Fit, Focused and Feeling Invincible at Age 71
Thursday, December 13, 2018

Nancy Clarke‘s five-day-a-week workouts at the Center For Health & Fitness help her find strength in daily life and in caring for her husband with dementia

Seventy-one-year-old Nancy Clarke was fit and healthy; the Redondo Beach resident kept a slim figure and made time in her busy work schedule for long walks around her hilly neighborhood. But something was missing from her health regimen. After some discussion with her daughter who works in the fitness industry, Nancy decided she wanted to add more rigorous exercise to her routine and joined Beach Cities Health District’s Center for Health & Fitness (CHF) in 2015.

Around the gym, Nancy saw others doing personal training and decided to try it for herself. Turns out that leap of faith provided a mental and physical boost to her life that she’d never experienced before. She describes her trainer Stephen Dilag as one of the best things that has ever happened to her. In addition to her personal training, Nancy participates in Small Group Training and works out on her own. You’ll find her at CHF at least five days a week.

“I get a lift from my workouts that others get from coffee,” says Nancy. “I feel like I can jump tall buildings with a single bound!”

Being physically fit allows Nancy to assist her husband, who recently experienced a stroke and now suffers from dementia, including helping him with his at-home physical therapy exercises. More than anything, she says CHF gives her a mental break between work and going home that empowers her to feel like she can accomplish whatever challenges come her way.

Through exercise, specifically her sessions with Stephen that involve stretching, strength training and meditative therapeutic exercises, Nancy has alleviated severe neck and muscle pain in her legs. She now battles tendonitis in her shoulder, but it hasn’t stopped her. She’s started lifting weights, something she never dreamed of doing, recalling that the only things she’d lifted previously were bags of groceries and babies.

It’s safe to say Nancy is hooked on exercise and the camaraderie she feels around the facility. She’s got a healthy competition going with her small group training team and ongoing conversations with other members who also provide care to a family member. Nancy says being part of CHF has given her a positive window on life that she didn’t have before and it all started with her personal training sessions, where she challenged herself and realized what she was capable of achieving. The most important thing she’s learned from Stephen during their past two and a half years of working out together is mental strength, which is something she says she uses every day, whether at CHF or at home caring for her husband.

“I’ve found so much joy in movement and exercise,” she says. “CHF is a phenomenal place and I feel very fortunate to be here.”

Watch Nancy's honoree video for Spirit of Wellness 2019 here.