“There is no substitute for hard work and dedication,” says personal trainer Beau Ray Bowles of 24 Hour Fitness Mission Hills Super-Sport in Mission Hills, California, “[and member] Marilyn Van Dyke is a prime example of exactly that.”

At 63 years old, Van Dyke is a surfer, snowboarder and—this June—a marathoner. But she didn’t always used to be. Until recently, Van Dyke says she went to the gym two or three times a week, hopping on an elliptical (which she admits she chose purely based on its orange color). Often, she would drive right past the gym on her way home from work, she says, without batting an eye.

It wasn’t until Bowles approached her about personal training that Van Dyke even realized there was an alternative to what she was doing.

“I had never heard of weight training or strength training, and I thought I was too old for any of that kind of stuff,” Van Dyke says.

She’d even been told by medical professionals that being on two medications for hypertension was “normal” and that all women older than 55 years of age took these types of medications. “I thought I was just plain old and that was just the way it was. It was just out of my control,” she says.

But Bowles saw her potential. From his perspective, “Fitness is a lifestyle [choice] that impacts everyone’s life—inside and outside the gym. … Fitness is not just for athletes. It’s for everyone.”

After some gentle convincing, Van Dyke agreed to dive head-first into a routine. She even set fitness goals for herself.

“When I first met Marilyn, she told me one of the things she always wanted to do was run a marathon, but she was scared she was too old and weak,” Bowles says. “After working with me, she built the strength and confidence to sign up for not one but two marathons!”

According to Van Dyke, she has made huge strides in her fitness journey. She says she’s lost 20 pounds, no longer needs blood pressure medications, has lowered her cholesterol and, most important, has a renewed joy for life.

“Thanks to 24 Hour Fitness and Beau, I have a whole new passion: being strong and fit,” she says, which in turn allows her to be more present for others and even dance the night away. “I know that I can do these things and will continue to get stronger and faster, thanks to my personal trainer.”

After all her hard work and dedication, Van Dyke will run in her first marathon this summer.

And as for Bowles, he says it’s been an honor to watch Van Dyke on her fitness journey and that she’s inspired him to “stick with it” because “age is just a number,” he says. And when he needs a little extra motivation, he asks himself, “What would Marilyn do?”

Photo: doble-d, iStock