A Fresh New Challenge

From the moment Helen Fritsch discovered the confidence-boosting power of bodybuilding – in her fifties, nonetheless – she didn’t look back. Here’s why she thinks you shouldn’t, either.

 

As a flight attendant, Helen Fritsch has seen her share of exotic locations. But though her job has taken her all over the world, there’s still one place where she feels more at home than any other: in the gym.

Of course, she hasn’t always had the same affinity for fitness – her relationship with exercise and diet has evolved over the course of her 64 years. Though in the beginning of her journey she focused on staying slim and working out excessively to counteract a less-than-optimal diet, with time she realized that she wanted a new challenge. That’s where bodybuilding came in.

“Back in my twenties, thirties and forties, I worked out so I could eat freely,” she recalls. “In my mid-fifties, I wanted to test my limits and get into the best shape of my life.”

This newfound ambition brought her to the fitness stage, where she competed in her first bodybuilding competition at 56 years old. She amazed herself, the judges and her fellow athletes when she landed third place in the 35-plus bikini category. It was that moment, Helen says, that she knew she could succeed in the sport.

She credits her fellow athletes for giving her the courage and confidence to make it in fitness, in addition to another mainstay in her posse.

“Training with my coach is the most important part of my healthy living routine,” Helen shares. “He helps me stay accountable and pushes me to do the work needed to get the results I want.”

Roadblocks Ahead

Of course, it hasn’t been all fun and games. Aside from the dedicated lifestyle needed to succeed in the uber-competitive world of bodybuilding, there were other hurdles that caused her to stumble – but not fall – along the way.

Six years ago, after being diagnosed with leukemia and losing her father within a short period of time, Helen resolved to not let these heartbreaking circumstances slow her down.

“I was at a crossroads – do I become a victim or a victor?” says Helen. “I knew my father would want me to shine and I wanted to make him proud, so I directed my mindset to beating my cancer and celebrating his life by being the best athlete I can be.”

Just a Number

Today, Helen isn’t letting anything deter her from continuing on her path to greatness. And she believes that her level of success is available to almost everyone – as long as they have the right attitude.

“First and foremost, age is irrelevant, so don’t let it deter you from going after your dreams,” she advises. “Surround yourself with likeminded people who can help you achieve your goals, and hold yourself accountable along the way.” These steps, Helen believes, will bring you health, happiness and the satisfaction that comes from proving you can do something that initially seemed impossible.

Now secure in her physique, and in recognition of all the hard work she has applied to get to where she is today, Helen knows that if she wants a treat, she should have it. Not only is she a certified wine specialist, she appreciates the value – both mentally and nutritionally – of a top-rate steak dinner with a chocolate cake chaser. After all, tomorrow is another day.

“It’s a marathon, not a sprint!” she says about achieving your goals. “Results take time. Have the perseverance and patience to go the distance!”

That, most can agree, is a sentiment deserving of the types of cheers that Helen is accustomed to – on the stage, and with a glass of wine in hand.

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Photos by Kris Cox and James Patrick

By : Rachel Debling

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