I’m really excited to introduce my dear friend, Lara, to all of you. Lara and I met through an online parenting group more than 12 years ago, and have seen each other through many life experiences, tragedies, joy and more than a few laughs. A few years ago, when in her late 40s, still with young children, she made a huge change to embrace health, fitness and started up her own business.
Lara is now a qualified fitness instructor, and her business offers Konga classes, boxing classes and more. Please do take the time to have a look at her Indie Fitness Facebook page, where she shares her stories, inspiration, recipes and more. I have asked Lara to try and find a bit of time in her busy life to contribute some fitness-related posts here at Alive In The Middle, so I thought it only fitting that you get to know a bit about her first.
Q1: So, Lara, tell us a bit about you, your background, family, what you’re up to these days
Hiya, I’m Lara, Mum to six kids, grandmother to one.
My background (other than parenting), is as a Sports massage therapist. I played at going to Uni but realised that working hands on with people was more my thing. When I was 36 my ovaries went into overdrive and I somehow found myself producing four more kids in quick succession (much to the horror of my two teens).
A major life event when I was 42 triggered grief followed by depression. This lead to about three years of me living in a fog of grey, drinking way too much, eating foods that weren’t great choices, and my weight ballooning up to 98.8kgs.
A friend literally dragged me to a local Bootcamp in 2013…. And the rest is history, as they say.
Q2: Many of us, me included, have thought about retraining or making major career changes in our 40s or older, what made you decide to study to become a fitness trainer at the age of 48?
Because I saw that there was a need for women my age to see strong confident and sexy fitness Instructors who weren’t the classic 55kgs, age 23, 100k followers on Instagram types. I looked and looked, but couldn’t find anyone. Sure, there are the 75 year olds “Aren’t they so cute for their age!” Influencers….. but your average 50 year old out there doing it, teaching classes, glowing with health…. Nope. It’s the classic Menopause Invisibility cloak that descends when we hit 45 plus!
Q3: What were the hardest parts of that retraining and subsequently setting up your own business as a Konga instructor?
My own self limiting beliefs. That I was too old, too unfit. I once went to a training session and heard a young 20 something say “Well if SHE can do it I sure as hell can!” Trust me, in the Fitness Industry, your ego takes many hits until you learn to brush it off!
On the practical side, having to learn and find my way with marketing and all that entails has been really hard. If I could afford to invest in a Mentor/Coach I definitely would. But it’s a chicken/egg scenario right now
Q4: Describe your overall style as a fitness instructor, and what you like to focus on, and how you handle training women of all ages, fitness levels and those with medical conditions.
Firstly, my style is just to be myself. To teach the kind of classes that Women my age can succeed at. Sure I can go all out and teach at a frenetic pace but that’s no good to the average Mum who is stepping into a class for the first time in years. The most important thing for her is that she knows that I get it. Then for me to show her modifications that she can do. Once she’s seen that the moves are easy for her to follow and do, BAM! She’s smiling, she’s having fun, and before she realises it, she’s dripping in sweat while working at her level. There’s nothing more satisfying than seeing that Woman nailing the class and walking out with the biggest grin on her face!
Q5: Tell me about some of the health / fitness challenges you’ve achieved
Honestly, the biggest one for me was at my very first bootcamp; it was a night training session filled with some amazing hard-core fitness people. The session was about running around a damn circle of people as fast as you could go. God I was soooo slow! Some of those fit bodies could walk faster than I could run. But on my final run the whole damn troop of them clapped and cheered me on!
Another huge achievement for me was competing in the Spartan Race here in Perth in April 2015. I swear that I had to do about 900 Burpees but I completed the race! And cried as I crossed the finish line.
As an older Fitness Instructor in young field (Dance Fitness) I have to face my own insecurities whenever I attend Instructor workshops. I don’t move like a 20 year old anymore. I have learned to only compare myself to myself. Look at the gains I have made and keep looking forward. It’s not easy sometimes; I still pine for that firmer taut body that will never be mine – reality check: I didn’t have it in my 20’s LOL. But I am stronger than I have ever been before and that’s pretty damn amazing!
Q6: How has doing all of the amazing things you’ve done changed you as a woman?
I’m way stronger emotionally now. I also tend to just get on with things and look for solutions rather than getting bogged down in despair.
Q7: What would your advice be to any women on here who are in their 40s, 50s or more, considering “re-inventing” themselves?
Just bloody do it! Who is going to stop you? Only yourself! Be brave, be fierce, be strong and LIVE. Never stop Living!
I can’t wait to start sharing posts by Lara, I know you’ll find them as empowering and inspirational as I find her.
Have you made any big life changes in mid-life? Are you considering any? Do share them with us in the comments below.