Dawn Cole thinks you’re never too old to start something completely new.
In fact, taking up new fitness hobbies has been a huge part of Cole’s active lifestyle for the last 20-plus years.
Cole had always been an avid gym goer. But at age 47, she started playing soccer for the first time and soon after became goalkeeper for an over-50 women’s team. It was during those years that her love of the sport and desire to stay strong in goal prompted her to seek out California Family Fitness personal trainer Janice Dean.
“I contacted Janice because I wanted to build upper-body strength,” Cole said. “Janice tailored a fitness program specific to my goals and limitations. But it’s become about so much more than building upper body strength. Janice is such a positive, encouraging and motivating person. She just makes you want to lead a healthy lifestyle and be active every day.”
It was Dean who suggested Cole and her gym friends — most of whom at the time were also in their 50s and 60s — form a weightlifting team, which they eventually named the Sacramento Iron Maidens.
“Janice encouraged us to enter weightlifting competitions as a team. And at first we thought she was crazy,” Cole said. “But we committed to train as a team and we had so much fun doing that together that we agreed to enter a competition or two.”
International Weight Lifting Competitions
Over the next several years, the Sacramento Iron Maidens went on to the World Masters Games in Torino, Italy, Auckland, New Zealand, and Sydney, Australia. The team won the silver medal at both the Tornio and Sydney Olympic games in the women over-60 weight competition.
“We’re at the age where we either use it or lose it,” said Cole, who overcame Hodgkin’s Lymphoma while training with Dean. “Working out at the gym is an important part of maintaining our fitness level and just our overall health.”
Cole said socializing is also important to her health.
“Being a part of a community like the gym is an extremely good motivator as we get older,” she said. “I’m retired now, so I don’t have that office environment to see friends and coworkers. Going to the gym is just a really important element of my social and fitness life.”
Gym Membership Builds Community
Cole continues to push herself in her fitness and her lifestyle. She’s now a member of over-70 women’s soccer and weightlifting teams and also rides with the Sacramento Bike Hikers, a cycling club.
“Those of us that ride together are mostly retired,” she said. “Two-thirds of us are in our 60s and the rest are in their 70s. Honestly, I can’t keep up with the 70-year-olds! They inspire me to be like them when I grow older. It inspires me to maintain my fitness.”
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