark. Then he waits for me and we go out and have a cof­fee on the way home – it’s some­thing we re­ally look for­ward to to­gether.” On the day of Carol’s in­ter­view with The Aus­tralian Women’s Weekly the cou­ple were plan­ning on re­plac­ing that cof­fee with a glass of Cham­pagne to cel­e­brate her pho­to­shoot. Carol de­scribes her work­outs as her “well­be­ing tablet for the day”. She says she’d much rather ex­er­cise than take madicine. “I do this, be­cause no mat­ter how I feel, I am go­ing to feel bet­ter af­ter­wards.” Phys­i­cally, her health is ex­cel­lent. “I have never ever had a cold. Touch wood my knee re­place­ment is the only thing I have been in hos­pi­tal for.” She is well known by name at Les Mills in cen­tral Auck­land where she does BODYPUMP four times a week, a class which fo­cuses on high rep­e­ti­tion move­ments with weights. “I did the first pump class ever in New Zealand with Mike McSweeney [in the late 1990s].” And while some of the mem­bers of her BODYPUMP class may be more than five decades her ju­nior, Carol could teach them a thing or two. “I watch some of their form and I think, ‘You need to put your legs to­gether.’ I re­ally want to tell them but I can’t,” she says, for fear of caus­ing of­fence. Af­ter a knee re­place­ment in 2015 Carol now sup­ple­ments BODYPUMP classes with cross­fit train­ing, cy­cling and row­ing, in place of the cir­cuit train­ing and body at­tack she used to do. There’s lit­tle that can keep her away from the gym – she was back two days af­ter her knee surgery, where she sat on a chair and did weights. “I re­ally had to do some­thing – I didn’t want to just sit there – and within two weeks I was back do­ing pump. If you re­ally try, you can do it. It’s like get­ting old – I am not go­ing to.”

Cherie Pavitt

AGE 71 Grand­mother, boxer “I be­gan box­ing train­ing four years ago be­cause I’d had an in­truder. I thought box­ing might be a self-de­fence tool to make me feel less vul­ner­a­ble. “There were other rea­sons, too. I had be­gun look­ing af­ter my grand­chil­dren and some of my friends’ grand­chil­dren, so I was lift­ing chil­dren in and out of the car a lot, and I needed to get stronger. I also wanted to im­prove my over­all fit­ness, flex­i­bil­ity and bal­ance, and re­duce those risks that are as­so­ci­ated with get­ting older: car­dio­vas­cu­lar in­ci­dents, falls, hip and knee re­place­ments. “I en­joy this train­ing. You have to con­cen­trate to learn new drills and fo­cus on the se­quences, so it’s good for both body and brain. It’s also quite a nice stress re­liever be­cause you’re punch­ing pads or a bag and get­ting rid of all that ag­gres­sion. Box­ing makes you move around, so it’s car­dio­vas­cu­lar and it’s been nice to learn how to jab and hook. I’m pretty tough, by the way. “My aim now is to slow down the age­ing process and re­main as in­de­pen­dent as I can, and I’m achiev­ing those things. I think I’m quite strong, pretty toned and ag­ile, and my flex­i­bil­ity is good. Com­pared with many peo­ple my age, I’m do­ing well and I’m happy.” A note from Cherie’s trainer, Mis­cha Merz, in Footscray, Vic­to­ria: “Cherie trains twice a week for an hour each ses­sion. When she first started train­ing, skip­ping was her warm-up. Now, it’s the ex­er­cise bike. Then she works out with the punch­ing pads. Box­ing train­ing is great for strength, agility, bal­ance, con­di­tion­ing, core strength, and co-or­di­na­tion, and it’s a men­tal work­out. Cherie has a great work ethic and trains con­sis­tently, which is im­por­tant. She’s more fit than many peo­ple half her age – she’s an in­spi­ra­tion.”

Annabelle Chap­man

AGE 59 Ar­chi­tect, mother, iron­woman “I swim in a squad at Bondi Ice­bergs [New South Wales] three times a week at 6am. I like swim­ming with a group be­cause I know that, even in the dark in the mid­dle of win­ter, there will be a whole lot of mad peo­ple like me at the pool when I get there. Af­ter­wards, we all have cof­fee – we stand by the pool at sun­rise and say, ‘How good is this?’ “Once a week, I meet a group of women to ride long­boards at Bondi and each Sun­day at 8am I do surf-ski train­ing at Palm Beach in Sydney’s north. Af­ter­wards, there are races: board, swim, ski, run, flags. “And once a month, on a Fri­day, I drive up to Palm Beach to be there at 6.30am for an hour and a half of ins and outs: pad­dling, swim­ming, run­ning up and down sand­hills. “I also train and com­pete in car­ni­vals with a group of women. We’ve been to­gether for 10 years and, in the past six, we’ve come back from al­most every car­ni­val with gold medals. I’m the cur­rent Aus­tralian Masters Iron­woman and dou­ble ski cham­pion in my age group. “We’ve com­peted in mas­sive, some­times dan­ger­ous surfs. You need to be fit, strong and a bit fear­less. I al­ways had some courage, but over the years, I’ve de­vel­oped a lot more skill. I feel pretty con­fi­dent now that I have the skill to deal with most things. “I love be­ing in the wa­ter and I love be­ing part of the surf club at Palm Beach. There are peo­ple from 18 to 80 swim­ming to­gether – it’s a great com­mu­nity. I swim and com­pete with peo­ple who are much older than me. “My feel­ing is that, if you keep do­ing this every day, your body gets used to it. It’s in­vig­o­rat­ing and keeps me young.”

Laima Wayne

AGE 65 Night nurse, grand­mother, marathon run­ner “I started run­ning at 48 and ran my first marathon that same year. When I started, I thought my lungs would burst, but I per­se­vered. “I found a lo­cal run­ning group. They ran through the bush, which I loved, and it be­came very ad­dic­tive. We would run for a cou­ple of hours and then sit down in the bush with a Ther­mos of cof­fee and chat. “In my 50s, I started do­ing 100km runs. My friends said I was fa­nat­i­cal. My favourite was the Ox­fam Trail­walker, which raised money for char­ity. I did sev­eral of those with a women’s run­ning group. Then we did a 45km moun­tain race. I got stronger and stronger, and there was this sense of ad­ven­ture, which I loved. Run­ning with the girls, there was also so­cial in­ter­ac­tion and all these lovely chal­lenges. “As I ap­proached my 60s, friends started ask­ing why I was still do­ing this and I said, ‘Why not?’ I feel that a strong body gives me a strong mind. Run­ning gives me a sense of free­dom and a lot of en­ergy. I sleep well, my body func­tions well, my blood tests are all nor­mal, my blood pres­sure is nor­mal and it gives me a very pos­i­tive at­ti­tude. “I’m mind­ful of the risk of in­jury as I get older. I do change my shoes of­ten and I don’t run long dis­tances on pave­ment. My longer runs are al­ways in the bush. I also mix up my ex­er­cise a bit. I do yoga stretches and box­ing, ride my bike, swim in the ocean and have reg­u­lar mas­sages to iron out the tight mus­cles that even the stretches don’t get to. I also watch what I eat and drink – an ac­tive body needs a nour­ish­ing diet.”

“Run­ning gives me a sense of free­dom and a lot of en­ergy.”

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