Charm has dealt with chronic lower back pain and arthritis. “I believe by strengthening my body, I am overcoming both conditions,” she says. “I’m improving my health. If I don’t take care of myself, these minor conditions can turn into major issues. I’m not willing to do that to myself. I deserve to be healthy.”
Charm says she is motivated by her parents, who both have had battles with serious health issues and chose to change their lifestyles. “I respect them so much for their commitment to getting healthy and fit,” Charm explains. “They are my role models; they inspire my walk with Christ, my commitment to my family and my work ethic.”
Charm believes in a “no excuses” approach. “I make sure I keep my workouts a priority; my workout sessions are just as important as my faith, my family and my paychecks,” Charm says. “If I’m not healthy, then I’m hindering what I can contribute to my family and to my job.”
Charm has been married for 17 years and has four children and a standard Poodle named Miles Davis. She enjoys sharing her “clean eating” meals on social media as Chef Charmee. To keep it simple, Charm enjoys lean meats, veggies and fruits. Her favorite healthy snack is avocado.
For anyone getting started on their fitness journey, Charm suggests signing up for the Aspire Fitness aspirefitnessky.com/subscribe-to-our-mailing-list free newsletter, which offers nutrition and fitness information. She also suggests keeping it simple and starting with the basics and stay positive, it’s a journey not a race.
Tom is a firm believer that fitness should be a part of an everyday routine. “I try not to think of it as ‘making time’,” he suggests. “Enjoy your fitness, do whatever you can do, as little as it may be – it all counts”. For Tom, his love of cycling began in college. He especially enjoys Lexington’s beautiful landscape while cycling in and around town.
Tom prioritizes fitness because he endeavors to age as well as he can. “My great-grandfather lived to be over 100 years old. He was active every day, maintained a healthy lifestyle and enjoyed a tremendous quality of life beyond age 100,” he says. In addition to improving health, Tom suggests that fitness can be harmonious with the development and support of healthy relationships. “Walking the neighborhood and UK Arboretum with my wife and creating some ‘quiet time’ to truly communicate has been extremely beneficial over the past few years, especially as the kids’ number of activities has increased!” With his three children participating in basketball, baseball, volleyball, swimming, guitar and piano, plus his own involvement with Crestwood Christian Church, Eastern Little League and Glendover Basketball League, finding time to be fit with his wife Kelly is truly cherished.
Tom enjoys cycling, walking, running, swimming and playing with his kids. In addition to being an avid recreational cyclist, Tom completed the Tough Mudder in 2013 (Maysville), Horse Capital half marathon (2015) and multiple 5ks, 10ks and sprint distance triathlons.
Angie’s husband works as a Lexington Fire Department Investigator; they have a rescued 80-pound Pitbull named Beau. Angie has a fourteen-year-old daughter, a fifteen-year-old stepdaughter from her current marriage and two stepdaughters from a previous marriage. With such a busy family, she has to work to keep fitness at front of mind. “The balancing act is best described as standing in the middle of a teeter totter,” she says. “Balancing family, job and workouts is difficult, but I know that I have to take care of my mind and body to be useful to anyone else.”
To make the balance work, Angie suggests rethinking time management. “Throw away the old notions that it will sort itself out,” she advises. “Plan and schedule days on a calendar that you are committing to go to a class or that you are meeting someone to work out with who will hold you accountable.”
For Angie, making fitness a priority is important because it makes her feel her best. “I am in a much better state mentally when I am working out and taking care of my body,” she explains. “This, in turn, affects all of my relationships and work ethic in a positive way.”
When she’s not running or working out at Orange Theory Fitness, Angie volunteers with the Praise Team at Crossroads Christian Church and Capital City Christian. She is also on the board of Stop Heroin Lexington. Angie, a Physician Assistant, enjoys reading, trying new recipes, landscaping and gardening.
