Better than Botox

April 3, 2013

Seeing this clip during week, of two amazing men in their 90s running the 100-metre dash, got me thinking about ageing and fitness.


These guys are more inspiring to me than all the memes of perfect bodies circulating with cliches about hard work and dedication to achieve ‘the look’. Let’s face it. It’s just more of the same. Images of unattainable bodies, mostly models, to allegedly motivate people to train.But I believe consistent training is more about function than appearance, about deeper benefits that those you see on the surface. Do you think those elderly runners were thinking about their bikini bodies when they prepared for that dash?

They were thinking about how they could move faster and they were training not to give up.

I’ve seen people half their age and less who have trouble getting out of low chairs. I don’t want that to be me. I want to be the other 90 year old woman in the 90 year age category in a boxing ring.

And thankfully, with the raising of the amateur boxing age limit to 40 and the growth in masters boxing competition, there are more and more opportunities for older athletes to maintain the rage, keep training and sparring and running instead of sitting on the sidelines. Ageing isn’t what it used to be when you hit 40, out came the slippers and along with that a rigid, de-conditioned, uncoordinated, unbalanced, slow, deteriorating, fat body. Now you can mix with younger people, train with them and be invigorated by them and maybe show them a thing or two.

I met some female  boxers in the United States who defied every expectation about women and age. I fought one of them twice, the  New Jersey boxer Jackie Atkins (pictured below), now in her 50s.

Jackie Atkins

Terri Moss (left)

Alicia ‘Slick’ Ashley












And then the was the pocket rocket Terri ‘The Boss’ Moss, in the Guiness Book of World Records as the oldest female world champion boxer at 43. She’s now the owner of a gym in Atlanta Georgia, The Buckhead Fight Club and runs corporate fight nights. But she’s now 47 and still stays in great shape all the time, as the picture above shows.

And my New York trainer, inspiration and great friend Alicia ‘Slick’ Ashley is another age defying athlete. She actually usurped Terri Moss in the record books. This stunning woman and unique athlete is still going strong at Gleason’s Gym in Brooklyn.


Running is probably the best example of an ageless sport.


And Yarraville’s own Fit2gether running coach Deidre Cooney is yet another example of someone ageing with vigour outside the boxing ring. You’ll see her all the time around the ‘hood with her groups, running, running, running. She’s another inspiration.


Deirdre Cooney from Fit2gether

And articles like this one in the New York Times encourage me all the more. I’m not a fast runner, not a distance runner, not a great sprinter. But I do it at least three times a week so that I can continue to move around a boxing ring, sparring with those half my age. Running is such an efficient form of exercise. It makes you fit reasonably quickly if you keep it up and it’s possible to do it almost anywhere and really at any time.

Sometimes it might even be easier than you think. One of my clients, Gayle, who recently turned 40 and wants to get fit, told me four weeks ago she couldn’t run. Yesterday, we ran four kilometres together without a rest and she told me her next goal was to run around Princes Park in Carlton.

‘super nanna’ Cherie

‘Super nanna’ Cherie

And I always talk about my amazing 67-year-old client Cherie, a busy grandmother with a full dance card of activities who trains with me twice a week. She starts with two rounds of skipping, five rounds of pad punching and often some resistance training with increasingly heavier weights. Yesterday she came to the gym in jeans because she’d run out of time to change and didn’t want to miss a session. I love Cherie. She’s got heaps of energy and lives life to the full. She recently spent the weekend with her elderly uncle, who’s in his 90’s. The way she’s going, she’ll be training at his age. I hope so, anyway. She’s got a great jab.


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