Age is but a number: meet the woman who’s a fitness influencer at 74

play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
Joan MacDonald (Photo: Instagram)
Joan MacDonald (Photo: Instagram)

She’s fit, fabulous and probably in the best shape of her life.

Many may consider her over the hill, she says, but as far as this septuagenarian is concerned there are many more mountains to climb – and she can put people half her age to shame.

Joan MacDonald is a fan of cardio and strength training and has lost more than 28 kg in the process.

It’s been a three-year journey towards a healthier, leaner Joan and the silver-haired fitness fundi from Canada is not slowing down anytime soon.

“When I got started, I never imagined I’d be where I am today,” she says.

“No matter how difficult or challenging life is, we must remain steadfast in our aim and keep inching forward.”

Joan’s lifestyle change was inspired by her daughter Michelle, who works as a fitness coach in Mexico.

Michelle had been begging her mother to prioritise her health, which wasn’t great. Joan was on several medications for high blood pressure, high cholesterol and acid reflux and she was overweight.

Her dependence on the meds would only increase unless she drastically changed her lifestyle, doctors warned.

"I knew I had to do something different," Joan tells Shape.

"I had watched my mom go through the same thing, taking medication after medication, and I didn't want that life for myself."

Michelle offered to help her mother on the right track.

"She said she was willing to help me get started and said I should join her online workout program to help get me going," Joan says.

Joan eased into her workouts. She started by walking regularly and practicing yoga. Eventually she started weightlifting.

Joan spends up to two hours in the gym for five days a week. Although she pushes herself to her limit, Joan says she’s mindful of her age and exercises at a slower pace.

One thing that has helped her successfully shed the weight has been consistency.

"I just get my workout out of the way first thing in the morning," she explains. "So, usually every day at about 7am I head to the gym, then I have the rest of the day to work on other things on my schedule."

Joan has transformed her diet too. When she first started, she was eating less than she now does but the meals were unhealthy.

"Now, I eat five small meals a day and I continue to lose weight and feel better overall," she says.

Her discipline has paid off. Doctors have given her the all-clear, which means she no longer has to take those medications, Men’s Health reports.

Joan, who lives in Ontario, Canada, has an Instagram following of nearly 900 000. She regularly posts videos of her workouts, progress pictures and recipes of delicious healthy meals.

However, she couldn’t have done it without her daughter, she says.

"I've admired her all along, but having her train me is something else, especially since she doesn't hold anything back," Joan says. “It's a challenge, but I appreciate it."

Joan hopes her story will inspire others her age.

"We are strong [and] capable of change, but we're often viewed as fragile," she says.

"I hope that more women my age embrace being pushed and appreciate that someone is interested in seeing you try harder. Even though you can't turn back the clock, you can wind it up again."


We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24