Inspiration at Any Age: 83 Year Old Ilene

Inspiration at Any Age
Written by Heather Hippensteel

Not too long after last year’s CrossFit Games, my friend told me about his 83 year old Aunt Ilene (whom he had recently helped move to San Diego), her love for fitness, and how he had showed her some videos from the 2015 CrossFit Games. He asked if I would be willing to come meet her as it would mean the world to her if I came. Her happiness when I arrived was awesome and I couldn’t stop smiling.

Where she lives now allows her access to fitness facilities, a pool, and a personal trainer. She has been in a wheelchair for a couple of years after breaking her hip, but for the first time, she has been able to start moving around and building strength. The pool has been perfect for her and she gets in the water every day to swim with her trainer. On my first visit with Ilene, with tears of joy, she told me that she was inspired after watching the CrossFit Games and has since been working out daily with a goal of walking again one day.

Her determination and drive to accomplish this at the age of 83 is nothing short of inspiring.

She walks in the pool, lifts dumbbells over her head, does “press-ups” in her wheelchair, stretches her tight hamstrings, and performs various other exercises with her trainer. It was fun to show her some CrossFit movements right there in her gym. She was thrilled to hear about how the CrossFit community is helping women realize that strong and healthy is beautiful. Her love for fitness started at a young age and continued throughout her life. She was a PE teacher for 30 years and she impacted many students during that time.

The second time I went to see her, she told me that she was getting stronger, but had to take a break from exercising for a few days because she had some swelling in her ankle. I told her we all have to take time off sometimes and that it’s best to let your body rest and heal. We sat in the cafe where she lives and talked about my training, our families, and a little of what I was reading in the Invictus Mindset. We can all benefit from strengthening our mental capacities and choosing to be positive even when things don’t go as planned is important for everyone.

I know that she is grateful for my visits, but I don’t know if she realizes what a blessing they are to me as well! The joy of doing something for other people, of giving back, is too often unknown or lost in a self-centered society. The simple act of sharing our time can go a long way in inspiring someone else. It takes the focus off of ourselves and our perceived problems, and allows us to shift it to someone else. Choosing to see beyond ourselves often brings great internal reward. No matter what you are or aren’t, you can inspire others just by being you. Thank you, Ilene, for inspiring me with your positive attitude, determination to reach your goals, and your joyful spirit.

Inspiration at Any Age: 83 Year Old Ilene

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Amber Nollen
Amber Nollen
March 1, 2016 5:31 pm

I absolutely love this! I have been an occupational therapist in my hometown nursing home for over 13 years. Things started to change as I got into crossfit, and even more so after I got my L1. I can attest to the fact that crossfit can be for EVERYONE. Constantly varied functional mvmts delivered at relative intensity 🙂 Instead of ball toss, its seated wall balls to a target (some do standing on balance foam!) Instead of the usual 3 sets of 10 blah, blah, blah, its varied by AMRAPS, and RFT and in couplets and triplets. My favorite is… Read more »