Tracey Sylvester, age 51, is a senior nurse at Sheffield Hospital, last year she started training with personal trainer Carly Yue at her Fitness First Club and really got into using weights to increase her strength and muscle tone.
Tracey tells her inspirational gym story, and how she regularly gets told she looks 20 years younger than her real age!
“When I was in my thirties I became a Mum, I felt frumpy and like I needed something just for me, so I started at the gym. My first 2 minutes on the Cross trainer was exhausting but I persisted. I had a programme and used a mix of weight machines, free weights and cardio machines. I loved it. I started classes 2-3 times a week mainly Legs, Bums, Tums and Spinning. I surprised myself as I had never been sporty at school and was always one of the last people to be team picked in PE.
My initial goals were to lose weight and get some ‘me time.’ I achieved both really well and returned to my pre baby weight.
I felt like nothing could stop me until the day it did.
My mum was diagnosed with breast cancer and it knocked the stuffing out of me
I had no energy to train as I watched her endure her treatment. After 18 months, the cancer returned and mum passed away the following year. By this time I hadn't trained for 3 years. I drank alcohol most nights and although I still ate well I put weight on.
My partner died tragically and suddenly in 2013 and it became the norm to have a beer to feel better.
I am sure my physical and mental health would have suffered greatly if I had continued on this path.
My lifestyle now is completely different. I have a cheat day once a week including alcohol and eat so much better. I feel so much better.
I love training with Carly for many reasons
- I am pushed safely out of my comfort zone
- The variety of exercise is unbelievable it's impossible to become bored
- I am motivated and more confident and Carly is an inspiration to us all
- Training as part of a team means we are there for each other.
I have gained so much knowledge regarding my fitness, my workouts, my goals and nutrition that I wonder how I managed before.
I still do classes but to a lesser degree my main aim is weight training
Yes it's hard and yes it hurts at times but when I am being complimented by friends and strangers (including a doctor mistaking me for a 30 year old) then it is all worth it.
Training pushes my boundaries and tests my strength to a point I would not reach on my own
Not only has my muscle mass increased but my mental health has improved greatly. Training is a great stress buster even on those days I feel like staying in bed. I love my life now.
My advice to others starting out would be
- Try it...age has no boundaries and there's no such word as 'Can't’
- Take it step by step
- "If you believe you'll achieve"
Tracey’s personal trainer, Carly Yue says
‘Tracey is an incredible client. She brings 110% to each & every session and is always inspiring other gym members with her positive attitude, training ethic & fun personality.
I don't think Tracey quite realised just how many people she motivates and helps with her role modelling and advice. She's a legend and evidence that age is irrelevant.’
Top two photos: Tracey in 2017 aged 51 and training at Fitness First Clubs
Right hand photo: Tracey in 2003 as she became a full time Mum
Left hand photo: Tracey in 2009 ‘I didn't realise how big my shape was as despite working out I felt slim.’