Recently, I’ve found two new exercise role models (and one that I admired four years ago) who are all middle-age women. This trio continue to push themselves physically as they age and seem to have found the fountain of youth. I think you'll find them equally as inspiring.
Sadly, an era ended yesterday. Dara Torres didn’t qualify for the Olympics. Why is that important? Well, you see, this would have been Dara’s sixth Olympics. At the age of 45, she was edged out of qualifying by a whopping nine-hundredths of a second in the 50-meter freestyle in the Olympic qualifying swim meet. She was beaten by a 25-year-old and a 26-year-old.
In a story in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Torres admitted that her body has had difficulty recovering from the strain of swimming qualifying races and a final. “Mentally it’s been so tough the past couple years with having more bad workouts than good workouts and going to meets and not being able to go faster at night than I did in the morning,” she said.
During her career, Torres won 12 Olympic medals, but I’d also suggest that she has served as a great role model for women as they age. She hasn’t backed down from challenging herself physically and has proven that we all can strive for new goals. And yes, some of my friends will say that she’s an elite athlete who is physically gifted and has the best training over all of those years, but I’d also add that she has kept herself together when many have mentally crumbled and also seems to have kept a perspective of who she is.
I especially like what HealthCentral contributor Kenn Kihiu wrote in a 2008 sharepost prior to the Beijing Olympics: "When you see a story like Dara's, please don't just say, "Wow, she is amazing, she is beating people half her age!" I also want you to see your potential that you have it within your grasp to be at the top and the best of your game regardless of how old you are. The lesson still holds true, simply believe it in your heart and mind and match your training to your belief.
Missy Park, the chief executive of Title Nine (a women’s athletic clothing company), was featured recently in the Wall Street Journal. I was impressed by this woman’s commitment to exercise, not only for herself, but also by offering great opportunities for her employees.
Park has a history of being active, having played basketball at Yale University. She founded Title Nine in 1989 at the age of 26. Now 50, Park exercises regularly and encourages her employees to be active while at work. “I wanted fitness to be at the center of this company and it literally is,” she said.
And exercise is definitely in the center of Title Nine’s world. The main office is built around a 2,200-square-foot gym with treadmills, spinning bikes, elliptical machines, weights, rubber bands, a bench press and stability ball. In addition, the company brings in a guest instructor to teach a workout class three times a week. Park also creates stress-busting sessions called “feats of strength” that involve fun and different exercise activity, such as bouncy-ball races and office chair foosball.