Aging is a woman’s superpower but embracing the physical changes that come with passing decades may prove difficult for some. No worries. It’s completely possible to maintain a healthy body as you age and these female fitness trainers over 40 show can tell you how.
Donna Howarth: The Motivator
Donna Howarth is set to turn 50 in May and with this milestone on the horizon, there’s no stopping her resolve to help menopausal women manage their symptoms through exercise. She started this journey after suffering a partial tear of the rectus abdominis, which coincided with the onset of perimenopause.
“I lost confidence and was absent from the gym for a good 12 months, so I had to rebuild my body and my confidence,” she says. “I educated myself on all things menopause including symptoms and how to alleviate them, which led me to creating the Middle East Menopause Organization to focus on coaching and working with women entering perimenopause.”
Donna suggests any woman trying to improve her fitness commit to small steps.
“Walk, swim, cycle, jog,” she advises. “Seek the support of other like-minded individuals. Join an exercise group or even speak to friends to create a fitness group.”
She also suggests researching symptoms to learn about treatment options.
“Be mindful of food choices. Eat a varied, nutritious diet, and stay hydrated. Weight loss begins in the kitchen and if you’re struggling or feel overwhelmed, seek the advice and support of coaches who are knowledgeable about working with women in your age.”
• Get moving with Donna via online classes at @Pause.Fit on Instagram or BFIT Group Classes at @TheBodylineGym. Learn more about menopause by visiting @Middle_East_Menopause_Organistation on Instagram and Facebook.
Eva Clarke: The Grappler
Eva Clarke is a 42-year-old fitness trainer and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu coach with a passion for helping others grow mentally and physically. She credits her love for fitness and sport for keeping her on the straight and narrow as a kid.
“If I didn’t have fitness in my life, I am not sure I would be who I am today,” she says. “Everything about how I push myself mentally and physically reflects who I am and I want to inspire others to reap the rewards of pushing past. I have always believed that being the best version of myself and helping others do the same is one of life’s most rewarding feelings. That feeling of helping people and developing lifelong friendships keeps me inspired every day to repeatedly help others be the best they can be.”
Eva began her career as a combat fitness leader in the army and later transferred to the Air Force as a full time physical training instructor. She later earned a diploma in fitness and a Bachelor’s Degree in health and physical education. Eva soared professionally but her journey wasn’t without challenges.
“I was diagnosed with Keinbocks disease many years ago and as a result, I have always had to make changes to how I do many exercises. In fact, I was classed medically unfit as I lost the full range of movement in my right wrist when I was in the Army.”
But Eva didn’t quit; she adapted.
“Since then, I’ve had to adjust how I do exercises. I do all of my push-ups and burpees on my knuckles, and I am very limited in how heavy I can go with lifting weights. Keinbock’s has never stopped me because I believe if there is a will there is a way.”
Eva understands how busy life can be for aging women but she still encourages an active lifestyle.
“What’s important is trying not to do it all at once. Set small goals. Don’t start with a marathon straight away. Instead, start with a 5km fun run and work towards the bigger goal. I feel some women try to do too much too soon and burn out or give up because it seems hard. We have a lot going on when we reach 40 and we need to balance things out, so we need to be kind to ourselves. I also think we need to celebrate every goal within fitness. For instance, celebrate turning up to each session, celebrate your personal records, and celebrate reaching your goals. Thank yourself for making time for you!”
• Eva for Brazilian jiujitsu and fitness classes runs online group fitness and personal training sessions by request through HUA Fitness (@huafitness).
Sarah Gage: The HIIT Maker
Sarah Gage is a 47-year-old jack of all trades offering indoor cycling, HIIT, netball, softball, touch rugby and circuit training.
“Sport has always been a major part of my life and I had always attended gyms and group fitness classes in-between playing sports,” she explains, adding it has been “a lifelong dream to do what I love and inspire others along the way, albeit at this stage of my life”.
As a certified LesMills trainer in Body Pump and RPM, her goal is to inspire, motivate and educate people of any age to achieve their best results.
