When I first asked Kim McDonnell to be my running partner last summer, I didn’t know much about her. I knew she instructed Zumba at S.W.E.A.T. and I knew she was training for a half marathon. I asked her because, I knew she had some experience running, but not so much that I would be holding her back from accomplishing her own goals. Even with knowing so little about her, I sensed that she would make a good running partner for me.
While on our runs, I learned a little about Kim’s fitness journey. Beginning as a teenager and continuing most of her life, she struggled with her weight. In fact, her love of fitness did not begin until after her youngest child was about two.
For obvious reasons, many women struggle with their weight and body image once they reach a certain age. Metabolisms slow down and finding the time to exercise is challenging. Kim faces the same struggles that most women in their 40s face, but she doesn’t let them stop her.
At 46, Kim is in the best shape of her life and pushing herself beyond levels she never thought possible.
Her love of fitness began with Zumba, at the very first S.W.E.A.T. studio. After trying different exercise routines and walking on the dike with her daughter, Kim realize why Zumba and group fitness changed her life.
“I think for me it took someone who could make exercising fun. Jess did that for me. Then as I started to see results and knew I could do this, I had the bite and drive to want and go back for more.”
Kim’s love of Zumba drove her to become an instructor. She loved watching other instructors’ creativity and wanted to be the person to inspire clients to love fitness like she does. In January 2013, she got her certification and began teaching at area fitness studios. The following year, she began teaching at S.W.E.A.T.
While Zumba is still one of her passions, Kim again wanted to take her fitness to a new level. Last year, she was happy with the progress she had made, but was still looking for a way to lose belly fat. Several people that she talked to told her to take up running. After getting some advice from Jess, Kim began to run, slowly but surely.
After a few months of running and making some progress on her timing and distance, Kim decided to run the Philadelphia half marathon with Jess in the fall. The thought of signing up for the half was scary but exciting. Kim knew she had the drive to do it, if she pushed herself to keep training.
A few weeks into training with Jess, Kim began to have some doubts about doing the half marathon. Jess stopped her and what she said, Kim will never forget: ‘Please don’t think I’m calling you old but did you ever think at 45 you would be training to run your first half marathon, let alone just running?’
It was then that Kim realize how far she had come… and then she didn’t look back. Although she didn’t quite reach her goal of finishing the half in under two hours, she finished the race better than half the women who competed.
Finishing a half marathon at 46 was not enough for Kim. Even today, she is proud of how far she has come but she keeps pushing.
At the end of last year, Kim decided to get certified in Insanity. For those of you familiar with the class, you know it is absolutely nothing like Zumba. Insanity lives up to its name each and every class, forcing participants to push themselves as hard as they can for 30 to 50 minutes.
“I love Zumba. It was my first step in teaching. Insanity is a whole different venue, though. I wanted to motivate clients to step out of their comfort zone, and to try a different class that the name alone is intimidating. I wanted something new under my belt.”
Instructing Insanity and inspiring clients to achieve their goals, helps Kim work toward her own. Seeing her clients leave class with a smile on their faces and promising to come back for more is especially rewarding. It also inspires her to keep going.
No matter what her goals are for this year, Kim is on track to meet them, not matter what her age is. For other women who are out there doubting whether or not they can get fit and be healthy because of their age, she has some advice.
“You can start at any age. I say don’t ever doubt yourself. Get the word can’t out of your vocabulary. Hook yourself up with someone who will stay positive with you. Once you start hitting small goals, the big ones won’t be far off and you will conquer them. One goal at a time.”
Kim has been an inspiration to me and others for her perseverance. She doesn’t let anything stop her and using her age as an excuse doesn’t even cross her mind. We are lucky to have such an example at S.W.E.A.T. as a fellow client and as an instructor.