Today’s Empower Experience is brought to you by the one, the only, mighty Iron Dam.  Athlete extraordinaire, Iron Dam joined Empower five years ago and has not looked back.

Beastor, a former member visited last week and was blown away when he dropped in and saw Iron Dam blasting through a get-up and rowing for calorie work-out.  “Wow,” he said.  “I last saw her three years ago, she is so strong and fit!” He then shared his observation with her.  Way to keep it going Iron Dam!  Through thick and thin you have prevailed.  We love having you at Empower. You are a true inspiration to us all.  Read on for her tale as she tells it best!

Prior to 2010 I was pretty fit.  I rode a couple of horses every day, swam three times a week, and grew a lot of my own food.  In 2009 we bought a larger property in Southlands to run our riding school and we increased the size of our market garden.  We built a new barn, office, manure shed, planted more fruit trees and berry bushes. We also acquired two milking goats.  For the next 6 years I had very little time to ride or do anything other than try to pay the mortgage.  The goats produced 6 litres of milk a day, from which I made cheese or sold (raw or pasteurized.)  We added farm camps to our pony camps, grew and sold more fruit, veggies, jam, and eggs and taught riding lessons.   Despite working really hard, I put on a couple of pounds a year, so by 2016 my jeans were much too tight!  My son Telf had also put on weight (he has my tendency to gain pounds easily).  So, for Christmas, I bought us two memberships to CrossFit (Empower).

Tasha had been raving about Corey (owner of Empower) for a couple of years already, so it was on her urging that I decided to try CrossFit, even though both my doctor and physio said it was a really bad idea!  (Since 1995 I had been having excruciating back spasms every few weeks, with no known cause and in 2005 I had both hips resurfaced.)

In the beginning I was definitely a “back row” person.  I participated regularly, 3 times a week, but was not expecting to enjoy it.  What is the point of “working out?”  I would rather run, or swim, or play basketball or frisbee or softball, or ride a horse, or weed the garden, than work out just for the sake of it.  But Corey was so encouraging.  He made no allowances for my age or ineptitude, treated me just like everyone else.  He was never condescending.   Gradually (as happens with anything you do regularly) I became addicted.  I never missed a day unless I was out of town.  But somehow, I hurt my shoulder.  Hopefully it wasn’t shoulder presses, just old age?   I still went to the gym, but I could only use one arm o row, do ring rows and lift things.  Finally in 2018 I had a total shoulder replacement.  And a month after that I had one of my hips replaced again.  (The 2005 resurfacing worked perfectly on one hip but not on the other. There was a class action on that, but I missed out on it).  Arthritis is a pain!

After all my new body parts, and with an opioid patch for pain, I was good to go.  I have been to the gym every Monday, Wednesday and Friday no matter what.  More often would not be good, I need recovery time.   I finally got a smartphone and began logging my workouts, which is a good thing to do because I can tell if I am improving or not.  I can also see that I compare favourably with people half my age in some things!

What do I like about CrossFit?

  • I like that despite my age I can keep up with others on some exercises (running, rowing, deadlifts).
  • I like that there are scaled versions of everything, so I don’t feel totally incompetent.
  • I like that I am treated the same as everyone else.
  • I like that every day is different.
  • I like that there is cardio (which I prefer) and not just strength workouts.
  • I like the detailed explanations of the body mechanics of the different exercises.
  • I like that Corey is strict about attendance and staying to the end of the class.
  • I like the “family inclusive” culture with an age range from teenager to me, with most people in the middle.

While there are not many exercises, I am actually getting BETTER at, at least I am not getting worse! A big breakthrough was that I can now skip!  At first, I just could not jump high enough to skip even once, but now my new personal record (PR)  is 200 unbroken single unders.   Since my shoulder has healed, I can now do 8 pound wall balls.   And I have noticed that my balance has improved A LOT.  My periodic back spasms have diminished to only a couple a year (is it the opioids or the improved core strength?)  At first, I didn’t lose any weight, though, but I changed my diet in 2020 and have now lost 20 pounds.  My husband is vegan/vegetarian, and I can eat forever and not feel full on his diet.  So, I stopped with the pasta and beans and now eat more animal protein.  But only “ocean wise” fish, and animals that have only had one bad day.  (Organic, free range, humanely slaughtered).  I also totally cut out chocolate, chips, and ice cream.  (Alcohol too, at first, but that is now reinstated.)

Last month I participated on the “Its Five O’clock Somewhere” team.  The others on the team were very encouraging and helped me with the scaled versions.  I felt part of the team and very supported.  It was actually fun.  I might possibly do it again.

My goal is to keep coming to the gym as long as I can.   Will I look ridiculous at age 85, or 90?   As long as Corey keeps encouraging me, I will try.