My major thrust is to encourage people to continue to go forward in life and not be bound by age, stereotypical thinking or the expectations of others. Too many people waste precious years succumbing to the dictates of restrictive stereotypes and the expectations of others. I aim to break the restrictive older female stereotype and show what is possible and help give other older females permission to go forward and be all they can be.
One of my male friends at my gym, aged 83, became conscious of a shortness of breath just before Xmas. He thought it was just stress as he was going through a rough time. However he was encouraged by gym members to go to the doctor and see about it. In short, he was found to have dire heart problems. Subsequent tests revealed that he had 100% of one artery to the heart blocked and 80% of another one blocked and so urgent surgery was required. On January 11, 2016 he had heart surgery and was told he’ be in ICU for three or four days. I rang the hospital on Wednesday 13th January to find out how he was. “Oh he’s in the cardio ward,” said the hospital telephonist. “I’ll put you through.”
A male nurse answered. “I’m ringing to find out how my friend is,” I said. “Oh he’s doing marvellously.” He sounded amazed. “He’s even been for a walk this morning. Do you want to speak to him?” “I’d love to,” I answered.
“Hello Love,” my friend said. “How are you?” I asked. “I’m absolutely fine I’ve been for a walk this morning.” “I know,” I said. “The nurse seemed amazed.”
“You know,” he said, “They had to take arteries out of my neck and legs for my heart.” “That’s amazing,” I said and then with an enormous burst of enthusiasm he said, “And the doctor said I can have sex anytime I want!” “Then perhaps I should warn any would be female visitors.” I said
It makes my heart sing to hear that so many ladies 50+ and 60+ are now engaging in Weight Resistance Training (WRT). WRT is a fantastic vehicle to increase bone density, as well as to increase our overall strength and realise a great body shape. Engaging in regular WRT can give an incredible inner vibrancy. It increases our energy level and makes us feel attractive, energetic, desirable and happy with ourselves.
Many older women in the past have suffered psychologically from put downs like, ‘Old Chook, Old Duck, Old Boiler’ and jokes about ‘The Old Girl.’ I remember a cartoon I saw in 1987 which made me very upset at the time. In the cartoon in question, the setting was a swimming pool scene with young beautiful girls walking around the swimming pool in bikinis. There were also two men standing around the edge of the pool, each with a can of beer in their hands, and each with excessively large stomachs overlapping their swimmers. These men looked comfortable and confident and were ogling at the young girls. However what impacted on me was that in this cartoon there was also an older woman who was wearing a one-piece costume and standing in the swimming pool with water up to her neck, looking very uncomfortable with her arms folded around her as if she was trying to hide her body. At the time I thought, “How unfair it seemed that the older woman felt that she had to hide her body whereas, the grossly overweight older males felt comfortable to let their grossly out of shape bodies to be on show.
Now that we ladies are training and getting our bodies into great shape, even at 70+, those days of hiding our older female bodies are fading into the distant past.
At the gym the other day a 73 year old man who attends the gym three times a week, mentioned to me that he was shocked by something that happened to him a few days ago when he climbed up a ladder to fix his roof. He went up and down the ladder once but needed to go up again. When he descended the second time one of his legs lost all power and he became stuck. “I must be getting old,” he said. “Do you do any machines to strengthen your legs?” I asked. “No,” he said, so I immediately introduced him to a number of leg press machines. Failure to strengthen the legs is a common story even with seasoned bodybuilders. At bodybuilding championships I’ve seen many male bodybuilders with great upper bodies perched on, what I call celery legs. I don’t think anyone enjoys the leg press. I certainly don’t. In fact it’s the one machine I dread the most. I have a sort of love/hate relationship with the leg press because, although it’s hard work, I value greatly what it does for my leg strength. The message is if you don’t work on strengthening your legs they will surely let you down.
