BANGOR – Trying something new and sticking with it is challenging, especially if it might be out of your comfort zone.
But we spoke to one local woman who has overcome that challenge and everything that’s stood in her way, even as time continues to work against her.
“I’m here a lot and I’m always happy to be here,” said Donna Roberts, who’s been an athlete at Bangor Crossfit for almost nine years.
“I can’t even imagine not having this as part of my life at this point,” Roberts said. “You always leave feeling like, ‘I’m so glad I came.'”
And she keeps coming back, even when the workouts get tough.
“It’s never easy, but it’s always fun and it’s always rewarding when you’re done,” Roberts said.
“She’s the first person I think of when I tell people about Crossfit, and they say that they can’t do it. I’m like, ‘let me tell you about Donna and what she’s capable of doing, and how far she’s come and how far she’s still going to go,'” said Bangor Crossfit head coach Tiffany Surette.
Roberts is breaking a sweat and breaking the mold. After all, she’s 73.
“I actually love it,” Roberts said. “Some days when I’m listening to the weights and I’m doing my workout and the music’s blaring and I think, ‘I’m really here. I’m 73 and I’m doing this and I love it, and I can.”
Roberts began her Crossfit journey on her 65th birthday. She says it was a gift to herself, one that keeps on giving.
“I decided in order to keep up with the aging process, I needed to push myself a little harder than I had been,” she said.
That extra effort helped her bounce back after a knee replacement, and continue to do the things she loves like hiking and camping.
It’s that drive that catches the attention of others at the gym, too.
“She’s amazing. She inspires us everyday,” said Surette. “It’s incredible to see not only what her plan is when she comes into a workout and how she’s going to organize it, but her spirit and her drive to complete it.”
Sometimes her age forces her to modify the workouts, creating an added challenge, but one that’s easier to face with the support she gets from what she calls her second family at the gym.
“Even when you’re having a bad day, you come and everybody is supportive, and if you’re the last one finishing a workout, which I‘m quite familiar with, there’s always people around giving you that support and urging you on to finish,” Roberts said.
It’s that same energy and encouragement she gives back to others, who might find themselves where she once was.
“Doing something new can be very scary. It can be an emotional thing many times, it’s not just the physical aspect of it. Coming in the door, sometimes, really is the hardest part,” said Surette. “If you can make a connection with someone that you inspire to be like, it makes this a lot more enjoyable than feeling like you’re doing it alone, or you can’t do it. Well, you really can. It’s about stepping outside your comfort zone a little bit and giving it a go.”
It’s a method that, for Donna Roberts, has made all the difference.
“I really do try to live everyday by the theory that age is only a number, and most of the time I’m okay,” Roberts told us. “But there are days when I go, ‘darn, I’d like to be 30-40 years ago doing this, but I didn’t.
“But I started, and I’m here, and that’s the most important thing,” Roberts added with a smile.
This story is the first in a new series we’re working on here at ABC 7 and FOX 22, where we highlight people in our communities who are breaking the mold or going above and beyond, inspiring others to do the same.
If you know someone who inspires others to push themselves, we’d love to get to know them and feature them in this new series, Heart of Maine, which we plan to air every other Monday on ABC 7 News at 6 and Fox 22 News at 10.
You can get in contact with us by sending an email with ‘Heart of Maine’ in the subject line to [email protected]