Te Hana’s competitive crossfit athlete Diana Flynn, 60, says aging is a symptom of letting yourself slow down.
Diana operates a 28ha beef farm, jointly runs the Wellsford Gas plumbing business with her partner and is a personal trainer at Fit365 Mangawhai. Despite all that, she still finds the time to compete in crossfit at international level.
She ranks in the world top 10 for her division and last month qualified for the Crossfit Games in Madison, Wisconsin.
In the games, competitors spend five days performing various strength-based workouts including burpees, ring muscle-ups and snatches.
Each workout is judged and allotted a score with first place being awarded 100 points, second 90, and so forth. At the end of the competition, totals for each competitor are tallied.
Diana placed fourth equal at the Crossfit Games but was only 10 points off third place, indicating just how competitive the division was.
It’s Diana’s fourth year competing in the games and she says it doesn’t get any easier.
“It can be extremely hot in the US. One year the bars were so hot they were blistering our hands. It is a real test of mental will,” she says.
Leading up to the competition, she trained two hours every day in a gym she has built in a shed in Te Hana.
Diana’s journey to fitness started when her mum died suddenly of a heart attack at 60.
“I didn’t want that to happen to me. After having two kids I decided to join a gym in Dargaville.”
“I got hooked on strength training and became a competitive powerlifter. I got qualified as a trainer and started with a class of farmers’ wives. I’ve been a trainer for 30 years now.”
Today, Diana runs a fitness programme for people aged 55 plus at the Fit365 Mangawhai gym.
“The problem is too many people get to retirement age and then they just stop.
“Exercise staves off aging as long as you enjoy what you’re doing. Keeping your mind and body active is key.”
Diana says the key to strength training at her age is to pay special attention to recovery. She includes active rest periods between workouts in her own programme, during which she goes for a jog or swim at Te Arai.
Her class does the same strength workouts as a typical crossfit programme, but with modified techniques that make use of gear like assistance bands.
“If I can do it, there’s no reason anyone aged 55 shouldn’t get started with their fitness programme, even if they’ve never tried anything like it.”
Her programme starts with 12 one-on-one sessions that teach newcomers the basics before they join a regular class.