So much of the fitness industry seems targeted at young people.

And if you’re a little bit older than the average gym-goer, it can be intimidating to walk into a fitness facility and only see people who are young enough to be your child…or grandchild.

But staying fit as you age is important for so many reasons.

It can help you to:

  • Keep your bones healthy and strong
  • Manage your risk of developing chronic diseases
  • Preserve muscle
  • Lower your risk of falls

Among many other things.

And if you’re a woman of a certain age, then you may not have grown up with the idea that women can go to the gym, and lift weights due to a fear of becoming “too muscular”.

Today, we’re going to shatter some of these ideas about working out, and share the stories of six incredibly fit women – all over the age of 70 – some who you’ve definitely heard of, and others whose names you probably don’t know yet.

Get ready to be inspired by their stories.

1. Joan MacDonald: “Fit-Fluencer” At 76

When you think of the words “fitness influencer” what immediately comes to mind?

Someone who is young, and probably naturally slim, regardless of how much time they spend in a gym?

Or someone with huge muscles, who never leaves the gym?

What about a 76 year old woman, who really only started working out seriously in the last few years?

That’s the story of Joan MacDonald, who at the age of 70, was faced with the choice of needing to up her dosages of medications for high cholesterol and high blood pressure, unless she made a major life change.

Working with her daughter Michelle, a professional powerlifter, Joan started weight lifting, walking regularly for cardio, and practicing yoga.

Now, sixty pounds lighter and no longer requiring medications for cholesterol and blood pressure, she shares insight into her workouts on her popular @TrainWithJoan Instagram account.

2. Ernestine Shepherd: The 86 Year Old Bodybuilder

Ernestine Shepherd may be the world’s oldest female competitive bodybuilder, but she hasn’t always been interested in fitness and working out.

Thirty years ago, at the age of 56, she was bathing suit shopping, and not entirely happy with what she saw in the mirror.

She knew she needed to get into shape, and together with her sister, joined a gym.

Sadly, her sister would die soon after, and following a mourning period, Shepherd would return to the gym, with a new determination to get in shape.

Today, Shepherd teaches exercise classes for seniors and also works as a personal trainer, helping others meet their goals and improve their lives.

3. Johanna Quaas: Still Balancing On Parallel Bars At 96

Born in Hohenmölsen, Germany, in 1925, Johanna Quaas started practicing gymnastics at the age of nine in 1934, and she’s still going strong today.

Since 2012 she’s held the Guinness World Record for being the World’s Oldest Gymnast.

Quaas has had many ups and downs in her career, including living through a period where gymnastics was banned in East Germany during World War 2, during which she practiced handball instead, and in 2016 she even tried her hand at skydiving.

Just like the rest of us, Johanna wants to stay young – in November 2021 on what was actually her 96th birthday, she celebrated turning 95, because her 95th birthday party was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

4. Suzanne Somers: Still Using A ThighMaster at 75

Oh, the 90s.

If you’re old enough to remember the age of crop tops and platform shoes, preppy matching sets à la Clueless, and grunge looks inspired by the likes of Pearl Jam and Nirvana, then you likely also remember Suzanne Somers and the ThighMaster.

Whether you had one of these in your home, or just saw the infomercials, the claims were that the ThighMaster could “firm and tone your inner thighs” among other things.

Nearly thirty years later, Somers is fitter than ever.

She has shared with Prevention magazine she practices yoga every other day, and it’s helped her to retain strength and flexibility and avoid bone loss.

She also walks daily, uses the elliptical machine, and yes – she still uses her ThighMaster every day.

5. Cher: Strong Enough at 76

Sometimes when I see Cher in an appearance on television or in a movie, I find it hard to Believe she’s been performing for over fifty years.

Still looking fit as ever, Cher shared details of how she stays looking young with Prevention magazine.

At the top of this list, she says she works “twice as hard” in the gym, and has a trainer who pushes her.

Her routine includes yoga, Zumba, ab exercises and wall sits, among other things.

6. Jane Fonda: Fabulous at 84

Where do we even start when talking about Jane Fonda?

Her list of accomplishments, awards and nominations is so extensive it has its own Wikipedia page.

In a 2021 interview she talked about how she stays fit, even as her age creeps higher.

Her home video “The Jane Fonda Workout”, and the accompanying book of the same name was one of the best-selling workout programs in the early 1980s, and Fonda remains active to this day.

She spilled the tea that she does it by walking every day, and also enjoying cross country skiing, resistance training, and yoga.

I’m Inspired – So What Now?

If reading these stories has inspired you to get more active, then you’ll need to make a plan.

Always check with your doctor before starting a new exercise routine, especially if you have any health conditions or complications.

And while you may not be quite ready to hop on the parallel bars like Johanna Quaas or take up competitive bodybuilding like Ernestine Shepherd, maybe you still have your old ThighMaster collecting dust in your closet.

Or you can pop in a Jane Fonda workout DVD, or dance around your house singing along to Cher.

The FitIn platform has many more options for both virtual and in person fitness classes, something to suit every need and interest.