STRONG AT SIXTY

Lynda Jager hopes to in­spire oth­ers with her phys­i­cal fit­ness

Grand Magazine - - CONTENTS - BY LYNN HADDRALL PHO­TOG­RA­PHY BY ALISHA TOWNSEND

Lynda Jager hopes to in­spire oth­ers with her phys­i­cal fit­ness

Lynda Jager could play the role of an Ama­zon war­rior. Watch­ing “Won­der Wo­man” on film, she was drawn to the char­ac­ters of the mother and aunt, older women show­ing men­tal and phys­i­cal strength.

“They were pow­er­ful and mus­cu­lar, and both were women that I could re­late to,” says the com­pet­i­tive body­builder and per­sonal trainer.

Jager turns 60 on Aug. 12 and ea­gerly looks for­ward to the years ahead. She does not in­tend to slow down as she tran­si­tions to new ca­reer op­por­tu­ni­ties such as mod­el­ling and tele­vi­sion work.

“Cel­e­brat­ing? Ab­so­lutely, be­cause we know if we’re not get­ting older, the al­ter­nate is worse, right? I’ve reached the age now where I know that my fit­ness and my physique is unique. I’m dif­fer­ent,” says Jager.

The wo­man with the well-sculpted body is ac­cus­tomed to some peo­ple find­ing her phys­i­cal strength odd. It used to make her self-con­scious. Now she em­braces it.

“I’m 60 years old. Why am I not giv­ing this mes­sage to other peo­ple? I’m hop­ing I’m an in­spi­ra­tion for peo­ple rather than some­one that they look at as an odd­ity. I would rather be some­one who in­spires peo­ple.”

Jager didn’t al­ways have the same con­fi­dence. She started out as a “closet ex­er­ciser” who be­came in­ter­ested in fit­ness at 20. It took years be­fore she had the con­fi­dence to com­pete on stage.

“I was bodybuilding even be­fore it was thought nor­mal for women. Al­most 40 years ago, it was thought very odd or weird that women would want to build mus­cle. I used to get com­ments like ‘Why do you want to look like a man?’ At that time, be­ing young and self-con­scious, I would hide every­thing, hide my mus­cles.”

Early on, Jager was in­spired by fit­ness trail­blaz­ers such as Cory Ever­son, Char­lene Prick­ett, and women on the “20 Minute Work­out” tele­vi­sion show. She watched them or read their fit­ness rou­tines in mag­a­zines. She worked out in her par­ents’ Cam­bridge base­ment.

Even­tu­ally she ven­tured into a gym where it was mostly men lift­ing weights. As her mus­cles and con­fi­dence grew, she felt strong and en­er­gized. And she fi­nally worked up the nerve to com­pete for the first time.

“For years I had peo­ple say­ing, ‘Why don’t you get on stage? Get out there and show them what you’ve got.’ I was al­ways very re­luc­tant to do that. I think part of that was be­cause I had a ma­jor pho­bia of stage fright. I just couldn’t stand up in front of a group of peo­ple like that. I was very afraid of that type of thing.”

Jager fig­ured if she could con­quer that fear, she could do any­thing. She was 51 when she com­peted for the first time in a com­pe­ti­tion in Strat­ford. It was scary and she froze mo­men­tar­ily.

“I was just stuck, I was a statue. But I did it and af­ter I did it, it sky­rock­eted and I kept go­ing. I think I won the com­pe­ti­tion too, in my cat­e­gory.”

Be­ing on stage means put­ting your­self in the spot­light. Judges are look­ing for spe­cific stan­dards. The scru­tiny is in­tense.

“It’s scary and it’s a lit­tle bit de­mean­ing some­times. You do feel a lit­tle bit like that, but af­ter a while you get so that you want to im­prove, try a lit­tle bit harder and go out the next time try­ing to be a lit­tle bit rounder in the shoul­ders or just try­ing to make those im­prove­ments in your body, which is mo­ti­vat­ing in the gym as well.”

Jager’s com­pe­ti­tion re­sumé in­cludes five wins at the provin­cial level. At one point, she was ranked fifth in Canada and 12th in North Amer­ica in her age cat­e­gory – grand master, for ath­letes older than 45. She com­petes in the fig­ure divi­sion, re­quir­ing less mus­cle than the physique divi­sion. She’s proud that she has at­tained her phys­i­cal re­sults with hard work, good nutri­tion, and lots of sweat.

“I’ve never taken a steroid in my life; never will,” she says. “I don’t believe it would do my body any good, es­pe­cially at this age. I’ve never taken any­thing like that, but when I was com­pet­ing, you def­i­nitely would stand on stage be­side some­one who def­i­nitely had been tak­ing some­thing. You could tell (by the) dif­fer­ent char­ac­ter­is­tics they have.”

Jager is tran­si­tion­ing into mod­el­ling and tele­vi­sion work. You might rec­og­nize her from the fash­ion pages of the March-April edi­tion of Grand mag­a­zine, or from her work on The Shop­ping Chan­nel as a fit­ness model.

“I’m not sure if I’ll go back on stage (to com­pete) again or not. It’s hard to say. I think it de­pends a lot on where life takes me next. Maybe if I’m not re­ally do­ing any­thing and I get that urge to get back on stage, then maybe I will.”

