Candace Karu found a fitness mentor and now she’s mentoring all of us.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – sisterhood is powerful. The very fact that Midlife Boulevard exists is due in large part to the fact that smart, generous women are willing – no, eager – to share their hard-won wisdom acquired in 50-plus years of living.
As we age, it is even more important that we help each other through the subtle, and not-so-subtle, effects the years have on our bodies. Getting fit and staying fit can be easier, more effective and a lot more fun if we can share what we know and what we’ve learned with others.
I spent my 20s and half of my 30s consumed with my career and then with my young children. As a working mother, I rarely found the time to exercise, until one day a colleague, a woman in her 50s, warned me of the dangers of a sedentary life and the joys of her favorite pastime – running. I blissfully ignored her admonitions until one weekend day, overwhelmed by work I had brought home, laundry, toilet cleaning duties, and demanding children, I snapped.
Athletes are made, not born.
Though it was mid-winter, I handed the kids off to my husband, layered on sweats and an old pair of sneakers and set out for a “run.” The effort it took to propel my doughy, decidedly unfit body around the block was staggering. My awkward attempt at running left me rubbery-legged and gasping for air. But it also left me oddly exhilarated. The concept of a half-hour alone in the fresh air, my thoughts to myself, was alien and thrilling. I was hooked.
My colleague quickly became my mentor and workout buddy. We ran together on weekends, slowly at first, but by spring I had gotten faster and was covering longer distances. She helped me train for my first 10K. While we were running, she would pepper me with nuggets of wisdom and advice she had acquired in her running career, things like: even if you think you don’t have to, go to the bathroom before every run; rub a little Vaseline between your thighs before a long run to prevent “chub rub;” eat sparingly, if at all before you head out the door; don’t scrimp on shoes, buy the best you can. Her wisdom made my running life easier and infinitely more enjoyable.
Depending on your friends, and the kindness of strangers.
Sharing what you know, helping someone through a rough patch, is like bestowing grace. Your attention and willingness to give of your own hard-won experience can start a friend down a new, life-changing path. This is especially true of exercise, a habit that is often difficult to develop, especially in the absence of supportive friends. But once gained, the habit of fitness is transformative.
If you want to get fit, if you want to start down the road to a healthier life, find a friend who can help you. Identify those women whose exercise regimens you admire. For many of us “I want to look like her” can be a real motivator. Most women are happy to share what they know, and people who embody our goals, and the work they undertook to meet them, can be an on-going source of inspiration.
Paying fitness forward
If you have already enthusiastically embraced a fitness routine that is working for you, be a mentor. Take a newbie under your wing and help her discover the joys of a life of fitness.
Women sharing the wisdom of fitness, it’s a beautiful thing.