Changemakers Gotta Move! Featuring Senior Fitness Specialist, Mariah Kaye
Changemaker Mariah Kaye was featured recently on the Win Win Women Show “On Your Own Terms”. It was great fun chatting with her about her changemaking work to support the ongoing fitness of seniors. It’s important that we keep moving if we are going to maintain our energy to create the changes we want to see in the world!
Tune into the show here (On Your Own Terms – Win Win Women – Win Win Women Network) and learn more about Mariah’s work a here.
If you subscribe to her weekly newsletter by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org, you’ll get the most delightful tips for ideas you’ve never thought of to keep yourself moving in simple, practical and FUN ways.
“I spent most of my adult life in the horticulture field. Weeding rich women’s backyards was my specialty. What I always knew is that weeding is not full body exercise.”
Mariah knew there was going to be a time when she needed additional ways to keep her body active. That opportunity came while working for the Seattle Parks Department. There she started helping people over 50 to train to walk half marathons. The process started with shorter walks and gradually built up to an eighth of a marathon, then a quarter of a marathon until participants were ready for the half marathon experience.
The initiative inspired Mariah greatly as she watched people grow in their strength and GLOW as they walked across the finish line.
“Some of those people are still my friends because we really bonded over those long walks around the lakes of Seattle.”
Mariah moved from the half marathon training program into teaching other types of general fitness for seniors using things like weights and poles. She was starting to become a bit bored with that approach and, just as she was beginning to look around for other options, COVID hit and classes had to be shut down.
At first, like many of us, Mariah was enthused about newfound time to walk as much as she wanted and to do other activities on her own terms. Soon though, she started to notice a decline in her own physical capacity. That’s when she started studying the idea of “functional fitness”.
“The whole idea is you don’t lift weights to lift weights, to see how many weights you can lift. You lift weights in a way so that you can put your luggage in the overhead compartment, which involves a turn, and it involves lifting and it involves balance …”
“Why not get functionally fit and make it playful, too? It actually turns out that being playful is the best way to keep our brains active and our bodies, too.”
Mariah started her business Move AnyWay Fitness to get folks to move anyway that feels good and supports their wellness and to move any way despite certain limitations. She currently has three course offerings throughout the week. You can learn more about each of them on her website.
- Ageless Grace
- Cardio Drumming and
- Stretch and Balance
Even with teaching all of these active courses that help others stay active, too, Mariah says she still needs more aerobic activity. That’s why she still walks quite a bit and, recently, added tap dancing to her repertoire.
“It’s fun to be a student for one thing and it’s fun to be doing a very different kind of activity besides all my walking while that’s still such a treat – going out and feeling nature around and letting it soak in.”
Mariah makes sure to build lots of “cross patterns” into her programs because she’s learned how helpful this practice is to strengthen the bridge between the two hemispheres in our brains. She also recommends doing things like counting backwards by 3’s or 7’s while we walk to build our coordination and brain function simultaneously. The more we can be playful, the better for our brains.
“It’s magic that all we have to do is play. So all the things we can learn from the kids, just take your pick and copy them! Here’s an idea! Get up and down from the floor for FUN!”
Making Connections with Mariah
Mariah’s work allows her to connect with people with a variety of needs and she’s seeing some great results in ways that may surprise you. When she taught about how our feet are constructed so that we should walk with the outsides of our feet parallel (which feels pigeon toed), one woman reported that she could suddenly wear 5 pairs of her shoes that hadn’t fit properly before!
Another student told her how much taller she feels after working with Mariah on posture exercises.
“I actually have another “secret agenda” with my work.”
Mariah’s “SECRET” Mission
As a “baby boomer”, Mariah says she’s also on a mission to figure out what happened to all of that activist energy from the 60’s.
“One huge answer to that is a lot of my cohort have grandkids and they’re putting a lot of love and energy and good stuff into the grandkids, but it seems to me like we need changemakers. I’m hoping if people start moving more, that means they can hurt less. They can be more active. And the activity of the body generates more aliveness.”
Mariah ran across this St. Augustine quote at a kick off for one of her half marathon events: “It is solved by walking.”
She carries that message with her every day.
“What I found is over time, walking is an amazing way to solve things and the more I walk, the more things of different qualities get solved. First of all, my body works things out and then whatever today’s challenges are. As I walk further, bigger problems start finding their way out… I would love people to move enough that they start dreaming about what their changemaker project is in the world!”
I think Mariah’s on to something! The more we move, the more we will be able to move and the more we can keep on keeping on to do the things we can, for as long as we can, to make the world a better place.