When Kim was diagnosed with hypothyroidism after the birth of her first child, she fell out of the habit of staying active. “I just didn’t have the drive or energy to work out,” she explains. “After 15 years of not exercising, I heard about a free tennis clinic, so I decided to give it a try. I was hooked!” She joined the club and started taking lessons and group clinics.
Just as Kim was finding her groove, her body began to break down. “I was in a lot of pain and spending lots of time in doctors’ offices and physical therapy. I suffered from shin splints and joint pain,” she says. “I began to imagine what my body would be like years down the road if I continued to do nothing. I knew I had to make a change.”
She read about the Whole30 program, a month long clean-eating diet. Kim tried it and lost twelve pounds. She continued to eat cleanly and found exercises that she enjoyed. Kim says that her Catholic faith played a critical role in her success and she realized that her body is a gift that needs to be respected and cared for.
Kim works out with a tennis pro at Lexington Tennis Club three times a week and plays on multiple tennis teams. She and her husband are doing p90x and running together. Now, Kim feels great and has lots of energy; her joints no longer hurt and she is healed completely.
In total, she has lost 86 pounds!
“Life begins at 40, but my body started to fall apart,” Jonathan the former Kentucky State Treasurer and a husband and father of two, explains. “A lifetime of back problems grew worse, and I started to have blood pressure issues. I had gained 15 pounds that seemed resistant to shedding.”
In spite of leaving his high-stress career in politics, Jonathan felt fatigued, his mood was impacted and he couldn’t lose weight. Even his hobbies were sedentary: writing for Kentucky Sports Radio and the Daily Beast, making the final table at the World Series of Poker. Knowing his own father died too early, he sought professional advice. He was diagnosed with what he calls “an un-funny case of Low T” and began testosterone therapy, which he calls a “godsend”.
Now, Jonathan works out twice a week with his personal trainer, Josh Bowen at Aspire Fitness. “Josh is very conscientious to ensure that I don’t reinjure my back; in fact his strength and conditioning coaching helped me overcome a lifetime of back problems,” Jonathan explains. “And he sometimes laughs at my jokes.” Jonathan also does cardio four times a week and walks his dog, Apple. To keep his weight in check, he uses the Weight Watchers app.
Jonathan is now committed to helping men like him get on track with their wellness. “I’ve rallied a number of my middle-aged guy friends to recognize the value of eating healthy and getting fit,” he says. “We don’t want to admit that we are too old to coast on our 20-something habits, and that if we want to enjoy the second half of our lives, fitness is essential.”
Jeff says he has been tall and lean most of his life, but he really picked up exercise six years ago after the unexpected passing of his father from a massive heart attack.
Katherine’s family history includes cardiovascular and autoimmune diseases. Because of this, she has always stayed aware of fitness and nutrition. “I never dreamed my husband would be this fit! Watching him discover cycling the past
3 years has been wonderful, but he has certainly surpassed me in all areas of fitness,” she laughs. “We both hope for long, active lives with minimal health issues. We often discuss how we hope to still be fit if and when we have grandchildren so we can enjoy them to the fullest.”
Their children also value fitness. “A couple of days before our oldest left for her freshman year of college, she requested for her final family outing a hike at the Red River Gorge (and a stop for pizza at Miguel’s, of course),” Jeff says. “We also love that our adolescent son coaches youth basketball at the Y. Tying fitness and volunteer work has been a focus for our lives and it’s fun to see our kids follow suit.”
In addition to helping them stay fit, Katherine and Jeff say that fitness is a part of their overall wellness. Both of their careers can be stressful at times and exercise helps them stay balanced.
All through high school, Crinda was a cheerleader, so exercise was a natural part of her routine. When she started college at UK, however, cheerleading stopped and so did her workouts. “After two years of college, I knew I had to make a change,” she says. She began teaching aerobic classes at the YWCA and a local church. “From there, fitness just became a part of my life that I knew I would never again give up.”
