‘I Started Strength Training At 58, And These 3 Changes Were Key For My Transformation’

granny guns strength transformation at 66
How This 66-Year-Old Hit A 170-Pound Leg Press PRChristine Giordano / Marlene Flowers

I was physically fit as a teenager, but after two toxic marriages, my confidence, body image, and self-worth were shot. As a result, I struggled with an eating disorder and it damaged part of my colon to the point that I required surgery. After reparative surgery and a stint in the hospital, I knew it was time for a change. I wanted to live longer and happier.

I started my fitness journey in 2015, at 58, when most people are slowing down. My son, Ryan, became my trainer and started me on a keto diet and Beachbody at-home workouts. Overall, I felt weak, and my knees killed me when I first began. But after a few consistent weeks of building strength, my aches and pains disappeared.

At-home workouts were my go-to for four years. Then, Ryan suggested I join a gym to expand my fitness regimen and unlock potential. Honestly, it took time to build confidence. I wasn’t used to working out with other people and frankly, I was uncomfortable. But I’m so proud I toughed it out.

Now, you can’t keep me out of the gym.

Once I joined a gym at 62, I was able to channel trauma into strength training and unlock my true potential.

I always wanted to be happy, but with abusive partners and a lack of support, I struggled to achieve it. However, I quickly found an escape in the gym. I learned to push forward by focusing on myself and channeling my energy into strength and progress.

To hold myself accountable, I wake up every morning and do 15 to 20 minutes of abs exercises. Not only does it make me feel strong, but it sets my day up for success.

Around noon, I head to the gym with Ryan. I train seven days a week and start every workout with 15 minutes on the elliptical. Due to my existing shoulder and foot injuries, the elliptical is low impact enough to circulate blood flow and warm my muscles without causing pain.

I do strength training and organize my workouts to hit a different body part every day. Typically, I train lower body twice a week, and dedicate one day each to chest, back, arms, and shoulders. I have one day of light cardio on the elliptical, bike, or rower.

Back is my favorite muscle to train, but I also enjoy leg day because it’s a challenge. Lower body has always been my weak spot, but I focus on the progress I've made. Whether it’s an extra rep or increase in weight, my goal is to get a little bit stronger each day. Today, I can knock out 110 pounds on a lat pulldown and 170 pounds on a leg press.

After struggling with restrictive eating, I finally learned to fuel my body properly.

Body image has always been a struggle for me, and I battled a severe eating disorder for years. With the guidance of my son, I learned proper nutrition was key to not only fueling my workouts and energy levels, but also living longer.

I ditched diet cola and processed snacks and focused on filling my plate with whole foods, with a particular emphasis on increasing protein and limiting sugar. I love eggs, oatmeal, fish, lean beef, and lots and lots of veggies (cauliflower will always be my favorite). Post-workout, I also drink a protein shake, which has been key for muscle gains and recovery.

As soon as I fed and nourished my body properly, my energy levels skyrocketed. I was less lethargic, mentally sharper, and overall stronger in my workouts.

Finding a supportive community gave me the family I needed.

Most of my life, I was unhappy and missing support. I didn’t feel like I was good enough for anybody, and my two marriages really tore me down. After falling in love with the gym, I also connected with the most incredible fit fam.

I started posting my journey on Instagram and quickly went viral. I became known as the internet's grandma (Granny Guns), with strangers calling me their inspiration. Because of my age, men and women online and in the gym tell me they’re impressed with my commitment, drive, and strength transformation. For the first time in my life, I felt important.

With passion and drive, I stayed committed to my journey and now, at 66, I’m the oldest person in the country to become a sponsored athlete. Today, I’m sponsored by YoungLA, Ryse Supplements, and Village Hidden In Iron, and I’m so proud of myself. It’s really a dream come true.

Through this empowering community, I’ve also met some of my role models like Arnold Schwarzengger, Noel Deyzel, and Ronnie Coleman who have provided me with endless support and encouragement. Aside from affectionately calling me Granny, I know they’re rooting for me and always have my back. Their recognition of my journey fills me with a sense of purpose and motivates me to push my boundaries, while inspiring others to do the same.

Not to mention, the comments I receive online are so positive. I went from having no support, to all the support in the world. To be honest, I’ve never been happier.

My next goal is to get my bodybuilding pro card.

I never imagined I’d be a bodybuilder, but last year I took a leap of faith and competed in two shows. I was the oldest competitor in every category, so it definitely took a lot of confidence. I felt like I belonged, and I was so proud of myself.

That experience inspired me to work toward my bodybuilding pro card. Along with intense training and a more restrictive diet so my muscles show, it’s going to take a lot of concentration and focus. I know I’m ready for it. I’ve gotten this far and I love a good challenge.

These three things were key to my strength transformation.

1. I learned to prioritize myself through strength training.

You can’t forget trauma, but you can forgive it and move on. Fitness has taught me that I’m worthy, and watching my body transform allowed my mind to transform with it. Nothing is holding me back, and with my physical and mental transformation, I know my strength is limitless. I have a new lease on life and I’m just getting started.

2. I connected with community to support my training and keep me motivated.

Between my gym, Instagram community, and YoungLA network, I’ve connected with an incredible group of athletes who embrace my journey and celebrate this lifestyle. Plus, watching other athletes crush their goals is motivation to keep going and push harder. This is my second chance on life and the fact I get to share my journey with others is pretty special. I have more support than I could have ever dreamed.

3. I use my challenging past as motivation for a stronger future.

Life has not been without challenge, but I know it made me stronger to get where I am today. Instead of dwelling on my past, I use it as motivation.

My journey is a testament to the power of perseverance, because it’s never too late! At 66, my age is just a number. It’s not a limitation, but rather a badge of honor that I proudly wear.

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