Kickin' Ass Over 50: Starting A New Exercise Program

I was never one for sports. Even in high school when I should have liked it, I didn't see the value of exercise. I was one of the girls who was just too cool to do what the gym teacher wanted.

I started running in my 30s to help keep off the weight. But even though I ran half marathons, I didn't really think of myself as an athlete. Something inside me would cringe when I called myself a runner. I'd stumble over the words and say it in an apologetic way -- "Yeah, I don't look like it but I run a bit."

But, in spite of the running I do, I could see my strength dwindling over the years. And, I was tired all the time. By my late 50s, I didn't "bounce back" when I got sick and it took a long time for injuries to heal. Suddenly, I had my mother's arms. Now, she was a beautiful woman, but I don't need 76-year-old arms.

I knew I needed something new, and I knew I didn't like going it on my own. Running is actually a very lonely sport, so I wanted to try something different and fun. My daughter mentioned something she loved, so I decided to try an exercise program called Kia Fit.

Although I'm not typically a joiner, this sounded fun. Kia Fit is a functional intense training class for women only. Every morning at 5 a.m. there was a class of fabulous, friendly instructors -- all I had to do was to show up and make it through the series of exercises they had planned for that day. Mine was in beautiful Petaluma, California, but I believe there are many locations.

Feeling like Miss Smarty-pants, I thought I would do pretty well. I mean, I'm a runner, aren't I? Well, halfway through first class I was nauseous and shaky. Nothing in my 13-mile half-marathons prepared me for that first hour in this class. We were jumping rope, running sprints, crunches, pushups... OMG, I couldn't keep up!

And, it doesn't get easier. Apparently, the exercises changing each day keeps your body working hard in every class. I realized that my running routine was barely challenging me any longer. My body had grown accustomed to the running routine and was "phoning it in."

And, here I am five or six weeks later in Kia Fit and I'm feeling great. The change for me has been amazing. I feel stronger and have more endurance. I've also found that I have a competitive streak that I never knew I had. Not such a bad thing to know about yourself!

So, don't let age get in the way! Start something new and get out there. Whatever you try, here are some things to keep in mind:

Be Safe: As always, be sure to check with your doctor as to what the right program is for you.

Be Challenged: Be prepared for a few first workouts to be tough but stick with it.

Have fun!: Find something that works for you. There are many programs out there. This is only one.

I may not be able to say that I look better at 58 than I did in high school -- who can? But I know I feel better, have more energy and appreciate life more. And, that's what kickin' ass at 58 is all about!

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Earlier on Huff/Post50:

8 Exercises to Reduce the Effects of Aging