THE BLOG

Gym Fear at 60: It Can Be Conquered

05/27/2015 01:14 pm ET | Updated May 27, 2016
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While looking over the sweat and determination, I had to smile. Just two years back, I was so afraid of this place. It completely represented a struggle I avoided for years and did not know if I could tackle as I turned 60. Watching the gym activity from my treadmill suddenly flooded me with a sense of accomplishment.

I do not recommend anyone wait until 60 to begin an active exercise routine, but if you are in this age range and want to finally begin, it is possible to succeed. I was raised during a time when most women were not encouraged to be athletic. We really did gather in gym class and chant:

We must, we must,
We must increase our bust...
The bigger, the better, the tighter the sweater
We must increase our bust!

My best friend in high school tripped on my gym shoe while running in place (I still do not remember why my shoe wasn't on my foot) and broke her foot. That was traumatizing enough for me to stay away from serious activity. But, during the parenting years I watched my mother deteriorate from inactivity, and I began to blossom around the hips! Doctors always sang the same song... eat less sugars and fats, and you MUST exercise... at least if you desire to live longer and be productive. I drove often to the gym, would watch the fit and gorgeous go inside, and I would eventually drive away. When I was finally diagnosed with osteoporosis, my doctor showed me pictures of the consequences if I continued to do nothing. That was at the end of year 59.

Two weeks later, BZ came into my life. He has been my strength trainer for the last two years and survived the first day with me when I proudly told him, "I don't do sit-ups, push-ups, or pull-ups." To his credit, I now do all of those... not well... but nevertheless, I do them. That first day ended with me face down in the floor, telling him there was no way I could push up... it wasn't going to happen. BZ slapped the floor by my head and said, "What are you going to do, Pam? What are you going to do if you fall and can't get up? You need to be able to push up and get up on your own." His patience, gentle prodding, and a group of ladies all around the same ages at the YMCA, have kept me in this place I avoided for years... plus the revelation that day, I needed to be able to get up... falling was a reality.

A sense of humor is necessary to face the challenges of working out at an older age... I must stretch before workout or my hips shut down... I must wear protection or sit-ups are embarrassing... I must be willing to push harder... it never gets easy. But, I am amazed at the difference in my body, how I feel, and the items I easily lift and carry which once required grocery assistance to get them to the car. After 60, you can do it as well. For anyone like me, who made the bad decision to wait well into life, do not waste another day. Drive to the gym and this time, go inside.