Crinda prefers group exercise classes, but as she travels a lot for work, she says she has learned to adjust her workouts to fit anywhere; she also serves as a group exercise instructor. “Fitness has to be a priority in my life. It’s stress relief and I am hooked on those natural endorphins!”
Crinda, her husband and two teens are all committed to working out. “Often, we are fighting over time in our gym,” she laughs. “Besides the obvious benefits of exercise, my kids are my biggest motivation. I want to be a positive, healthy role model for them and want lots of energy and mobility later (much later) in life to play with those grandkids!”
When she’s not running her own business, spending time with her family or staying fit, Crinda is involved with Children’s Ministry, Southland Christian Church and KET. She is proud to have participated in the Leukemia and Lymphoma Foundation Rock and Roll marathon, despite running being her least favorite form of exercise.
Pam and Matthew are a fit couple with busy lives. In addition to running their own businesses, they have a son, two daughters, three grandchildren, two dogs and a pet fish. Still, they manage to make exercise and eating right part of their routines.
Pam is a breast cancer survivor and her family has a history of obesity, so she has always put fitness as a priority in her life. On top of that, she says that her business keeps her on her toes. “Owning your own business, you can never afford downtime. Employees get sick and you have to pick up the ball and run,” she says. “There are no excuses in business, and client commitments come first.”
Matthew gained 40 extra pounds in his thirties. The couple built a gym in their home, allowing them to work out any time of day. By the time he went into his 40s, he had lost the weight. “With Diabetes, my body has enough to worry about without the stress of extra weight,” he explains. “I view each and every routine daily activity as an opportunity to excel."
Matthew, an ordained minister and a black belt in Hapkido, enjoys competitive shooting and is a member of the Lexington Rotary Club. Pam is a Rotary volunteer and motivational speaker. They skip fried foods and sugar when possible, instead choosing protein-rich foods and snacks. They are both huge fans of the FitBit as a fitness tool.
“Like most people, work overtook my fitness and eating habits,” Brain explains. “I decided to change my priorities when the results of my health checks were not as optimal as they should be.”
Now, Brian strength trains twice a week at Strong Shop Fitness and does cardio at home three times a week. He says his work schedule is tight, so he works to build his fitness routine around it. In five years of training at Strong Shop, Brian has reduced his body fat from over 25% to just 12%.
For Brian, the key to staying fit is making it a family activity. Brian and his wife have two kids and a German Shepherd. They train together and make fitness a part of their daily lives. “My whole family engages in some form of physical activity weekly.”
To keep his diet in check, Brian has implemented a ratio of 40% protein, 35% carbohydrates and 25% fats. He enjoys eating broccoli, chicken, sweet potatoes, rice and eggs. His favorite snack is popcorn at the movie theatre – no butter, light salt – with a Diet Coke.
“This hasn’t been a linear progression: there are ups and downs in trying to achieve your fitness goals,” Brian explains, “but by selecting a good trainer or centering around physically active people, you can achieve your goal!”
In 1996, Margaret Hancock was in her 30s, working a full time job and caring for her two-year-old daughter and six-year-old son. “I had to find something that would allow me to take care of myself but also fit into my hectic schedule,” she says. She began running 3-5 times a week at 5:30 am with a long run on Saturdays in her Dogwood Trace neighborhood. She explains, Running keeps me focused and goal-oriented because when everything else goes crazy in life, your work out is the one thing that stays consistent.”
Running eventually helped Margaret get through several tragedies, including the loss of her father and her mother’s diagnosis of multiple myeloma. In one particular instance when her mother was undergoing strenuous stem cell treatment, Margaret found herself running to alleviate the pain. She recalls, “At that moment I made a personal vow to never lose the drive to run.”
Since then, Margaret has completed twelve marathons and is still going strong well into her 50s. “Each race holds a special meaning to me, and they all have helped me realize I am stronger than I think I am and can persevere no matter what’s going on,” she explains. In addition to running, Margaret frequently participates in spinning class at Lexington Athletic Club. She also attends Shred classes at Strong Shop Fitness 3-5 times a week. For now, she plans on running the Charleston Marathon in January and then another in the fall of 2016, in addition to a half marathon.
