Patti and I head to the free weight area to take some pictures for her article, and it’s crowded. Iron’s pumping all around us, the sound of grunts and weight clinking echoes throughout, and the intimidation factor is alive and well. But it doesn’t seem to faze her one bit: she heads to her go-to machine, tightens her weightlifting gloves, and joins the iron pumping crowd as if she’s done this all her life. According to this 60-year-old, though, she hasn’t. Far from it, actually.
Growing up, Patti skied recreationally and did some horseback riding. “I was never an athlete on a team, though.” It wasn’t until the age of 52 that she began transforming her life with fitness. The need for change resulted at the culmination of stress: she was working all the time, had gained weight, and had a longer-term relationship that ended. She had been living a sedentary lifestyle for too long and finally looked at herself and decided that “things needed to change.”
Patti started by working with a personal trainer at another fitness facility. While she began seeing results, their schedules didn’t work well together, and she wanted to find a trainer with whom she could reliably schedule workouts. Patti came to HAC because of its vast amount of fitness offerings and, as she put it, “HAC had the best trainers.” As someone who likes to do things properly and “right,” she investigated her choices, chose HAC, and set out to work with someone who wouldn’t judge her on her age or being a female. Enter HAC Personal Trainer, Chris Dollard.
Fast forward eight years, and Patti Bartlett is a fitness fiend in the best shape of her life. “How did I go from a somewhat sedentary lifestyle and workaholic to [an athlete]? It takes commitment, hard work, and goals. In my case, HAC Master Personal Trainer, Chris Dollard gets due credit. He developed a diverse exercise program including High Intensity Interval Training, strength training, body weight exercise, plyometrics, isometric training, and equipment.”
Patti now makes working out a part of her routine. As a Product and Environmental Manager for a joint venture with DuPont and Hitachi Chemical in Japan, she juggles early morning and late night calls as well as oversea travels. Her coworkers know that her Thursday evenings are reserved for training with Chris, and that goes unchanged. “I never cancel sessions because of being tired or having a bad day. That is when I need exercise the most. Personal Training and workouts are on my calendar just like important meetings.” She now dabbles in everything from GRIT™, Box Fit, and Ski Fit to Tactical Training Self Defense (offered outside of HAC), and Chris’s newest Small Group Class, Unlock.
“At first, there was a learning curve. I don’t want to say an intimidation factor, but the first time I walked in the weight room, I was a newbie. You have to face some fears or insecurities in order to do it. You have to be willing to make some mistakes, too. Even now, Chris still asks things of me that I can’t quite do.”
Patti found that a large component of finding success with exercise is mental. “It’s a mindset. I had to really commit. I had to say, ‘I could work 24/7 with my job, but I’m not going to.’” Even now, Patti finds that success isn’t finite. “You can set goals, but you find that sometimes your body, your health, your schedule, and other things can come into play, so I don’t think working out is a straight line. It is a goal though, that you strive for, and sometimes there are setbacks, too.
I’m not without health issues. After being diagnosed with degenerative joint disease in my hip and lower back, my exercises support improvements to these areas. A recent injury due to a self-defense class caused a temporary setback. The 200 or so pound ‘assailant’ was brought down by me, but unfortunately he landed on my shoulder and my head bounced off the mat. Whiplash and spine issues are not just from car accidents. That is where Keith Glines, HAC MAT Specialist (Muscle Activation Therapy), for muscle imbalances or injuries is invaluable. I have a ‘season pass’ of sessions with Keith. ‘Sitting is the new smoking,’ and global assignments mean working day and night on the phone or computer. After long flights or grueling weeks, I schedule a session with Keith. He is now working on my neck and shoulder, and we have seen good improvement plus much less pain.”
From turning to exercise, Patti has found more than just physical benefits. “If you just want results, you are missing the best part. I love the workouts! My friendship with Chris and camaraderie with HAC members and staff make me want to come to the gym.” Being around people who are doing the same thing helps keep her motivated. “Here at HAC, everyone is positive and looking to help you be a better person, and it’s just the environment . . . They encourage me to be my best and likewise. Thanks, guys!”
As an avid downhill skier, she has gained a confidence in her favorite sport. “My skiing and stamina have improved, and so has my fun on and off the slopes.” After working with her, Chris developed HAC’s SGPT class Ski Fit. “Many [of my fellow] Wilmington Ski Club members have benefited, which makes me feel good.” She feels that being an athlete likely saved her life and someone else’s as well; while skiing, a friend of hers fell into a tree hole, and Patti was able to dig her out with the strength she’d gained thanks to her commitment to exercise. Now she even acts as the “sweeper” when skiing because she has the confidence and strength to do it.
Patti now feels better, stronger, and like an overall better person. “Part of your look is your personality and confidence. At 40, I didn’t feel very attractive. And I don’t mean that from a looks standpoint, I just didn’t feel that great about myself . . . I wasn’t as confident in my abilities. When you meet your goals working out, you meet your goals other places, too.” And though we talk about age, “really the point is, it’s not about age. I think it’s great I’m turning 60, but it has no bearing. Granted, as I age, I have to be a little more careful, but that’s why I have Chris. He makes sure we’re doing everything correctly.” In fact, during each personal training session, Chris goes through various corrective exercises, checking that everything is activated and focusing on those areas.
In further reflection of her age, Patti notes that “it’s not that I don’t care about what other people think, it’s just that it does not at all define me . . . As a 60-year-old, I’ve reached a point in my life where I want time to do more of the things that I want to do and enjoy, such as working out and having new experiences. I don’t want to have to say, ‘I have to somehow fit this in.’”
For Patti, “60 is a place where you should be reflecting on what you’ve accomplished and saying ‘how do I really want to make a difference?’ Whether it’s to family, to friends, to yourself, or to the world. I have some really big goals that I want to accomplish, and I need more free time to do that.”
For those just starting their journey, Patti stresses to remember that “limitations are more in the mind than in the body . . . It’s a road, it’s a journey, and you won’t get there overnight. It’s all about repetition and being proud of your progress, being able to look back and recognize that there were times when you couldn’t do what you’re doing now, and that’s a victory. If you haven’t used your two free Fitness Health Appraisals, schedule them. That started my journey to fitness. Personal Training makes an excellent gift. I’m not a paid spokesperson either. I believe in learning the correct form to exercise.
“Personal training is the best gift that I have given myself. Being fit, flexible and strong is especially important as we age. I am not the ‘Biggest Loser’ or ‘American’s Next Top Fitness Model,’ but an improved version of me. Can you think of a better 60th birthday gift? I’m proof that ‘60 is the New 40.’ Forget the stereotypes attached to age. I’m 60, bring it on!”