by Bobby Anderson
In a world where seniors often decide it’s time to sit back and relax on a bench, 51-year-old Christy Hadley is working on improving how much she can bench.
During the day, Hadley works as an assistant secretary to the principal at Briarwood Elementary in Moore. But at night, a few mornings and nearly every weekend she’s running, lifting and having the time of her life.
“Age does not have to make you feel helpless,” Hadley said. “At 51 I think I feel fierce.”
The fierceness comes from Hadley’s five-year-love affair with Crossfit, a strength and conditioning program used by many police academies, tactical operations teams and even military special operations units.
Her husband, Rodney, doesn’t mind though. He does it right along with her as does son, Cody, and daughter, Cassidy.
Hadley became interested in Crossfit when her husband and son started at Crossfit Exile in Moore.
“The enthusiasm when you get there and the young people rallying around (is amazing),” Christy Hadley said. “I never felt like I was an outsider. I felt like they were pulling for me to reach the goals I set myself.”
Hadley admits it can be intimidating but the beauty of Crossfit training is that it meets each individual athlete where they are and builds from there.
Owner Andrew Nicholas meets with each new athlete and works out a progression plan. For many who walk into the gym it’s been quite some time since they last worked out.
But it’s the camaraderie of going through difficult things with others that hooked Hadley for life.
“It was the atmosphere and the support and cheering and rallying you get behind you,” Hadley said. “It was also coming to the realization that I’m getting ready to be in the prime of my life. This is what God has given me, now it’s up to me to see what I can do. It was pushing myself farther and seeing how much I could change myself.”
Last summer, Hadley let her husband post a picture of her in a bikini on Facebook for the first time. She’s also been known to rock the occasional miniskirt.
“I have more confidence at 51 than I ever had in my 20s or 30s,” Hadley said.
It’s that kind of confidence that Marcie Billen focuses on specifically with seniors at Exile’s sister gym, Norman Strength and Conditioning.
Her Silver Strength program is designed for ages 55 and up to improve energy levels, balance, flexibility, core strength, and quality of life. She has a passion for inspiring others to achieve their goals and extend their active years well into their 70s, 80s, 90s, and beyond.
Growing up an only child, Billen said she formed a close bond with her grandparents. In college she volunteered at Full Circle Adult Day Care.
She became a personal trainer to focus on seniors.
Her first client was 69.
“In strength training they have more balance and it comes with the fact that lifting weights you have to be able to balance the weight and stand up straight,” Billen said.
And with weight training comes increased bone density, something she’s sure to point out to clients.
The statistics back up the case for weightlifting, particularly in females
Women ages 65–69 who break a hip are five times more likely to die within a year than women of the same age who don’t break a hip, according to a Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research study funded by the National Institutes of Health.
This paper breaks down death risk by age group. In addition to the finding for women ages 65–69, it finds that for women ages 70–79, a hip fracture doubles the risk of dying within a year. Most women 80 and older have the same risk of dying within a year whether they fracture their hip or not, but for women 80 and older who are in excellent health, a hip fracture nearly triples the risk of dying within a year.
Billen says clients most often remark about increased energy levels after working out.
“Some of the stuff I heard them say is ‘I can garden for five hours now without getting tired,’ or they’re doing races with their grandchildren,” Billen says. “They’re excited about these every day tasks.
“It’s just exciting for me to see people take back control of their lives when, before, they thought they were on a path to the grave,” she said.