The Golden Girls

When they signed up, the “girls” were aged 53 to 62 years and had varying levels of fitness.

Wendy Howe and Jenny Warburton already knew each other and Chris Warwick and Debbie Baird signed up individually.

At the time, all they had in common was that they feared they were becoming couch potatoes and were keen to do something about it.

Chris had always been an elite athlete, so the challenge was welcomed.  For the others, there were mixed emotions. 

Wendy, the oldest of the group, had spent many years bushwalking but had never seriously trained at a gym. 

Jenny and Debbie had some exercise experience, but nothing compared with what the challenge would bring.

The four soon teamed up and before long, they had become known as the Golden Girls.

The name stuck and so have they, turning an eight-week challenge into an eight-year life-changing fitness program that has also forged friendships.

In the first training session, their personal trainer John Ward, asked Wendy how she was going. 

He describes her blank look as being a bit scary and said she subsequently collapsed into his arms.

Wendy, at 70, is now intimidating, lifting twice the weights of other youngsters in the gym. Part of the challenge was to run 1.6km – Jenny describes it as being a struggle which took her 12 minutes. 

The run inspired them though, and they took it up as a regular activity.  Within six weeks they had significantly reduced their times and they haven’t stopped since.

They continued their workouts with their trainer, lifting weights, cardio fitness, and gym classes as well as swimming and water aerobics. Jenny, who is now 67, said when she started she was unfit and overweight.

“Now I am 7kg lighter, feeling fit, healthy and toned,” she says. “When I started running my heart rate would go up to 190, now I’m averaging 148 just by improving my fitness.”

The four run and exercise six days a week and have competed in a variety of events including the Noosa Marathon, Gold Coast Fun Run and the City to Surf in Sydney. 

They regularly participate in Park Runs, with Chris, 63, being rated in the top 10 per cent of competitors in the world for her age division.

The girls continue to train with Ward at Invigorate Gym.  He has been there from the start and continually encourages and challenges them to achieve more. And they love it.

Their goal is to run 1000 km in one year. 

They have also set their sights on the Mudgee Wine race which includes wine tastings along the way.

The Golden Girls also raise money for charity – the Butterfly Foundation, an organisation which offers support for those with eating disorders.

They plan to do more fundraising in 2019 and for this group of Baby Boomers, the sky is the limit.

Image caption: The Golden Girls, from left, Chris, Wendy, Jenny and Debbie at the gym with trainer John Ward.