“I am motivated by older people,” Dave says. “Even when I was very young, I would pay attention to old folks, some in their 90s. I remember saying ‘I want to be like them’. I’ve watched my mother Jean Elsen water ski in her 70s and play tennis well into her mid 80s.” Working at the YMCA, Dave sees people every day who stay fit throughout their Golden Years, like Virgina Bell, a 93 year-old who takes Pilates at the Y. “I witnessed her doing a 3-minute plank! What an inspiration.”
To ensure that his own life is long and vibrant, Dave aims to stay fit. He enjoys mixing up his fitness routine with running, lifting weights, riding bikes and rowing. However, having a busy life, he knows he has to make his fitness a priority. “If I don’t do it first thing, it doesn’t happen. I try and be at the YMCA before 6 am so it doesn’t interfere with my day,” he explains. A husband with three adult children, Dave is committed to being fit for his family. “I want to do the things that they like to do, even as I age,” he says.
“At the YMCA, we see people every day who struggle with getting started. What we’ve learned is that small things really matter. Make small behavior changes in your steps towards wellness. It could be as simple as giving up sugar beverages and walking for 15 minutes a day.”
As a teen, Kari was very athletic, playing sports in high school and intramural sports in college. “Then came family and career,” Kari says. “I put my fitness on the back shelf.” After her second child was born, Kari was the heaviest she had ever been and she knew things had to change. “I didn’t have the energy I needed to work fulltime, go to graduate school and chase 2 pre-school aged children around!”
Kari has osteopenia (thinning of her bones), so exercise and a healthy diet are even more critical to help stave off osteoporosis.
As the Principal of an elementary school, Kari’s day starts early. She wakes up at 4:30 am, which allows her to do a 30-minute workout before she walks her 8-year-old Shih Tzu and heads off to work with 530 students and 75 staff members.
Starting the day with fitness, she says, ensures that nothing else can get in the way.
Kari is proud to help get her school involved with living a healthier lifestyle. “We have a Fitness Friday every month so that both students and staff can learn about and practice wellness. Our teachers at Mary Todd work movement/brain breaks into instruction several times a day,” she explains.
Five years ago, Pam was diagnosed with sinus cancer. She underwent radiation and chemotherapy treatments for four months. “When my energy level did not improve after treatments stopped, testing revealed that I had developed Rheumatoid Arthritis,” Pam explains. “I experienced a high level of fatigue along with other symptoms that go along with immune system disorders, so physical exercise was not a part of my life at that time.”
After nearly 5 years of trying to find the right medications to improve her RA, Pam says, “another round of testing revealed yet another medical issue on the horizon that I was just not willing to accept.” She began trying to lose weight on her own when a doctor recommended a medically supervised program for weight loss through Health Management Resources/University of Kentucky, which also emphasizes physical activity. After beginning the program in March, she has lost a total of 65 pounds!
To keep fit, Pam sets aside 30 minutes in the morning to work out on the elliptical or weight machine as soon as she gets out of bed. “I try to walk every work day on my lunch hour either outside if weather permits, or at the local YMCA,” she says. She also stays active running her farm operation and excavation business with her husband. Together, they have three children and six grandchildren.
When Rita was involved in a head-on collision in 1988, everything in her life changed. “I spent 8 years in pain, going from doctor to doctor trying to get my life back,” she says. “I was told to find a doctor who would work with me on pain meds, and to learn to live with the pain.” She developed Fibromyalgia and Psoriatic Arthritis, leaving her at her wits end while trying to care for a young son.
“When I went to the YWCA and started to swim, I had my first day without pain,” she says. “I was amazed! I knew there were other people that were walking around in the same shape that could have a better quality of life if they only knew.” Rita eventually was able to walk without the crutches or cane she had become dependent on.
