On Being 60

Sep 4, 2015 | Turning 60 and Beyond | 0 comments

If you are 60 or anywhere near there, you’ve probably grown up with the notion that the transformation from middle age to senior citizen status means you have to slow down. I can’t tell you how many times I ‘ve heard that from family and friends. I’m here to tell you it’s just not true.

At 59 I started worrying about turning 60 in a very negative way.  Eventually I came to the conclusion that I needed something that would prove to myself and others that I wasn’t getting old anytime soon. I came up with a plan to see just how strong I could be.  It was the beginning of September 2012 — I had five months to accomplish my goals. Lofty dreams for anyone but I had this burning desire and something to prove, if only to myself.  I ramped  up my workout regime, hired trainers and worked out at the gym five times a week. I pumped more iron and did more push-ups than I ever had in my entire life. The funny thing though — I was having a ball. Three days before my 60th birthday my husband and biggest supporter, along with my trainer witnessed and documented the final results. I bench pressed 100 pounds five times; I did five full-weight chin-ups, 25 full body push-ups, five 75 pound squat-rack squats  and five lateral pull-downs. I experienced such an overwhelming feeling of pride and accomplishment — beyond my wildest dreams. I was ecstatic.

After that major accomplishment, I joined a different gym run by two fabulous, fit  and knowledgeable ladies. It didn’t take long for an  extraordinary camaraderie with other like-minded women developed and somehow I got persuaded into training with them for the Fem-Sport competition in June.  Fem-Sport is a unique event for female athletes to test their strength, agility, power, endurance and speed. Every female, 19 and over, is welcome to compete regardless of their level of fitness.Thirteen of us, ranging in ages 22 to 62,  started out on this lofty endeavor in early February.  By the time competition time arrived in June my training ramped up again to four or five times a week.  June 28, competition day, with major trepidation setting in and  butterflies flying in formation I was ready. And so, I walked that balance beam; ran through the agility poles; carried two 45 pound pails of water a distance of 150 feet; pushed a car; jumped over a four and a half foot box vault and carried five kettle bells weighing 40 to 70 pounds a 30 foot distance. But my most challenging and rewarding event for me was flipping the tractor tire ( yes a real tractor tire) five times. After the first flip, I faltered and didn’t think I could do it, but hearing my name chanted by the crowd “Go Cheryl, Go Cheryl” is what gave me the strength to do it — I will never forget that moment.

At 62 I was the second oldest competitor, and in most events I came in last. But, I showed up, I did it, and that day I became my own champion. The outpouring of support from my work-out friends and complete strangers was unbelievable.  And once again I proved to myself that I can do anything I put my mind to.

And the next time someone tells me that I am too old to do something, my answer is simply “Watch Me.