Jager, who works full time as a med­i­cal of­fice as­sis­tant in Guelph, be­came a cer­ti­fied per­sonal trainer in 1999, work­ing with clients in their homes or in her own home gym. About five years ago, she con-

sidered get­ting into mod­el­ling but wasn’t sure how some­one like her could fit in.

“Some­times it is dif­fi­cult to find where I fit in the mod­el­ling world be­cause my body’s ap­pear­ance is not about to change any time soon. Fit­ness is part of my life, just like brush­ing my teeth or eat­ing din­ner. It is part of my rou­tine and there­fore it’s nor­mal to me, just like my physique and mus­cles are.”

She ap­proached Toronto mod­el­ling agen­cies but was turned away for be­ing too fit.

“It was a com­plete turnoff. I thought if I’m too fit I ob­vi­ously can’t be a model. I re­ally don’t want to change who I am to fit into some­body else’s ideal of what I should look like. I don’t want to lose weight, get skinny, just be­cause that’s the way they want me to look.”

Donna Sch­midt-Kirk saw po­ten­tial for Jager when they met af­ter a lo­cal fash­ion show in Cam­bridge. Sch­midt-Kirk owns Ex­pres­sions Model and Tal­ent Agency. It spe­cial­izes in “life­style” work, match­ing mod­els with clients look­ing for peo­ple of all ages and all sizes. She knew there was a niche for some­one like Jager. It was just a mat­ter of find­ing the right spot.

Sch­midt-Kirk rhymes off a list of com­pa­nies that Jager has worked with, from Germany, the United States and South Korea. She’s also work­ing as a fit­ness model for The Shop­ping Chan­nel. Jager says it is fun see­ing how things un­fold there be­hind the scenes. She loves that her physique is cel­e­brated when she demon­strates prod­ucts such as home gym equip­ment.

Sch­midt-Kirk sees even more op­por­tu­ni­ties for Jager in tele­vi­sion.

“I think be­ing a health model with The Shop­ping Chan­nel is amaz­ing, be­cause she’s got that smile that peo­ple love to look at and they just adore that. She’s got that warm­ness about her. She’s a good speaker. I would re­ally love to see her get­ting into some film.”

Jager’s main fit­ness fo­cus today is to live healthy and stay strong as she ages.

“The goal that I am striv­ing for at this point in my life is not step­ping on stage or to walk the run­way, but to be able to walk, run, ride my bike, carry my own gro­ceries, and feel good in my clothes. Be­ing able to do some mod­el­ling on top of all this is a bonus, like ic­ing on the cake. I find it fun and chal­leng­ing and I’m con­stantly be­ing put in new and dif­fer­ent sit­u­a­tions which I also believe is good for the brain.”

To main­tain her fit­ness and life­style, Jager has a strict sched­ule. She rises early, usu­ally at 4:30 a.m. A typ­i­cal day in­cludes her full-time job and at least one visit to the gym for car­dio and weight train­ing. She likes ply­o­met­ric and high-in­ten­sity in­ter­val train­ing. She finds ways to fit in mod­el­ling and tele­vi­sion jobs as well.

Jager re­al­izes her fit­ness sched­ule might sound ex­ces­sive, but she en­joys it and rarely misses a day. She be­lieves it’s bet­ter to “wear out rather than rust out.”

She’s al­ways look­ing for a new way to chal­lenge her mus­cles.

“I per­son­ally want to be able to hike Machu Pic­chu or tour New Zealand. I fully believe that keep­ing my body as fit as pos­si­ble will help me achieve it,” she says. “Just keep do­ing dif­fer­ent things. I’ve done rock climb­ing. I would love to try other chal­lenges. Gen­er­ally, we like to stay pretty ac­tive. We have our road bikes too.”

Jager, who has two chil­dren, mar­ried long­time part­ner Mark Sub­ject in June. It’s a sec­ond mar­riage for both of them. Sub­ject has three chil­dren and the cou­ple has five grand­chil­dren, with a sixth ex­pected in Septem­ber. “I am so ex­cited,” says Jager.

On her wed­ding day, Jager wore a sleeve­less form-fit­ting wed­ding dress with “just enough sparkle” to proudly show­case her mus­cles.

“I’m more for show­ing off my physique,” she says, flash­ing that big smile. “If peo­ple don’t like it, don’t look, right?”

The goal that I am striv­ing for at this point in my life is not step­ping on stage or to walk the run­way, but to be able to walk, run, ride my bike, clothes.” carry my own gro­ceries, and feel good in my

The cou­ple planned to hon­ey­moon in the Mediter­ranean on a 12-day cruise, an­other op­por­tu­nity to have fun while stay­ing ac­tive.

Her next big event is turn­ing 60 in Au­gust. Likely the cel­e­bra­tion will be a quiet din­ner with her hus­band. Jager doesn’t ex­pect to skip her work­out. She might treat her­self just a lit­tle, with dessert and a glass of wine.

Then it’s back to her healthy diet, daily ex­er­cise and a reg­u­lar rou­tine of try­ing new things.

TOP: Lynda Jager en­joys work­ing out with her hus­band, Mark Sub­ject. PHOTO BY RUDY ROBIN­SON

ABOVE: Lynda Jager over­came her ini­tial stage fright to com­pete and win ti­tles in the fig­ure cat­e­gory of bodybuilding com­pe­ti­tions. PHOTO BY SI­MON LAU

Along with hit­ting the gym on a reg­u­lar ba­sis, Lynda Jager makes good use of equip­ment she has at home.

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