Rita was motivated to keep taking classes and eventually began teaching them. “I am now at the YMCA and have some water aerobics participants who have followed me for 26 years,” she says.
A few years ago, Rita branched out to begin teaching the Silver Sneakers Group of seniors and training cancer survivors through the free LiveStrong @ the Y Program. “I am motivated by these seniors and cancer survivors, who can fight for a better quality of life with a smile on their face,” she says. “I love that I can be a little part of that, although they do all the work.”
“I have had a love/hate relationship with fitness for many years,” Maynard admits. “In my 40s, I became an avid biker. But then I was hit by a truck while on my bike, and my passion for riding disappeared.” That experience, combined with a new job, a big move and the effects of aging all took a toll on Maynard’s body. “I had to make a change, and nearly four years ago, I made the commitment to get healthy again.”
Maynard knew that developing a fitness routine on his own was too heavy on aerobic activity and lacking in muscle development. “That is why I sought out a personal trainer and strength coach who could guide me in a routine that would include all phases of fitness,” he explains. Now, they work on a wide variety of activities. “With the help of my strength coach, I am focused on a full-body, energy training system that provides variety and challenges me to find muscles I didn’t even know I had.”
Maynard’s job involves a lot of stamina and strategic thinking; he also wants to be healthy and strong for his family. “Fitness has to be a priority in order for me to succeed in both my professional and personal life,” he says. “I have learned that it is not about how I look, or how much I weigh,” Maynard explains.
Twenty-one years ago, Terry had surgery to remove a non-malignant tumor on the auditory and balance nerve. “The surgeon recommended walking and physical activity as therapy. Meanwhile, Gail’s doctor suggested physical exercise to strengthen her skeletal structure and cardio system,” Terry says.
Together, Terry and Gail enjoy spinning at Cycle You. “We both have a little arthritis creeping into our systems and spinning helps us stay limber and gives us energy,” Gail explains. “It’s easy on the joints!” In addition to spinning, the couple enjoys walking, biking, working at their small business and doing deep-breathing exercises.
To keep on top of their fitness, the couple has to stay flexible. “We operate a small family business, which means work always comes first over other activities. We schedule our spinning after work hours and before we go home,” Gail says. The couple has two grown children and grandchildren ranging in age from 9 to 21. “Our fitness activities help us with our blood pressure, cardiovascular system, muscle tone and skeletal structure. It keeps our lungs strong and our bodies young. We meet lots of nice, interesting people,” Terry says.
When they’re not running Bryant’s Rent-All or working on staying fit, the couple enjoys the arts and are passionate about supporting the UK Opera Theatre program. “The highlight of the year is Grand Night for Singing,” Terry says. “Lexington is full of talented musicians to be enjoyed!”
Joe has completed 50 triathlons – all since he turned 69! Joe began running in his 40s. However, his arthritic joints have made running uncomfortable and inconvenient. Rather than give up on his fitness, Joe has simply switched gears. Now, he swims three times a week with the UK Masters swim program. In the winter, he takes spinning classes at HealthwoRx three times a week; during the summer, he bikes outdoors. He also runs when his joints allow it, which he says is infrequently.
For Joe, staying active is necessary. “I just don’t feel well without frequent exercise,” he explains. After retirement and until recently, Joe worked part-time teaching at UK; now, he is a chemistry tutor for middle and high school students, as well as at the Carnegie Center. He has also done other teaching and outreach work, including serving on several non-profit boards.
Joe’s wife prepares balanced, gluten-free meals for Joe, as he has celiac disease. He enjoys snacking on nuts and yogurt and says his favorite “splurge” food is flourless chocolate cake and ice cream. Joe has three adult children.
For anyone looking to get fit, Joe suggests
setting a regular schedule. “Develop the habit,” he advises. For him, an approach that worked well was exercising with a group on a set schedule, often early morning.