An older woman walked into an exercise studio filled with women average age 30-something. Instructor demonstrated exercises that would be covered in the class. A helpful lady next to older woman introduced herself and re-explained what the instructor just went over. Twice during the hour-long exercise, the helpful lady told the older woman that she was doing a GOOD JOB! At the end of class, the helpful lady went out of her way to befriend the older woman and again told her what a GOOD JOB she did.
It is obvious that the helpful lady assumed that the older woman would need help understanding and doing the exercises. As you may have guessed…. I was the Older Woman. I was offended and found myself explaining that I had done a triathalon (my one big claim to fame) and that I was trying this class because I needed to step down from a bootcamp that I have been taking (which was true). Then I got angry with myself for being defensive.
I was defensive because I’ve been feeling my age lately. Because, I can no longer do what I once did. My body snaps, crackles, and pops like a box of Rice Krispies. Occasionally, I wear a knee brace to stave off the knee replacement that I will need in the future. I sometimes need a heating pad for my back after a long bike ride. I refer to myself as an aging athlete, and It’s clear that I’m no longer a spring chicken, but I’m not ready to be written off. I’m disheartened that people look at me and see an “older woman”.
Then I remembered an “older woman” that I knew from a prior exercise class. She too was an aging athlete. She could no longer do century bike rides (100 miles), and had cut back to half centuries. I guess she was 10 years senior to me. I also remembered that, unbeknownst to her, she was a role-model for me.
I hope I can be a role-model for others.