Dan asked if I would write about my experience in lifting so I will give it a whirl. Hopefully, it will help someone who is thinking about doing this.
I retired the end of June and my son thought this would be a great time to start weightlifting. He had heard both my husband and I say that we just couldn’t work as long in the yard as we used to. My son has been lifting for a couple of years so he knew well the benefits of lifting. He was looking for a trainer in the Starting Strength program and found Dan. I said I was game and we made an appointment to go meet him.
I had never thought about lifting weights so I had no preconceived ideas of what it would be like or even if I could do it. My son is very methodical in his research so I knew he wouldn’t get me into something that wouldn’t be good for me. We met with Dan for a number of hours and he showed me the three different lifts I would start with and how to do them properly. The weight was light and very doable. He said he would send me two weeks worth of workouts and I could then determine if I wanted to continue with him.
I must confess that I was somewhat intimidated to go into the gym the first time. I had never seen a woman lift weights and I was afraid people would look at me and think, “What is she doing here?” It’s definitely been VERY helpful in having my son Andrew come with me to all my workouts. Since I’m retired I can work around my his schedule. He also cues me if my form is not correct. I would say it’s very beneficial to have someone lift with you. It keeps you accountable and it also makes you feel less vulnerable. I have found people at the gym to be helpful. You just have to get over being afraid to ask someone for help.
At first, I thought I wasn’t doing enough weight or reps. However, I trusted that Dan knew what he was doing and there was a reason for his workouts. One of the most important things I learned is that lifting is very doable. I feel challenged each time I work out but not exhausted. It’s a little silly, but I get great satisfaction checking off when I am done with a lift. It’s very empowering to be able to say, “Wow, I just lifted 85 lbs.!”
Not only do I get satisfaction for doing something to strengthen my body, but it also gives my confidence a boost in other areas. Two weeks after I began I had to go to Chicago to take care of my grandkids for a week. Dan said, “Find a gym and keep going.” For me, that is a tall order. I HATE driving in cities that I’m not familiar with. I found a gym about 15 minutes from the house and got in both of my workouts for the week. Walking into a gym I didn’t know was also intimidating, but I just went in there like I knew what I was doing and got it done. For me, this was a huge accomplishment. I pushed through two very uncomfortable situations. I figure if I could do those two things I can try anything.
I look forward to my workouts. I know they are doable and that I will be challenged. Having a trainer that tells me how many reps, sets, and at what weight is very helpful. I don’t have to guess am I doing too little or too much.
Presently I do not have any long-range goals of how much weight I want to lift. I just want to get as strong as possible and keep my body as healthy as possible. Another benefit is that I think twice about eating certain foods. I figure if I am working on strength I should also be concerned about nutrition.
I am a 66-year-old woman just starting my life of weightlifting. If I can do it, I know others can too. The first step is always the hardest.
Cathy performs the goblet squat with a 15lb dumbbell. She trains twice per week- one day she squats and the other she leg presses.
*Cathy deadlifts 85lbs for her 2nd set of 4 repetitions. She deadlifts 1-2 days per week, sometimes alternating with lat pulldowns for upper back strength.