I was watching the Dufour-Lapointe family in an interview after sisters Chloe and Justine won the gold and silver medals in women’s moguls skiing. Can you imagine? Two medals in one family for the same event. Their parents must be gushing with pride, but sat quietly and humbly behind their beautiful daughters. When asked about their role models, Justine the youngest, turned to her left, to the third and oldest skiing sister, Maxine and credited her for being such a wonderful role-model, always dedicated to the sport and showing her to never give up, even when things seemed too daunting to achieve.
This made me think of my fitness role model, my sister Francine. Unbeknownst to Fran, she was my first fitness role model. Francine brought heavyweights Rachel Mclish, Cory Iverson and Gladys Portuguese into our home. Muscle and Fitness magazine became regular reading material on top of our coffee table. Pumping Iron, The Women, was the first time I had seen such power and strength as the ladies got ready for a bodybuilding competition in this docudrama that showcased all the sweat, work and tears. Francine embraced weight training full force, and joined the powerhouse facility Gold’s gym. She trained, and trained hard with some big boys I might add. As months passed, I noticed Francine’s arms become “bumpy.” That is what I called muscles back then, but keep in mind, I was a cardio junkie, hooked on being skinny and weighing 100 pounds. One could not help but notice the transformation in Francine’s body, and as she began to effortlessly carry grocery bags from the car and could now open jam and peanut butter jars for me with ease. Although I myself didn’t weight train at the time, I still admired the changes and strength I observed in her physique.
The years passed, various priorities developed, work, home, family, night class, life in general and Francine stopped training. Now, with a clean bill of health she is ready to return to this great sport. Just last week she stopped thinking about exercising again, and started doing and joined my gym. We worked out together this past Saturday. We did a leg workout, and I could see she felt slightly reluctant in the beginning, but I could also see the spark and love for this sport that was still very much alive in her.
Tips for starting exercise and getting back into shape:
1. Remember to warm up before a workout. Start with a light rowing, cycling or walking to get the muscles warm.
2. Hire a trainer for your initial workouts. If you are not able to, always ask gym staff if unsure about the use of equipment. Remember, safety comes first. You can also ask a member who has been lifting a long time for assistance. Most people are only happy to help out.
3. Do not jump right back in full force if you haven’t trained for a long period, although you may want to or feel you can manage. It is better to begin slow and light to increase your strength, stamina and endurance. Francine got familiar with the equipment, tried some things out, and only did a few light reps. For example, she did squats on the smith machine with no weight, just to familiarize herself again with form, breathing and stance.
4. Be sure to stretch after your workout to prevent soreness. Although, I think it is impossible to avoid muscle soreness when starting anew. Taking a pain-killer before bed, soaking in a warm bath of Epsom salts or a
stiff drink I mean, rest and recovery the day after will help to alleviate some soreness.
And finally, be awesome. We are all on our personal Olympics of reaching our goals and striving to stand on that podium of life. If you have the time to click on the link above, and read her brave story, you will see how Francine reminds me everyday that things in life are daunting, scary and uncertain. However, I truly believe that with faith in God, family and strength, we can face life’s curve balls with courage……and lifting.
Francine, back in the gym and doing great: