Thursday, September 8, 2011

Fitness Master

As a 44-year-old mother of four from Florida, Shari Riepe thought she was too old for fitness competitions. "I just started tumbling again in the last year," she said. "I thought maybe I was too old." Shari was inspired by a 61-year-old fellow competitor at an event last summer. "She was tumbling. Maybe I'm not too old." Shari's collected hardware at several events last year, not long after moving to the area from Alaska with her family. Her latest trophy was 3rd Place at the Fitness Universe Pageant - Masters Division in Miami.

A longtime acrobatic instructor, Shari took up competitive fitness when she was 30 and pregnant with her fourth child. Since then, she has undergone five knee surgeries and has been diagnosed with a neuromuscular condition similar to muscular dystrophy, she said. But that hasn't stop her. "I take medicine as needed, but I hardly ever need it," she said. "I really like to encourage people, no matter if they have ailments, through physical condition, you can overcome them. I roll out of bed and hurt every morning. As long as I do all my stuff, I'm OK."

Shari teaches gymnastics and yoga classes and has advice for anyone wanting to take up fitness, regardless of their age. She says, "I eat a high protein, vegetable and gluten-free diet for the most part. I do cardio every morning when I wake up by running a mile outside and I lift weights three times per week at the gym for a half hour. I stay active with teaching gymnastics, yoga and kayaking. Cardio is the most important component for health and training. I hear many ladies tell me they are not motivated to exercise and I tell them to 'put your body first and make yourself exercise every day even when you don't feel like it.' That is the secret to getting and staying fit."

By Beth Jones, Florida News-Leader

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