LEXINGTON, Ky. (WDKY)– A group of determined older adults heads to Crossfit Maximus many times a week, ready to put some muscle into their mornings. But the class is not complete until the most dedicated member arrives.
Over the past year, Sue Westerman has become the greatest advocate for the gym’s “Stronger Life” program.
“It makes me feel really good. They’re calling me ‘Super Sue,'” she said.
Sue had never used free weights until about a year ago, but at age 73, she found about these classes for adults 50 and older and decided to give it a try. Now, she almost never misses a class.
“I try to come five days a week,” she said. “I look forward to coming to class even though I’m huffing and puffing at the end.”
Sue’s first visit to Stronger Life Fitness came in early 2020, a few weeks after she lost her her husband to renal disease. She said she had neglected her own health after a knee replacement and during her time as a caregiver.
“And I started thinking I needed to do something about my own health. I’ve got three boys and I didn’t want my boys losing me to something I could do something about.”
She likes these classes because the instructors are also physical therapists. They know how to modify workouts to fit the participants.
“Age is a factor we consider, but it is usually low on the list of factors we consider when we’re trying to get people stronger,” said Dr. Dustin Jones, a physical therapist who is also one of the program’s two coaches. He said the majority of people who come to the classes designed for those 50 and older have never lifted weights before and are relieved to find they aren’t the only “beginners.”
“Super Sue” is the definition of small but mighty.
“My personal record for the dead lift is 125 pounds and I weigh 118,” she laughs.
These seniors say the pandemic has made them think more about their health than ever. In fact, Sue says these classes are probably what helped her get through a year that has been isolating. The program not only helped her get stronger, it introduced her to a new group of friends.
“We encourage each other,” she said. “It’s not a competition.”
“With Sue, the amazing part has been not only the change physically, but mentally as well,” Jones said. “It’s very impressive.”
Classmates say Sue makes everyone want to step up their game.
“Well, it’s intimidating (to workout next to her),” said classmate Lucie MacDonald. “But with our little family, it’s a blast.”
This program encourages older Americans to raise the bar, and if the bar has some weight on it, that’s even better.
Sue has simple advice for anyone who may be considering such as class: “Give it a try. You’ve got nothing to lose but your flab.”