‘I’m a HIIT-Loving 69-Year-Old Trainer, and These Are the Exercises I Swear By’

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Photo: Getty Images/adamkaz
Because of the changes your body goes through as you age, fitness over 50 can look different. But Marilyn Emanuel, a marketing professional and personal trainer in Texas, has only gotten stronger. Staying healthy has always been a priority for the 69-year-old, as she comes from a family with a history of health issues. And while she's always been passionate about fitness, becoming a trainer happened purely by accident.

"I was consistent with my daily workouts before I went to the office. At that time, my employer had a gym on campus. I would train starting at 5:30 a.m. and be in the office by 7:30 a.m., and some of my colleagues found out. Soon, I was being asked to help them achieve their fitness goals," she says. "I would always say yes, but I'd let them know I wasn't certified. One of my clients replied, 'why not?' Her question really stuck with me."

After doing some research, Emanuel became a certified trainer. Even years later, she still trains using her favorite method: HIIT, along with strength training and general cardio. "HIIT is common now, but when I started using it nearly 10 years ago, most people hadn't heard of the method," she says. You can catch her doing 60- to 75-minute training sessions three to four times a week, as well as eating a clean diet free of processed foods and sugar, very little dairy, and lots of green leafy veggies, healthy fats, and fiber. Here's exactly what fitness over 50 can look like.

How a 69-year-old trainer works out every week

Day 1: Upper body

During her first workout of the week, Emanuel focuses on her upper body. "I enjoy using dumbbells or barbells to work on my back (rowing, both upper and lower), shoulders (shoulder presses), chest, and arms (mostly bodyweight triceps and dips, along with bicep curls—both regular and preacher curls)," she says.

Day 2: Lower body

On day two, Emanuel says she mainly focuses on her glutes. "I do this with both bodyweight (donkey kicks and clam lifts) and free weights. I love deadlifts and front squats, or using some bands," she says. "My fitness goal is to build my glutes and keep lifted and toned, especially as I continue to get older and the law of gravity continuously takes over my body."

Day 3: Full-body weights

Emanuel's third weekly workout consists of full-body weights. "I do push-ups and combos with squats to standing rolls to a shoulder press," she says. "I also work on my abs every time I'm doing a workout. I love planking and doing different variations of planks, such as leg kicks or spider planks, as well as leg lifts and side twists in a V-shape position."

Day 4: Cardio

After a week filled with a countless number of squats, planks, and bicep curls, Emanuel dedicates her final workout to cardio of any kind.

Ready to sweat? Try this full-body HIIT workout:

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