A 67-year-old bodybuilder who started exercising in her 50s shares 4 things she's learned about getting fit at any age

A 67-year-old bodybuilder who started exercising in her 50s shares 4 things she's learned about getting fit at any age
  • Marlene Flowers didn't start bodybuilding until she was in her 60s.

  • Now, at 67, she's a fitness influencer and can do 140 push-ups in a row.

  • Being patient and having the right mentality helped her get fit later in life, she said.

At 57, Marlene Flowers' knees hurt when she walked up and down hills. Now, almost 10 years later, she can leg press over 200 pounds.

Flowers told Business Insider that life has been tough: She had been in difficult relationships and had struggled with eating disorders.

In 2015, she had colon surgery for problems related to her eating disorders. "That's when I realized I had to turn things around and change, because I was destroying my body," she said.

At 58, she started exercising at home, following along with fitness DVDs. As she got stronger, she began incorporating weights into her home workouts and fell in love with lifting weights.

The DVDs quickly became too easy, so Flowers started bodybuilding at home to keep pushing herself.

Flowers wanted to go to the gym to take her workouts to the next level but was worried people would judge a woman of her age. With the encouragement of her son, she overcame her fear and worked out at the gym for the first time when she was 63 years old.

Now, almost four years after first stepping foot in a gym, she can do 140 push-ups, 25 pull-ups, or 100 sit-ups in one go. She does ab exercises as soon as she wakes up every morning, goes to the gym seven days a week, and is on a "carb cycling" diet, which she hopes will improve her performance.

Flowers said she will continue lifting weights as long as it makes her feel good.

"I feel so much more self-confident and better about myself. I can look in the mirror and I'm happy with what I see, which is something I couldn't do all my life," she said.

Marlene Flowers flexing her biceps.
Flowers started bodybuilding in her 50s.Marlene Flowers

Flowers believes everyone should do something to stay fit. "If you can stay physically fit, you'll be healthier in the long run, live a longer life, and it's great for your mind," she said.

A 2023 study found that older adults often think they can't do resistance training because they have mobility issues or fear they'll hurt themself. But building and maintaining muscle mass is beneficial for people of any age because it combats the loss of muscle that occurs over time, known as sarcopenia. In the long term, sarcopenia can make it harder to carry out everyday tasks and increase the likelihood of falls.

A 2022 study found that resistance training was linked to 9% lower mortality rates; mortality rates fell by 41% when participants also did cardio exercises.

Flowers shared four things she's learned about getting fit at any age.

Mentality is the most important part of getting fit

Flowers said that her determination to get fit was the biggest thing that helped her achieve it.

"You have to have the desire and the drive inside your head and in your heart," she said. "It doesn't matter what you're doing or what your goals are, but you need to get started in order to form a habit."

Experts agree that it takes a lot of repetition to form a habit, and BI's Rachel Hosie previously wrote that you need to build fitness into your lifestyle for it to stick.

Diet is important for muscle growth

Flowers noticed that what she ate had the biggest impact on her body.

She said that even if you're doing the "perfect" workout, "you're not going to grow muscle if you're not eating what you need to eat for your goals."

Jamie Wright, a registered nutritionist, previously told BI that eating lots of protein is important for building muscle and losing belly fat, while adding carbohydrates to meals can provide more energy for workouts.

Marlene Flowers posing in a doorway.
Flowers is now a fitness influencer under the moniker 'Granny Guns.'Marlene Flowers

Don't rush

Progress happens slowly, Flowers found.

"You don't want to overdo it because you can hurt yourself, and then you just put yourself back," she said. "It's taken me quite a bit of time to get to where I am, but with time, persistence, and discipline, you can accomplish anything you put your mind to."

Kristin Haraldsdottir, the director of exercise research and innovation for Hydrow, previously told BI that it can take 12 weeks to see the results of strength training to build muscle. She recommended training three times a week and increasing the weight for quicker progress — but taking a full day of rest between workouts.

Embrace community

In addition to helping her get fit, weightlifting helped Flowers meet the friends she calls her "fit family" at the gym. She's now a fitness influencer who goes by "Granny Guns."

"They are the friends that I didn't have all my life because I was isolated with my husbands and work," she said. "I love being part of that group. It's a community. It makes me feel good, and it gives me the confidence to keep going. They are very, very supportive."

Exercising with friends is a great way to motivate yourself because it provides accountability and the pleasures of socializing, Daniel Lieberman, a Harvard paleoanthropologist and the author of a book on exercise, previously told BI.

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