By Liana Jacob
MEET THE GRANDMA in her SIXTIES with a SIX-PACK who claims that bodybuilding has helped build her confidence and attracts admiring stares from MEN who often comment that her biceps are BIGGER than theirs – but her husband doesn’t mind.
Medical office administrator and personal trainer, Lynda Jager (61) from Ontario, Canada, first became eager to sculpt her figure when she was in her twenties with a goal to become stronger.
In the beginning she was prone to being too shy to join a gym or exercise publicly due to having anxiety and suffering from stage fright. She started off buying her own weights and began weightlifting in private at home for a decade.
It wasn’t until she was in her thirties when she had the courage to join a gym, as she felt she was limited with methods of weight training doing it at home. Over the next few years she was encouraged by many people, including her husband, Mark (55), to participate in bodybuilding competitions.
But it took her two decades to pluck up the courage to compete in her first bodybuilding show, by this time she was 51. During her first show, she suffered stage fright and froze on stage and almost fainted, she had to be gently nudged by the woman behind her, but once she gathered herself, she felt exhilarated. She has since been a five-time bodybuilding champion and feels more confident than she’s ever been.
Lynda is a grandmother to six children; Max (7), Ella (5), Victoria (3), Georgia (2), Jack (1) and Nora (11 months). Her muscular physique has attracted a lot of attention both good and bad; some admire her for her strength and others aren’t fans of the muscle look. She says at times men appear intimidated by her muscular figure.
She says that her husband is so confident in their relationship he doesn’t even mind when she men flirt with her.
“I am a lifelong fitness enthusiast, married to the most supportive man in the world. We have been together for the past fifteen years and married for just over a year,” Lynda said.
“I was always drawn to the images both in magazines and on TV of strong women that looked healthy and fit and really wanted to do the same to my body.
“When I discovered fitness, it was like a huge breakthrough, as I felt I had found something that I really enjoyed, and my overall health benefited from it as well.
“I particularly liked the weight-training component of fitness as it made me feel strong and I began to feel more confident about myself.
“I enjoyed the appearance of muscles on my body. I also wanted to set an example for my young children, so they could be strong and self-confident as well.
“I believe it was my doctor who actually said I should exercise more; when I was in my late teens, I was always tired, had some anxiety and was very shy.
“I wanted to start moving more as the doctor suggested, but I was unsure of what type of exercise best suited me.
“I didn’t enjoy team sports because of my shyness so I thought I would try exercising along with some of the shows on TV.
“I was twenty years old when I first started exercising in my parent’s basement; I would follow shows on TV and learn from them. The more I started to see results, the more results I was anxious to see, and that kept me going.
“I enjoyed weight training the most and I continued this throughout my twenties and thirties to exercise regularly.
“I became so interested in learning more, so I was constantly reading books and magazines about weight training and bodybuilding.
“I completely fell in love with weight training and would lift as heavy as I could with good form and I also did some cardio.”
Lynda began receiving more encouragement from her fellow gym goers and husband to enter into bodybuilding competitions, but due to her anxiety, she didn’t feel confident enough to do it.
“I started competing when I was fifty-one and up until then I still had major stage fright. I did not like to be in front of a large group of people or be centred out,” she said.
“The first time stepped on stage, I thought I would faint and almost didn’t do it. The girl behind me actually had to give me a little nudge to get me to step on stage.
“After my first competition was over, I couldn’t wait to do it again, as it gave me such a giant confidence boost.
“My confidence through the years grew and my shyness and anxiety lessened immensely. I was able to set a good example for my children, who are now setting a good example for their children and others in their lives.
“I believe it has given me the confidence to try new things and speak up when I need to. When I was in my thirties I was not as confident in my body or what I was doing to change it.
“At that time, I was a bit of a closet exerciser, as weightlifting and muscles on women were sometimes thought strange and not the ‘norm’.
“I would hide my muscles, to avoid the comments. We’ve come a long way since then, realising that muscles on women is healthy.
“I get a lot of comments about my body actually; most of the comments are positive, with people (men and women) saying I have great arms or shoulders, etc.
“But occasionally I will get a negative comment with someone saying that’s it’s just too much, or I’m ‘too fit’. I went to a couple of modelling agencies a few years back and was turned down for being ‘too’ fit.
“I did however find an agency that liked the way I looked and was eager to promote my look. Sometimes I think that certain men are a bit intimidated by my appearance.
“I get comments such as, ‘Your biceps are bigger than mine’ (my answer would just be a smile) or ‘You look so strong, I bet you could beat me up’, to which I would answer, ‘I may look strong, but I don’t have a violent bone in my body’.
Lynda and her husband have been together for 15 years and every year their relationship has strengthened meaning that nothing or no one can threaten it.
She has occasionally had men stare at her admiringly, but she says that her husband, who has been very supportive, does not mind.
“I don’t think I’ve really had a major lifestyle change, just tweaks here and there but I think it’s more about the fact that I’ve kept this lifestyle for so many years, so really it’s not so new,” she said.
“I did have to lose about eight pounds for my first competition and have remained just slightly above competition weight since then.
“My husband loves the way I look. He knows that I get some admiring glares and comments from other men but isn’t really bothered by them. He is very confident in our relationship.
“He usually brushes it off and doesn’t say too much. He leaves it up to me to handle it, if it’s unwanted attention.
“Sometimes I think they flirt when they don’t know he’s in the room and quickly stop when they realise he’s my husband.
“I was five-time champion in my province a few years back, in both the open and natural stream of bodybuilding.
“I was very proud of myself, but I think I’m prouder for continuing to pursue bodybuilding and winning was just the icing on the cake so to speak.
“I want to share my fitness experience and knowledge with others. I want everyone to understand that being fit for life is possible, without pain, restrictive eating or drugs. I hope to inspire others to get off the couch, get off the phones and tablets, and move, just move.
“It starts with a mindset; you should have a clear vision of your reasons for change and that vision becomes your motivation. Picture yourself achieving your goals.
“With that clear vision in mind, seek out all the information you can and learn how to achieve those goals through informative magazines and books, reliable sources on the internet, or find a qualified coach or trainer.
“I believe it all starts in the mind but continues in the heart. You need to believe in yourself.”