FITNESS, HEALTH & AGING: A 50-Something's Journey by Jane Rabanal

November 15, 2023 3 min read

A 50-Something's Journey
by Jane Rabanal, Verse™ Director of Design

I remember a time as a young adult, thinking ahead toward my older years. I couldn’t really imagine what that looked like. Since I was a preteen, I was athletic and played sports consistently. In college, I started working out at the gym. My brother introduced me to basic weight training using the fixed fitness machines and free weights, and I did aerobic exercises to stay “thin”. (Back then, it wasn’t so desirable for girls to have pronounced muscles.) But for me, feeling strong in my body was empowering. I seldom felt the need to ask someone to help lift or move things for me. Gym life and sports were things I enjoyed regularly through my 20s and 30s. 

In my mid 30’s, I discovered martial arts, specifically Muay Thai (Thai kickboxing). I thought I was pretty fit, but my first introductory class was humbling. I had a hard time keeping pace with the intensity of the striking, kicking, and calisthenics. And then there was jump rope… that was the hardest part, mentally if not physically. After that first class was over, I could hardly move my arms to drive home. But I Was Hooked. That night sparked a decade or so of Muay Thai training. I was highly devoted, focused and as fit as I’d ever been.

Fast forward several years later, juggling work and other life events and responsibilities, I started to stray from the commitment Muay Thai required. Though I knew I needed to maintain a more low key form of exercise, I longed for the thrill Muay Thai brought me. I resorted to training at home with personal equipment. Over time, workouts became spotty, and then a funny thing happened — age and a pandemic. I developed Frozen Shoulder and couldn’t do a lot of physical activities over the 2 years my shoulder was impaired. Years later, post pandemic, I’m still coming to terms with the impact that Covid had on my lifestyle. 

A few weeks ago, we published a Newsletter and blog featuring Nanette, 57, talking about her journey prioritizing weightlifting after 50. Reading Nanette’s story made me reflect on my own journey. Here I am now, having hit that benchmark. I too recognize why resistance training is so important, for older women especially(1). Paying attention to my age and personal health markers have sparked my motivation to establish a new fitness regimen. Since the pandemic, I’ve slowly gotten back into a regular workout routine. But honestly, it’s been frustrating approaching exercises that were once so routine that now feel like an uphill battle.

Nowadays, I’m working my way through modified resistance training with bodyweight exercises, resistance bands and free weights — applauding my efforts and incremental progress I make (no matter how modest). Daily morning yoga has become essential to combat the chronic joint issues that have plagued me over the last few years. Ultimately, I’m learning to age with grace. By that I mean, I’m learning to accept that my body isn’t the same as it was 15+ years ago, while still striving to restore some of the vigor I once had. I’ve still got my gloves, and I enjoy it when I get to hit (and kick) that bag every now and again.

(1) Here’s an article we referenced before.

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