March of 2013 at age 58 ½, I found myself dealing with problems of early aging – like getting off the floor, out of a chair, difficulty climbing stairs and loss of balance – all despite what I thought was “being active” with a busy career, family, grandchildren and regular walking and light activity. High-risk family genetics with high blood pressure since my thirties and transient ischemic attacks were precursors for early stroke and/or heart attack. My diet was fairly healthy and I was only about 15 lbs. overweight – skinny fat. It was time to make a change, but I had no gym experience and had not run a mile since in my 20s. I could no longer run 200 meters without gasping. At age 50 I had a two-level cervical fusion and thought I had limits plus I had no idea what to do.Determined to change, I found myself walking into a CrossFit gym and asking if someone like me could fit in. I was assured that it could happen. There was a 5:30 a.m. class that did not interfere with my family or work life so I gave it a month to see what happened. I was determined to improve my health and stamina.
The wonderful thing about CrossFit is that, contrary to popular belief; it’s really not just for young fit people lifting heavy weights. Everything is scalable – everything – and I was scaled tremendously. Since I couldn’t get up from a squat, I was placed near a large tire near the rig so I could squat landing on the tire and use the rig to help me up – over and over again. Couldn’t do a sit-up so there was a band attached to the rig to help me come up. Pushup? No way. Just did what I could. Burpees? What in the heck was that!? I’d lie on the ground and crawl up. The PVC pipe or training bar was my barbell for months as I learned lifting techniques. Trying to jump rope was almost hilarious, but little by little I got better. The first time I did 20 jumps without missing was a big deal! Weekly and monthly I progressed. Running was difficult. I just couldn’t get the breathing rhythm down. It was WAY out of my comfort zone.
Soon it will be four years since I started this wonderful adventure. Coach Grant McHaney, owner and trainer at Fitness Heroics/CrossFit Epically Awesome, has been my trainer/coach for three years now and he allowed me no excuses for my age. He safely and skillfully pushed me beyond limits I thought possible. Within two months of becoming my primary coach, he had me running three miles. That air squat I couldn’t do has evolved to a back squat of 140 lbs., OHS of 80 lbs., and squat clean of 90 lbs. Assisted sit-ups became regular sit-ups to strict sit-ups when required. Strict push-ups are challenging, but I can do them! Those Burpees? Got them down! Love that they keep me getting up and down off the floor! I have done 200+ single jumps unbroken. I go to CF every day and love to lift and, despite getting older, I’m getting stronger. I love the feeling of strength, agility and mobility.
In late 2014, I entered a Garage Games competition for scaled 60+. This gave me confidence and, along with the encouragement of my coach, I participated in the 2015 CF Open scaled 60+ and loved it, repeating 15.3 and 15.5 for better scores. More local competitions along the way and then the 2016 CF Open was especially exciting. I repeated 16.1, 16.4 and 16.5 for better scores – still 60+ scaled – but stronger and better. More local competitions throughout this past year and now I’m super excited about the 2017 Open! Can’t wait! I love the challenge and excitement and setting goals! It’s so fun to see scores on a National Leaderboard for my division.
Now at age 62, I am stronger and more fit than I’ve ever been and, as my coach tells me, more fit than the average 20-30-year-old. I feel great and have regained my balance. The passion for fitness consumes me. With eleven grandchildren and a busy career, I am enjoying aging gracefully…
THANK YOU FOR SHARING YOUR STORY JANET! YOU’RE A TRUE INSPIRATION AND YOUR WORDS CAN CHANGE LIVES AND INSPIRE OTHERS.