By Liana Jacob
MEET THE MUM in her FIFTIES with such an impressive SIX PACK that people don’t believe she’s had kids.
Personal trainer and nutritional coach, Maria Woolgar-Blacutt (52) who was born in La Paz, Bolivia but now lives in Texas, USA, had a difficult childhood and grew up under painful family circumstances and her mum suffered an aneurysm, leaving her handicapped and unable to speak or walk.
Growing up, Maria was withdrawn, shy and insecure of her body, so she became drawn to the gym where she found empowerment. At that time, it was unheard of for a woman to be muscular or toned and the gyms were predominantly used by men.
Despite being judged about her decision to lift weights, Maria insisted on going to the gym as she felt it was her getaway from the troubles she faced at home. Over time, she managed to sculpt an athletic physique and by the time she was in her late twenties, she welcomed her first child, Miguel, who is now 23 years old.
Over the next three years she had two more children, Fabiola and Miki, now 21 and 19 respectively, but she continued to train hard five times a week after her last pregnancy to get back to her previous figure of 8st 9lb and UK size 6.
She has been sticking to this ever since, and now that she is in her fifties, she has been receiving she has been receiving considerable attention as a role model to men and women of all ages aspiring to get fit, and stay fit well into their fifties and beyond.
With over 8,500 followers on Instagram, @strongmariastrong, she was encouraged by her children to set up the page and help other women achieve similar results as she has.
“I began lifting in a dark basement gym in Bolivia in the 1990s, facing many challenges, setbacks and criticism as a female lifter in those times,” Maria said.
“I am proud to say that today, after thirty years of training with weights, I still maintain an impeccably lean, strong, athletic physique.
“I began lifting in a time and a place where lifting wasn’t even a thing for women; a lot of people expressed their disapproval and passed judgement on a lady frequenting a male dominant gym.
“I was virtually the only female training at my gym for a decade. In the years to come, I continued battling against society’s expectations of me as a woman.
“It was mainly, although not exclusively, females that criticised me for being ‘too muscular’, too thin, for wearing shorts, for pursing the development of my physique.
“It’s almost ironic, because the physique I had then, is the body that young women are in pursuit of today – but at the time, an athletic toned female body was vulgar and manly. Today, it’s ultimate goal.
“I had a very difficult childhood with many painful family difficulties that prevail to this day. To make matters worse, my mother suffered a brain haemorrhage when I was nineteen; she was left handicapped, unable to speak or walk.
“This was devastating for me. Growing up I was withdrawn, shy, insecure. It seemed to me that everyone had nice families and I was the only one going through a very harsh family life.
“I have learned, (literally after walking out of the doors of hell), to take care of myself. No one else will. Self-care is key. I exercise, eat well, drink enough water, get enough sleep, take bubble baths. I also manage my stress, I mind my own business, focus on what’s important and don’t sweat the small stuff.
“I hit a very dark patch of my life in my mid-twenties; my mother was very sick, and desperation kicked in.
“I began to train at the gym with weights and that gave me a sense of power and control. I began feeling I could change the way I looked and the way I felt about myself. I began to gain self-confidence.
“As cliché as it may sound, training at the gym brought a certain empowerment to my inner self that nothing else has. It was the catalyst for many positive changes. The discipline, strength, and resilience learned at the gym empowered me in every area of my life”
Maria mainly focuses on weight training and only takes two rest days per week. She feels like a transformed person; once shy and insecure, now she is confident and strong.
Her change in body and attitude has not only made an impact on the way she views herself, but how others view her. She has since been showered with compliments and attention from people who see her as a role model.
“I have a lot of energy and radiance; people approach me every day and cannot believe my age. I feel healthy, strong, confident and alive- who can ask for more,” she said.
“I train hard five days a week, I lift heavy weights. I take two days to recover, usually Wednesday and Saturday.
“I eat very well, sleep well, take lots of bubble baths and I invest in good face creams. I do my best to keep stress at bay.
“I’m a transformed person, and that has been my greatest triumph; I am now a very confident, independent woman.
“I take no sh*t from anyone; I’m empowered, yet still very feminine. I would love to teach other women how to stand strong – I wish I had the confidence I have now when I was twenty.
“My kids inspired me; they think I am unique being so fit and energetic at my age, so they encouraged me to open an Instagram page.
“Probably the hardest thing for me when I began (and even to this date) is the resistance I face from friends, family and society in general of my lifestyle.
“I’m a female bodybuilder, I began lifting in Bolivia when no female was seen at the gym at all. People have judged me, criticised me, speculated on my life, and on occasion shunned me because I was not a mainstream lady/mum/wife. My kids and husband always supported me.
“My advice is don’t wait for the perfect moment. Just begin. The perfect moment will never come. Don’t overdo it. It’s often a recipe for failure.
“Begin training two times per week for an hour until it becomes a habit. Then increase to three times per week. Take it slowly.
“Most people do too much too soon and then get tired and throw in the towel because it was too hard. Same with diet, don’t go on a crazy starvation diet that you will ditch after a month; make nutrition changes that you can adhere to through time.
“Do it for you; love yourself every step of the way and thank yourself for every positive thing you do for yourself, instead of hating yourself for every negative thing you do. Always focus on your advancements and wins.”