Energy at 50

As this magazine turns 25, we turn to a 50-year-old who really know how to live the light way.

Penny Tompkins

Photo: Julie Vandenoeven/Wonderful Machine

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HEALTHY HABITS HERO: Penny Tompkins, Age 50, Boulder, Colorado

Boulder may be the land of ultraathletic females, but Penny Tompkins had never been one of them. Although she had always been what she calls “moderately active,” as she neared her 50th birthday, Penny was in a funk—unhappy with her middle-aged middle and just existing in a cloud of cumulative emotional and physical fatigue that came from raising two children and helping her husband, Tom, overcome a battle with cancer. In the spring of 2010, when Penny was looking for a fitness program to help her son Cal, now 15, she decided to invest some energy into taking care of herself. “I figured if I was taking him to CrossFit, I might as well do it, too, instead of sitting and waiting.”

It was love at first sweat. Two years later, she is totally devoted to training, and now she’s in the best shape of her adult life. In fact, to celebrate her 50th birthday, she arranged a trip to Africa and will be climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania come February.

In a wonderful case of transformation inspiration, Tom decided to try the program, too. “He looks better than I’ve ever seen him,” she brags of her hubby, 49. Adds Penny, “We both think 50 is a great time to go, ‘Hey, I’m going to stop and take account of my life.’”

PENNY'S THOUGHTS: 

  • Partner with your partner. “No question it’s a great bonding experience with my husband. We motivate each other. We encourage each other, and having an activity we can share together has been very positive for our relationship.”
  • Do it for the kids. “We like being role models for our kids. We’re not just sitting around and watching TV; we’re doing things together. Having the energy to keep up is such a great benefit.”
  • Invest in your future. “We look at the health issues around us, not only Tom’s cancer but also our parents’ health issues. We are trying to do whatever we can to combat those diseases. I won’t have the body of a 20- or 30-year-old again, but I’m going to be in better shape going into my 50s, 60s, and 70s.”

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