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Gym-loving Joyce finds her reason to be active

Joining her local gym was a life changing decision for Joyce Caruso. As told to Chelsea Roffey.

Please note that from 1.00pm Saturday 21 August 2021, Victoria’s COVIDSafe settings mean that gyms across Victoria are closed. For more information visit
Get Active Victoria provides free online classes with a wide range of workouts, challenges and games that are suitable for beginners through to more advanced.

I joined the gym as a dare. I didn’t know it at the time, but the decision would be a priceless investment in my future self.

The pivotal moment was 20 years ago when, at the age of 40, a girlfriend and I stepped into a gym for the first time. We decided to try everything on the menu and choose our favourites.

Spin was first, because we loved the fast pace, the equipment was easy to handle, and the early starts meant no-one else was really around.

Eventually I signed up for personal training, learned to use the equipment and developed the confidence to give anything a go. I’m the oldest lady in my circuit class, but it doesn’t bother me. I thrive on a little bit of healthy competition!

I weighed 72 kilograms when I joined the gym. I’m now 62 kilograms, a weight I’ve maintained for a long time. Practice and having the personal trainer motivated me to better myself.

Mentally, afterwards, I’m ready for more. It sets me up for the day.”

Strength-based workouts have become important over the years, in managing my osteoporosis, which requires yearly infusions to slow down bone loss and improve bone mass.

I’ve broken my hips, I’ve broken both wrists, ribs, elbows – you name it. I need to stay upright, so balance and weights are activities I have to do because any slight fall and I’m a goner – and I don’t want to be a goner!

My mother, father and sister have insulin dependent diabetes and I have a brother who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease at 30 years old. I am a strong believer that regular exercise has protected me from illness.

I now realise that weights are very important. I’ll always encourage new people, particularly if they’re a bit older or they’re new to class.

People think you have to use a heavy weight. But no – light weight and repetitiveness is what’s important. It’s all about trying and getting better.

It’s very welcoming at Carlton Baths. The trainer always says hello when you walk in. You see the same people, they say hello. I met a lady here two years ago. We’ve become great friends, and even travelled to Japan together. I probably see her every second day and there are a lot of people here I socialise with. It’s a very friendly, warm gym.

I might be lying in bed thinking, ‘Ah, I don’t feel like it today.’ But as soon as I get up and head to the gym, I know I’m here and I’m here for a reason. I want to get fitter and toned. I feel good at training. And when I walk out, I know I’ve done it and I can go and enjoy a cup of coffee. Mentally, afterwards, I’m ready for more. It sets me up for the day.

Joyce’s tips for gym newbies:

  • Start slowly.
  • Have a full assessment to gauge your fitness level and build confidence with the equipment.
  • Ask for help or advice. The staff on the floor are always happy to help.
  • Talk to people and encourage each other.

Picture: Mari Fenton

Last updated: August 23, 2021 at: 2:26 pm