by Maren Kravitz
Marci Karplus began personal training at The Training Room in March 2011. Since then, Marci has completed 337 personal training sessions. With the exception of summer travel, a few injuries and life’s minor twists and turns, Marci has remained committed to training twice a week for the past five years.
Beyond her commitment, what makes Marci’s story unique is her late arrival into the world of fitness. Marci picked up running at the age of 58, after a news program mentioned that Jill Biden was running five miles a day. “I thought well heck, maybe I can do that,” Marci said. “Nothing like having a role model.”
Marci got hooked on the exhilarating feeling she got from running. Cautiously increasing her mileage, Marci worked up to four weekly runs – ranging from three to ten miles at a time. Marci loved it. “Running at a slow pace allowed me time to get lost in my thoughts, while enjoying the scenery around me,” said Marci.
When life gives you lemons, make lemonade
Within the first year of taking up running, Marci began to get sidelined by aches and pains in her knees. Determined to get stronger and continue her running, Marci began training at the TR and enlisted the help of physical therapists.
Marci was diligent, completing her physical therapy exercises and making sure she took an appropriate amount of time off running to rest her knees. Unfortunately, Marci continued to feel the same knee pain each time she returned to running after a break. Unbeknownst to Marci, a foot surgery dating back 25 years was the cause of her knee pain and eventual end to her running career.
Injuries can be trying for anyone. When Marci was forced to give up running she saw an opportunity. Already in the habit of working out twice a week at the TR, it was time for Marci to set her sights on a new goal.
“Although, I do not recall the particular client who inspired me initially with their chin-ups, I do remember it was a female client, albeit someone substantially younger than me,” Marci explained. As Marci commented on how impressed she was with those clients’ chin-ups, I turned to Marci without any hesitation and said,
“You want to do that? We can do that.”
A challenge had been issued and off we went on a mission to train Marci to become the oldest female client at The Training Room to complete an unassisted bodyweight chin-up at the age of 67.
Marci will be the first to tell you that laying the foundation necessary to complete a chin-up takes time. For some clients, their previous bouts of sports and athletic training can help to move the process along faster. For Marci, sports, weight training and athletics entered her life in the “golden years”.
“As a kid I rode a bike, but that’s pretty much the limit to my sports activities,” Marci said. Like all junior high and high school students, Marci was required to participate in PE classes. “I’d be amongst the last chosen for any team and my PE course grade generally echoed this,” Marci admitted.
Marci looked at her chin-up goal with an open time frame. I explained that working towards this particular goal would not preclude us from advancing the lifts we had been previously training. In fact, building on the foundation of exercises we had been training would only benefit and help progress us towards the chin-up goal.
Heavier deadlifts provided a stronger connection to Marci’s posterior or backside muscles while building her grip strength. Push-ups in varying numbers increased Marci’s ability to create tension throughout her entire body, while maintaining a strong connection between her core while increasing shoulder stability. Kettlebell swings and single arm variations provided an explosive link between the recruitment of her front and backside muscles, all of which would be needed to help Marci pull her bodyweight above that chin-up bar.
Weathering the storm
“Although no deadline was set, I certainly did not expect it would take so long,” Marci stated. Progress was slowed by some holes in our training schedule. Various injuries such as a bum elbow from shoveling “snowpocalypse,” a bad back from pulling out bamboo and more foot surgery led to days and weeks where she was unable to come in and train. Marci and I communicated about all setbacks, making sure to listen to her body and take the necessary time before returning to training.
Injuries are a part of life, however, depending on the nature and seriousness, not all injuries have to become permanent setbacks. A trainer / client relationship needs to be built on trust, and our clear communication and realistic expectations helped us get over these bumps in the road. With Marci’s patience and continued determination, none of her injuries proved too much of an obstacle for us to overcome.
Ironically, Marci completed her first chin-up while I was halfway across the world. As I watched the video I couldn’t have been prouder. Marci’s progress and can do attitude are an inspiration to everyone at the TR.
Keep your chin up
“I think at some point I thought I might never reach the goal of doing a chin-up. I was ok with that. The important thing is to set your eye on a reasonable target and work at it; don’t set a specific deadline, just keep plugging away. Maybe you won’t reach your goal, or maybe you modify it. Meanwhile you discover all the other things you can do and thought you’d never do.
Even though I have successfully completed my chin-up goal, I am only now starting to understand the muscles that come into play and technique necessary to complete this exercise. With the support of the entire Training Room crew and some egging-on from Derek, I feel everyone is rooting for me.
And of course, Maren and I are a team.”