Thought of Morjorie Newlin this morning. A picture of her at age 86 is attached.
Yes, age 86.
I’ve received this same photo from friends a number of times over the years, and the woman who tightens my locs keeps the Jet magazine photo of Ms. Newlin on her refrigerator, as a reminder of what’s possible.
Backstory: Morjorie Newlin, a nationally celebrated senior body-builder died in January 2008 from complications of leukemia. She didn’t even start weight training until she was 72 years old, and the next year placed first in the Mid-Atlantic USA competition. Over the next 15 years, she won more than 40 trophies for her bodybuilding feats.
Maybe you’ve seen her on Oprah. Or The View. In the pages of Jet magazine. On someone’s refrigerator door or as an email attachment.
I was reminded of Ms. Newlin while working out on the resistance machines this a.m. There was an older black woman of an indeterminate age on the hip adduction machine right next to me.
And she set the pin fully 80 pounds heavier than I usually do.
Remember, I said OLDER. I was being polite. Girlfriend could have been in her 60s, maybe even 70. A senior citizen. Her skin was smooth, like my mother’s, making it impossible to guess her real age. I wanted to ask her, but didn’t. (My mother is 30 years older than I, but appears to be getting younger each year. I figure by the time I’m 60 we’ll look like twins.)
This was the only woman I’d ever witnessed setting the pin at higher weights than I do. She also only stayed on the machine maybe 20 seconds compared to my maybe three minutes or so.
She looked lean and very fit, and had a few rollers peeking out from under her scarf, which told me how much she valued other people’s opinions. She was no Morjorie Newlin, but looked healthier than most of us breaking sweats this a.m.
I’m very sore from my workout, and I know tomorrow I’m going to be in a world of hurt because I pushed myself extra hard today, and baked myself in the sauna extra long.
I was going for endurance. Stamina. Longevity.
When you become senile, you won’t know it. ~ Bill Cosby
Leslie J. Ansley is an award-winning journalist and entrepreneur who blogs daily for TheRoot. She lives in Raleigh, NC.