We Are Trailblazers!
by Christine Drews
On a scale of 1 to 10 in terms of activities I enjoy, walking on a treadmill ranks at about 0.5. I don’t do it very often, and that means I don’t really know how to do it! The other night, I laughed at myself as I fumbled around trying to figure out the control panel of the machine. At the end of my workout, I actually had to stand still on the treadmill and hold the hand rails for a while before stepping off, or I would have lost my balance and fallen. But as I walked on the treadmill in my perpetually uncoordinated state, friends stopped by to chat and camaraderie was shared as we talked life and family and workouts.
Never in a million years would I have thought that I would be trying to physically run around my neighborhood or going to a gym. I started going to the gym a couple of years ago when two of my local Curves closed. I loved Curves. It was a safe place for women just like me to work out.
I found the gym intimidating, but I soon found mission in it. As we start to move around outdoors and at the fitness club, we can be trailblazers for other women.
When one Curves and then another closed, all of us 40-something women suddenly needed to find a new place to stay active. A lot of us landed at a fitness club at which a large portion of the clientele is the male power lifter. Do you know who inspired us? An 80-plus-year-old woman who had joined the gym after the first Curves had closed. Every morning she braved the muscle men clanging their weights around to get in her daily walk on the treadmill. The environment didn’t intimidate her, so why should it intimidate us? She blazed a trail for us. That kind of confidence inspires me.
- So, yes, I do Les Mills BodyPump, which is a grueling resistance training workout, but I started with 1-pound weights and almost cried from fear during my first class because it was led by a drill-sergeant-like gal who happened to be a substitute that night. I didn’t even know how to secure the weight plates on the bar! But as I have stuck with the class and gained strength, my presence has made it safe for other older, less fit women to give the class a try.
- (For the men reading along: When the overweight, out-of-shape man steps onto the treadmill or gets on his bike, he gives other men courage to do the same. There is real value in that.)
- I can’t hold planks on my toes quite yet, but when I give it a go, supporting myself on my knees, that gives other women permission to use the same modifications if their weight, joint strength, or abdominal strength doesn’t allow them to do a “real” plank yet.
- The other night, when I used the cold weather as an excuse to not run outside, down my street came a gal jogging at about the pace I go, which is very, very slow. She was modeling to me, calling with her courage, “Get out here! You can do it!”
Our role as imperfect, aging, but improving women is important. It’s important for the women around us. It’s important for our children and grandchildren. What we do is just as important as the woman competing in a triathlon, because we are giving safety, comfort, and confidence to the women who are in the same boat as us or just tiptoeing into being physically active.
And if you are racing in duathlons, triathlons, or obstacle course competitions, you are setting the pace and encouraging women who are just behind you and are looking for inspiration and people after which they can model their activities.
Rock on, sisters and friends! WE ARE TRAILBLAZERS!
Has a trailblazer set the pace for you? In what ways can you be a trailblazer this week?