Sheila is 78 years old and probably more active than you.
“Sheila’s who you want to be when you grow up,” says Dave Tillman, Sheila’s coach and owner of CrossFit Cedar Park in Cedar Park, Texas.
If she doesn’t make it into the gym, Tillman says, it’s probably because she power-washed her driveway, “and her driveway’s like — I don’t know — a football field.”
Sheila does all the yard work on her property, mowing, taking care of weeds, cleaning a pond and reservoir system she has that collects water. She claims her love of being outdoors is part of what has kept her active.
“I think that’s what happens as [people] get older, even my age, they’re inside, and they’re not among people,” she says.
Sheila points out she wasn’t far from that path herself at one time. Diagnosed with a degenerated disc at a young age, she suffered from chronic back pain for 57 years. It was during a PT visit that she took her first step toward becoming pain free.
While on the table, she looked out the window across the street and saw a CrossFit gym. “I think when I grow up, I want to go over there,” she joked. But Tillman happened to be in the PT office that day. He said, “We’ll get you in there.”
Though Sheila was nervous when she started, especially after realizing she was the oldest person there, Tillman quickly put her at ease. He acknowledged her bone density and mobility issues, starting her with a PVC pipe to ensure movements were safe before building up in weight.
“This is the first time in my life … that I have not had back pain,” she says.
She thinks CrossFit is great for older people because you have a coach who can keep you on track with good form and safe movements.
She has a message for others who are considering CrossFit but are afraid due to pain or other limitations: “I’m not just this person who’s always been healthy and never had any issues … . I came from the same things that other people have that might cause you to just stop, but instead I said, ‘I’ve gotta keep going.’”
“I’m looking pretty good, I’m feeling good, and I’m staying younger,” she adds.