By Denise Lodge
It is possible to begin new opportunities, have new dreams, and do anything at any age. Edna Levitt is an example of someone who sees aging not as a time of endings and limitations, but as a time of increasing possibilities. At 50, she first began exercising, after her son joined a gym and suggested she do the same; at 65, she started a new career as a certified personal trainer, and founded her own business, 50+ fitness; and at 70, she authored and published a book, Personal Trainer to Go. These days, at 72, she works out every morning, helps others to reach and surpass their dreams, and gives great insight on how to get in shape and feel healthier.
We asked Edna some questions to find out more about her lifestyle, her philosophy, and her helpful tips.
Impowerage: Can you explain why you say, “I think anyone over the age of 55 who doesn’t lift weights is nuts”?
Edna: There are people who don’t realize that we start losing muscle mass (girls more than boys!) in our mid to late 30s. And – sorry to say this – we continue to lose 1-2% of muscle mass every year. So by the time a woman reaches 80, she’s lost 40% of her muscle mass! The only way to halt and reverse this process is to embark on resistance training – lifting weights or exercising with a resistance band on a regular basis builds muscle mass. And that’s exactly what we want as we age. It’s that simple!
I: What are some of your favourite exercises?
I: What is the biggest mistake you see people over 50 making in the gym?
E: Exercising with shoulders hunched over – it’s SO important to assume proper posture while exercising. I am constantly reminding my clients, “shoulders back, chin and chest forward – shoulders back and down – stand proud”!
When Edna first joined the gym, she walked around the track. She quickly grew bored of walking, and joined an aerobics class. After exercising, she found that she had more energy, and felt better about herself and her body. Edna says that it took time to adjust to working out five times a week; she did “more aerobic exercise than resistance training,” and it took about 6-8 weeks for her body to adjust. Getting in shape can seem daunting, but Edna offers some helpful advice: firstly, start exercising, and secondly, start eating right. For the best workout, Edna recommends “an amalgam of cardio and resistance training.” Edna recommends a diet low in fat and high in fibre, though she doesn’t “use the word “diet” unless it’s preceded by “healthy.”” In other words, Edna avoids “gimmicky diets,” and advises that “healthy eating is the best route to take.”
How to Defeat Defeat
Sometimes, when we hear about great achievements, we can become intimidated and decide that the goals are too high or too hard for us to achieve. Edna understands the intimidation the gym can bring to someone new to exercise; people can be intimidated by the equipment, or embarrassed about their bodies. Edna comes alongside her clients and trains with them, providing a living example of her program. She also encourages breaking down a large goal into smaller goals; for example, if one hour of exercise a day seems daunting, she recommends breaking it up into 10-15-minute sessions. Some people anticipate weight gain and decreased energy levels as an inevitable part of aging; Edna exemplifies that it is possible to defy such expectations and choose a different reality.
Becoming a personal trainer was not something Edna had always set out to do; she says it “was really happenstance!” As she was leaving a restaurant one summer night, the owner stopped her and asked her if she worked out, saying she could “tell by her arms.” Edna was stunned, never really having thought about the changes in her body over the years. The following morning, when she told her ‘gym buddy’ about this comment, Edna joked, “You know what? I should become a personal trainer for little old ladies!” Her friend’s response was, “Good idea!”
Edna’s business, 50+ fitness, is a workout program “targeted to Baby Boomers and Baby Boomers Plus who want to boost muscle tone and endurance, and at the same time, get into shape and feel healthier.” Edna designs workouts that “challenge 50+ bodies to achieve the best possible results.” She meets clients for an initial consultation, and designs a program specifically for individual fitness levels and goals.
Edna’s mission is to “inspire, motivate, and guide” her clients to fulfill their fitness goals, and to “achieve their personal best.” Because she has seen the results of fitness in her own life, and how it has helped others, she is passionate about what she does. Edna has helped people turn seemingly impossible dreams into reality. For some, reality has surpassed their dreams. One 87-year-old woman who used a walker wanted to walk down the aisle at her grandson’s wedding with confidence. After five months, with Edna’s training, the woman was able to dance at her grandson’s wedding.
Edna trains clients at home, the office, or the gym. Her program is not suited only to beginner exercisers, but also to those who have tried exercise without results, or those who want to add a boost to their routine. Edna offers training sessions one-on-one, for couples, and for small groups. When asked if Edna has any plans to retire, she replied, “Not right now!”
About The Author: Denise Lodge has a Bachelor of Arts, Honours degree in Professional Writing. She enjoys reading, writing, and travelling.
Photos by Jen Arron