“I’m especially passionate about helping women overcome their health and fitness challenges. When I turned 40 I had to totally change the way I exercised. I had a child and gained a lot of weight, which resulted in gestational diabetes and osteoarthritis in my hip. I then decided to run miles to lose weight, which resulted in plantar faciitis and slowed my recovery even more. That’s when I signed up to become an RPM fitness instructor, because I knew I could get results without any harsh impact on my body. Once I was certified, I was hooked and wanted to train in Body Pump and Body Balance too.”
Sarah is is always there to motivate clients as she believes wholeheartedly that consistency is the key.
“Everyones body responds differently with age. Listen to your body and nurture it with love, balance and essential nutrients. You can achieve your health and fitness goals by consistently keeping active and focused on your desired results. Group fitness classes are fun and great for motivation and sharing your journey with others”, says Sarah.
Cindy Khoo: The Pilates Powerhouse
Cindy Khoo, a 50-year-old Pilates instructor who’s always been active, discovered Pilates as an adult in 2015 and has been committed to the practice ever since.
“I didn’t initially set out to become a Pilates instructor,” she admits. “In fact, at the time I was carrying extra weight that crept up over the years and it was making me feel unhealthy. Initially, I wasn’t the most flexible person in class and I couldn’t execute many of the exercises, but with Pilates it doesn’t matter. I celebrated little achievements each week and diligently attended classes. I was intrigued by how great I felt after each Pilates session, and from there my interest grew and I wanted to learn more about this unique method of working out. I want to share my passion for Pilates and to get people moving for their health and well-being.”
Cindy started Pilates training in 2019 and currently holds an Active IQ Level 3 diploma in Instructing PIlates Matwork (UK) via BodyHack Fitness Education. She has also completed training to work with clients who have scoliosis and she is currently undertaking further training with through the BASI Pilates Comprehensive Global program.
For Cindy, Pilates truly embodies the realms of mind, body and spirit working together in unison.
“I work with the body in front of me, understanding that each person is unique. Each client works to their level, and where appropriate I will challenge them accordingly as they become stronger and more adept. It gives me enormous satisfaction to be a facilitator for mindful movement and I am always open to self-improvement, so that I can be an even more effective instructor.”
Cindy believes there’s no age limit on getting fit.
“In my own experience, taking up running very late in my life, practicing Pilates made me more aware of my body and that awareness helped me make better choices with regards to my own health and well-being. I stayed away from fad diets and quick fix solutions. It was a gradual process that took a few years in the making,” she says.
If you try it and discover that Pilates is not the exercise for you, Cindy suggests you keep moving.
“It can be as simple as going for regular walks. Find something you enjoy doing and if you have a friend then do it together as the accountability helps in being consistent. You need to carve out the time to work out and find every reason to incorporate it into your daily life. Take the stairs instead of the lift, park your car a little further from the entrance to the supermarket so you need to walk a little more”.
• Cindy offers a variety of classes with and without props. You can schedule group or private sessions with her on Instagram via @pilates_mindbody
Gada Shaikli: The Spartan
At 43, Gada Shaikli is still running things.
The obstacle course race athlete and runner was inspired to become a fitness coach by discovering a love for health and wellbeing along her own fitness journey.
“I wanted to help and inspire others in the way that I was. I also wanted to gain more in-depth knowledge about a subject I am passionate about”, she says.
She earned her first Level 2 certificate in 2018 and obtained Level 3 certification a year later. She also received a pre/post natal certificate and SGX (Spartan obstacle course) certification. Gada is living proof that fitness can be achieved at any age.
“Throughout my fitness journey, I have proven to the world that age is just a number,” she says. “If you put in the work, anything is possible and I’m just getting started. I have many more goals to smash and records to break. As a Middle Eastern woman who started her fitness journey at the age of 39, I was expecting to face alot of criticism and judgments. Surprisingly it was the complete opposite. The amount of support and respect I received from the community was tremendous and I am extremely grateful for that.”
To any women over for who might be struggling to get or stay fit, Gada offers practical advice.
“Love and believe in yourself. Make yourself a priority. Never compare yourself to others. Surround yourself with positive, like-minded people and take it one day at a time”.
• Gada is currently training for a few races, so she is not coaching at the moment, but you can connect with her on Instagram via @gadagetfit.