Women’s Fitness in Action

Parrish Health & Fitness Center helps women stay fit at any age.Parrish Health & Fitness Center helps women stay fit at any age

For centuries, three things have enjoyed the reputation of getting better with age: wine, cheese and scotch. But times have changed, and a fresh perspective has emerged. Today, people are beginning to embrace the upside of aging.

At age 52, Wendy Worsley, M.D. of Port St. John Family Practice (located on the second floor of the Parrish Healthcare Center at Port St. John), completed her first sprint triathlon in May 2011. Although she has always been physically active, she had never before considered competing in the three-pronged event because she is not a strong swimmer. But when her good friend, Marcia Ely, D.V.M. of Sunrise Animal Hospital in Titusville, signed up for her third triathlon, Dr. Worsley thought, “I’m not even sure if I can do it, but I know I’ll have fun.”

When Dr. Ely competed in her first triathlon in 2004, her goal was simple: “I just wanted to finish the triathlon without embarrassing myself.”

Now, with multiple races under her belt, her accomplishments amaze a generation half her age. “I finished a 32-mile bike ride one Sunday morning and my 25-year-old son said, ‘How come you’re not dead?’” jokes Dr. Ely.

Following her parents’ example of staying active and healthy, Dr. Worsley says, “Being in your 50s is not old. It’s fun doing something that you’ve never done before, and I’m not finished trying new things.”


Drs. Worsley and Ely have tapped into a huge component of success in any physical fitness routine. They have so much fun when they train together that it hardly feels like a boring exercise regimen. In fact, exercise psychology research indicates that social relationships can enhance exercise commitment, motivation, self-confidence and enjoyment.

“Wendy (Dr. Worsley) pushes us to go faster on our bike rides,” says Dr. Ely.

And Dr. Worsley agrees: “I tell all my patients to find a friend or family member to work out with—someone who can motivate you.”

According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), on average, 50 percent of people who start an exercise program drop out within the first six months; however, adherence improves when people feel socially connected to others within the exercise environment.


Sticking to a training schedule can be difficult when you work full time. “My work life always impacts my training. Sometimes I’m so exhausted at the end of the day I just don’t feel like training. But when I do, I always feel better afterward,” says Dr. Ely.

Dr. Worsley tries to encourage her patients to experience the benefits of physical activity. “I tell them, ‘You are the only one that can make your health and fitness a priority.’ My energy level at work is so much better when I am consistently working out. I could never feel good about telling my patients something that I don’t believe…I have to practice what I preach,” she says.

And small changes now can make a big impact down the road. For example, you could walk the dog after dinner instead of watching TV. You don’t have to sign up for a triathlon tomorrow.

“The first step is very important, but don’t overwhelm yourself to be successful. Just make healthy changes and never give up,” advises Dr. Worsley.


A coach can be instrumental in your progress. Parrish Health & Fitness Center offers complementary Wellness Coaching sessions for all members. Dr. Worsley and Dr. Ely, for example, hired personal trainer Carolyn Fiske of Parrish Health & Fitness Center to help them train for their most intimidating triathlon event: the swim.

“It was a tremendous benefit to have Carolyn work with us. She individualized my training and helped me change my stroke and how I think of it (the swim) overall,” says Dr. Worsley.

“Both of them (Dr. Worsley and Dr. Ely) are in great shape, so my main goal was to work on perfecting their stroke so they could get through the swim effortlessly and efficiently, conserving energy for the rest of the tri,” Fiske explains.

The personal attention paid off for both women, and Dr. Ely notes, “Carolyn’s training was a big benefit. I was able to get through the water and not be so worn out for the rest of the tri.”

These fit and fabulous women participated in another triathlon this year on Mother’s Day, and went on a 250-mile multi-day bike ride last summer. Now Fiske is Dr. Worsley’s personal trainer at the fitness center, and is working with her on lifting weights, among other things.

Staying fit at any age is definitely better when you do it with a friend. These two women are proof of that.


Get in shape with the help of a personal trainer or wellness coach at Parrish Health & Fitness Center. Or choose from the more than 80 group classes available every week. From Aerobics to Zumba®, there’s something for everyone. Salsa and samba, core strengthening, yoga, Flirty Girl Fitness®, modern belly dancing, tai chi, iron works, punch and kick and Senior FIT are just some of the classes. Indoor Cycling is an energizing program led by an expert coach. Or get wet! Classes are offered in the lap pool and the warm water pool. Check out all the fitness options at ParrishHealthAndFitness.com.

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