Esther Momanyi, a mother of three doctors, looks nothing close to most women who are in their 60s.
At 68, she is in a pretty good shape than most young women, throws punches better than most men and has a focused mind; thanks to boxing.
The fitness freak who has three grandchildren weighed 44 kilogrammes when she started exercising. For years, she desired to be a little bit heavier, but her efforts were not bearing fruit.
When she turned 40, she hit the gym to gain the desired weight.
“I had also begun getting tired of staying idle every time I was away from work. So I thought of exercising to keep busy and to time build muscles,” she says.
To start off, Esther decided to do light exercises like walking then as time went by, she graduated to running.
She could wake up as early as 4.30am to work out up to 6am then get back to the house to prepare for the office.
“I did this for nearly 10 years then I decided to do more challenging exercises,” she says.
She enrolled in a gym in Nairobi near her place of work. Although at the beginning it was challenging to stick to a routine, Esther has managed to juggle work and going to the gym from Monday to Friday, between 11am and 12.30 pm.
“I would work out and lift some heavy metals and that brought a lot of satisfaction in me,” she says.
Three years ago, Esther moved to more challenging exercises to build her muscles and improve her fitness levels.
“I discovered that there is a boxing club at the gym where I have been attending and so I decided to join,” she says.
With time, she discovered that boxing was more enjoyable than other exercises and she has since fallen in love with it. Boxercise is a workout that mimics boxers.
In the class, people wear protective gloves and throw punches. It involves shadow-boxing, skipping, hitting pads, kicking punch bags, press-ups, shuttle-runs and sit-ups.
Boxing workouts are often long—about two hours—to fit in a warm-up, conditioning, and drills. The explosive total-body workout is supervised by a trainer who gives them directions and leaves them to enjoy as they engage with their partners.
Since Esther started doing boxercises, she has added about four kilogrammes (kgs). She now weighs 49 kgs and has been working hard to maintain that weight, she does not want to reduce or to add.
Staying active in your 60s, speeds up metabolism which typically slows down in old age, meaning that you gain more weight.
“When people look at me, they think I am younger and not many can guess my age,” she says.
When she goes to the gym every other day, she starts with warm-up exercises before intensively engaging in boxing.
“Warming up helps to awaken the muscles and prepare me for boxing,” she says.
Besides body fitness, the workout makes her happy, adds fun to her life and has helped her gain speed.
“My age-mates are undergoing a lot of stress due to different life issues. Family problems drive people to stress and depression, but for someone who is engaging in boxing, the sport helps improve moods,” she says, adding that it also has several benefits which include lowering the chances of developing heart diseases in old age.
Esther says since she started going for gym, she is stronger, sleeps better and rarely gets sick.
“I stopped watching TV long time ago, I only tune in when I am free to watch news. Boxing is now what I love doing. My muscles are stronger, my abdomen area has also become tight,” she says.
Each day, she challenges herself in the gym to learn new boxing tactics.
After boxing, she takes some few minutes to stretch, freshen up and get back to her work, awaiting for the next day to resume her routine.
“I am not intending to stop boxing anytime soon. I will continue doing it for as long as I am strong and healthy,” she says.
She advises older women to fight the excess weight, stress, find fulfilment in throwing jabs—mimicking what is going on the boxing ring.
Boxing is good exercise for both adding and losing weight when well managed with eating appropriately.