A 73-Year-Old Fitness Influencer Said She’s Constantly Learning From Young People
This week's newsletter: How a nearly 74-year-old fitness guru has me screaming “OK boomer!!!” and a very chaotic spon from Khloé Kardashian.
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Just when I got excited to age into stubbornness and stagnancy...
Before I get into the intro and info part of this newsletter, I just want to say to my subject, whom I spoke with earlier this week: Hell yeah, Joan Eve MacDonald. Health yeah (sorry).
Joan is from a small town in Ontario and turns 74 next month. Even though she is still figuring out social media, she has become a fitness influencer to nearly 400,000 followers on her Instagram @trainwithjoan.
I first heard about Joan from a reader named Ermina, who sent me an email about her account. She wrote: “Joan MacDonald is proof everything we've been taught about growing old is a scam.” And she’s right.
Joan’s daughter Michelle, who’s a fitness trainer and coach based in Tulum, Mexico, started Joan’s account for her in 2018. Michelle still helps to run the logistical and technical aspects of @trainwithjoan, but Joan said she engages directly with her followers and community.
Much of Joan’s new life as an internet personality is, well, totally new to her — including fitness itself.
“I was overweight and in poor health, and my daughter just wanted me to get healthier,” she told me via video chat. “She didn’t want to be visiting her mom in a [retirement] home where she couldn’t look after herself.”
So only a few years ago, according to Joan, Michelle helped her “get out of her comfort zone,” “talk to people,” and start learning basic exercises and weight-lifting techniques. She started a new diet and eating schedule, and ultimately lost 45 pounds in eight months.
But that's not what makes Joan so interesting and inspirational to me.
As someone who has to constantly trick myself into working out, I know intense fitness is as hard mentally as it is physically. What I was struck by while talking to Joan is how willing she is to continue learning and building on her life — and from people decades younger than her.
“When I started this journey, I had to learn to use an iPhone and an iPad to communicate with her and get this information back and forth,” she said. “I’m still learning this stuff. A lot of people I know are only using Facebook; they don’t use Instagram.”
Still, she said, it’s been incredibly rewarding to know all the things she’s able to accomplish and ~influence~ others to do as well.
“I would never have thought five years ago I’d be doing this. It was introduced to me to keep me broadening my horizons. I was very socially inept,” Joan said. “[Now] people are finding me on social media and [commenting] that they want their mothers or aunts to get in better shape.”
Joan said there are many “misconceptions about older people on social media.” And while there are noticeably fewer Gen X’ers or boomers on platforms like Instagram or Twitter, she said there’s a good handful of women of her age group who have their own active accounts and follow her.
Joan wants to be a symbol of not making your life finite, at any age.
“You have to make conscious choices of directions you want to take in order to have a fulfilling life,” she said as if it were a mantra. “I’m still growing. I’m still going. I’m just happy to know that I’ve been given that choice, and hopefully I’m doing the right stuff.”
“I’ve always felt you can learn from young people,” she added.
I’m here to amend “OK boomer” to “OK boomer!!!!”
What in the bedazzled Febreze bottles is going on with Khloé Kardashian’s latest spon?
There are several photos in the promotion, including one featuring her lounging with staged Febreze bottles around her entire house. The bottles are also personalized with rhinestone embellishments. Some photos are high-res; others are strangely grainy, and not in, like, a fashion novelty way. Just a randomly low-grade way. In one, a foot looks awkwardly elongated and cropped out.
I have nothing further to add, but enjoy! And have fun spotting all the curious and chaotic quirks.
Until next time — I’m going out to buy 27 bottles of Febreze to refurnish my apartment. Febreze as wall art. Febreze stacked as chairs. Febreze as fridge magnets,