The concept of bodybuilding has become quite diverse since I began competing in 1999. In natural bodybuilding championships these days, there are a number of female divisions which are Bodybuilding, Physique, Bikini Divas, Bikini Mamas, Bathing Suit Beauties, Sports Model and Ms Figure (Two Piece), Ms Figure Classic (One Piece). In my view the only two divisions which fit into my idea of bodybuilding are the bodybuilding and physique divisions. Of these two I compete in natural bodybuilding rather than physique because, for me it’s the real thing. In the physique division, competitors wear enormously high heeled shoes. Because of this some of one’s presentation is dependent upon how well one can perform on stilts, not how well developed and tailored one’s muscles are. The physique division was created to provide a more level playing field for smaller and more slender competitors. Well you say; how come you compete in the bodybuilding division when you are so small and slight? My answer to this is that I consider the bodybuilding division to be the genuine article, because with the bodybuilding division one is on stage with only body and bikini. If women are to be taken seriously in natural bodybuilding, I believe that they should be judged similar to male bodybuilders in terms of the muscle size, muscle definition and symmetry they have achieved, with no extra adornments like high heeled shoes.
In my opinion, the glamour focus of the various female divisions, detract from the essence of strength, vitality and excitement about life and self. Adornments take away from what I’m endeavouring to do, which is to promote health, strength and feeling good about self. It’s a great feeling to be able to feel confident wearing the clothes you want to wear and know that you’ve really achieved something without adornments to rely on.
I like the natural approach and so I don’t take protein powder. It’s not natural for people to swallow protein powder. I want to show that one can get good results with ordinary healthy food, exercise and dedication that you can have the body you want and live the life you want to live and have the energy you need to pursue your dreams for as long you live. I’m out to prove this. I’m 72 years old now and on my way. There’s nothing more exciting for me than, at age 72, to be able to wear the clothes I want to wear and feel good in them, and to be able to dance and have fun and join in activities. When I look around at people in my age group who don’t exercise I’m sure that if I didn’t exercise and eat good food my life and choices would be severely limited. You don’t need adornments to feel good and excited about life and yourself, you can feel great just as you are.
I’m back, and it’s all over and I have another gold medal to add to my collection but what an experience! There were over 400 competitors and would you believe, the computer crashed which created utter chaos but we managed somehow. Because of the huge number of competitors posing routines were cancelled. All that practising for nothing! The venue was a huge sports centre with an indoor soccer pitch and a great gym. It was a very different experience competing in such a venue. Another little aside was that every competitor had to be drug tested both with blood and urine. Oh what a joy! It’s none too easy giving a urine sample with someone waiting right outside the toilet door. Anyway the Championships were super exciting, with all sorts of compliments and adrenaline rushes. Perhaps the greatest adrenaline rush was being interview by Swiss Public Television. What buzz and I’ve been promised a DVD of it too! The attached photos are after judging and before results and the Australian Team.
Well two weeks tomorrow is the big day for the INBA Pro-Am World Championships in Dubai! I’m pretty happy with my results so far but I’ll be glad when next Friday comes and I can modify my preparation intensity. Regardless of how I go I am satisfied with my effort. I’ve done everything I can. I’ve entered the over 50’ and over 60’s and I’ve tried to enter an over 70’s division as I did in Greece in 2013 but although the over 70’s is offered for male bodybuilding, it is not, at the moment, being offered for female bodybuilders. I feel that it’s important for a sport, particularly for one that is so focussed on health, strength and fitness (including diet) that pathways not to be blocked, particularly when, most likely, today’s 70 year old will be tomorrow’s 50 year old in terms of health, fitness and strength. Entries close on May 31 and at the moment there is one male competitor entered in the over 7o’s male bodybuilding.
It’s now countdown time for the INBA Pro-Am World Championships in Dubai and I’m tired, excited and apprehensive all at once. Training, including posing and routine practice is taking up a great deal of my time. There is however something I’d like to report and that is, that lately I’ve noticed a change with some young people at my gym. Those around 20-25, have been taking an interest in my training etc. In fact, quite a few of these young people have asked me all the details of what I’m doing and how I got started. Maybe it’s because they can see a more positive stronger image for their future than the aged stereotype would have us believe.
At the other end of the spectrum, a lady around 50 approached me last Friday and told me she was so excited about what I was doing because she could see that she could be strong and fit in her older age. She went on to tell me about her sister who was about the same age as her, and that her sister’s bones were now crumbling such that she had become very weak, in fact incapacitated. She said that she told her sister about weight resistant training (WRT) but her sister was not the slightest bit interested in WRT or in going to a gym because she had a poor opinion of gyms and of those who attended them. It always surprises me that some people think this way about gyms. In fact I’ve met quite a few. On the up side the lady in question seemed excited about her gym adventure and her new vision of her older age. She certainly saw WRT it as vital for a strong, healthy and vibrant future.