Fitness and the definition of sex appeal

Although I’ve maintained my fitness and weight reasonably well as I’ve progressed into my mid-50s, I recently embarked on a drive to “level-up” my discipline. 

I started seriously running again last summer. I’ve put new intensity into my weight training, too. I’ve also reexamined and improved my diet.

These efforts have yielded results. I’m down 15 lbs in my weight since June, to just below 165 (a good weight for my height of 5’10”). I can once again complete 7-mile runs without difficulty. Not bad for a 54-year-old.

I would post a shirtless photo of myself, but I think that most of you would much rather look at a photo of fitness model and guru Lesley Maxwell.

At the age of 64, Lesley Maxwell is ten years my senior. And as someone who has trained, in one form or another, since the early 1980s, I know the discipline required to achieve that kind of definition in one’s abs. Wow.

I first became aware of Maxwell when a Daily Star article about her (“Bodybuilding gran, 64, leaves fans gushing with tiny bikini snap on beach”) appeared in my personal Facebook feed. 

I reposted it for my friends, most of whom are over 45. Since then, the Facebook algorithms have bombarded me with post after post about “hot older women”. But no matter. There is an important lesson here.

The article in the Daily Star reports that Maxwell, “sometimes gets mistaken for her 20-year-old granddaughter, who frequently trains with her in matching gym sets.”

This is almost certainly an exaggeration. (The photo below shows Maxwell with her granddaughter.) Even at a high level of fitness, most of us can tell the difference between a 64-year-old woman and a college girl. But that’s not the point.

We are all going to age, and sooner than we think. There is a part of my brain that is still stuck on 1992, when I was twenty-four years old. I’m occasionally surprised, for just a second or two, when someone talks about “thirty years ago”, and I realize that thirty years ago was the early 1990s, and not sometime in the 1960s or 1970s.

But we can influence how we age, by maintaining our discipline in the gym, and at the kitchen table.

I should also mention the topic of sex appeal. This is at least a tangential motivator for most people who work out, and it’s a primary motivator for some demographics in the gym. (No teenage boy ever started lifting weights because of a pure desire to “get strong”. The motivation is almost always to “get girls”.)

There is a version of youthful sex appeal that is almost impossible for any person beyond a certain age to project. (And that, I should note, goes for men and women alike.) But once again, it is important not to miss the point.

Lesley Maxwell proves that 64-year-old women can be “hot”. The lifelong habit of fitness is not a true fountain of youth, or a panacea for all ailments. But it’s pretty darn close.