What a powerhouse this woman is! Ginny is real life ninja, mother, actress and all around bold adventurer! At 67 she completely embodies strength and resilience and is deeply devoted to helping other women realize that strength is ageless.
Get connected with Ginny!
What do you do?
I'm an actress, career-wise and will appear as a Supporting actress next summer (2019) in the movie POMS, with Diane Keaton, Rhea Perlman, Pam Grier, and Jacki Weaver. I began training for American Ninja Warrior 3 years ago and I competed on the show Season 9 & 10 and do regional ninja competitions. I'm a ninja!
What else do you do?
I also started competing in Senior Swim meets this year and train 3 days a week for an hour and a half each time. I did my first Obstacle Course Race (Rugged Maniac) this year and loved working as a team and helping others over the obstacles. And above all, I like trying new things, new adventures.
How do you define the word 'strength'?
Strength to me is getting up after a fall, "fail" or obstacle and trying it again. It's having the courage to try. It's conquering fears. Pushing past failure to success. No one teaches us how to recover from failure. But it really gives us strength, understanding and compassion. Every Fail is a lesson and helps you to grow and become stronger.
How did you discover your passion?
My parents allowed me to follow my dreams of being a dancer and I moved to NYC from Tennessee when I was 20. Dance gave me a discipline for life. I danced professionally for 10 years including the hit Broadway show, 'Pippin'... then raised a family while doing national TV commercials. (Some can be seen on youtube still and are classics, like Sizzlean, Folgers, Wonder Bread, GM, etc.) When my marriage fell apart, I had to move and stop acting and get a REAL job for 20 years! It was a huge struggle to work and raise young children! I learned if something had to be done, I had to do it! But when I retired, I resurrected that dream and got back to acting in the Southeast 3 years ago. But strength training was totally unexpected! It was like I started doing everything that I couldn't do for those 20 years. My daughter, Jessie Graff, was making a name for herself on American Ninja Warrior and breaking barriers for women. American Ninja Warrior is the only sport where men and women compete together. She was the first women to complete STAGE 1 and 2 on the show. She is so strong and I was impressed by how wonderful and healthy she looked. I told her I wanted to get stronger...she said, "do pull ups"! And, at 63 I tried, but had no upper body strength. My generation of women were not encouraged to build muscles. It was not considered feminine. But with the help of a personal trainer, working toward an attainable goal of 5 pull ups, (it took me 1 year to get 1 pull up) what seemed impossible, became possible! I can now do 10 and pushed the goal to 12!
How do you incorporate movement into your daily lifestyle?
I'm a firm believer in exercise of some sort 6 days a week: 2-3x weight bearing; 4x aerobic (it's ok to do strength and aerobic on the same day) But that can be walking, biking, swimming, kyaking, yoga, or any type of movement. But I also make a game of everything and find new ways to fit in some movement.. like I do calf raises while I brush my teeth for the allotted 2 minutes. I balance on one foot then the other while washing the dishes. Balance is so important as we age! I work on hand grip when I drive. I stretch when I watch TV.
Where would be a good starting point for someone who is looking to add more movements into their life like what you do?
A starting point would definitely be walking and build up the distance and the cardio ability so that you get the heart rate up. When you're over 60 and just starting, it has to be slow. I recommend a personal trainer before lifting weights as it is too easy to hurt yourself if not done properly. Take baby steps and remain positive. But mostly, find something you enjoy, or a partner to do it with. Makes it so much more fun. And I'm about making fitness fun!
How do you define 'fitness'?
Fitness is when you feel good physically and mentally. It's an energy and zest for life!
Does movement increase your self-confidence? If yes, how?
ABSOLUTELY! I always feel accomplished after taking a class or learning a new obstacle. When I push through and learn to do something I never knew I could do, I feel great about myself! It is documented that exercise fights depression and lifts your mood!
What motivates the crap out of you? (quote, music, people, sport, etc)?
Besides my going crazy about the health benefits of exercise...I would add: Team work. It's cool to be supportive of others and to work together for a common goal. When someone says I inspire them...it inspires me right back and keeps me going. If I can inspire one person to get up and get moving, I am ecstatic! I love cheering others on as they accomplish goals and vice versa!
Where do you see the future of the fitness?
I would like to see fitness improve as the population ages. Many feel it's too late to get started, but I'm living proof that you can build strength at any age. Women will be leading the way in fitness in the future and continue to learn that they can be strong in their own endeavors. Age and inexperience shouldn't be barriers, they are just part of the journey. It's slowly coming around. Doctors are recommending lifting weights to strengthen bone density. This happened to me! In 2016, I was diagnosed with osteopenia. In 2018, after starting strength training, it changed to NORMAL. People lose bone mass at a rate of 1%/year. 20 million American women have osteoporosis, with 3 million cases per year. Weight bearing exercise is just a MUST in our physical fitness programs. The #1 killer of women is heart disease. Exercise reduces the risk of heart attack and lots of cancers. It helps memory, mood, balance and flexibility. And once started on a good exercise program, you naturally get a better understanding of nutrition. I would love to see people's minds change to get healthy and fit with exercise and movement rather than always dieting to lose weight. Muscles are healthy! I get pretty passionate about this!
What advice do you wish you could have given your former self?
Don't compare yourself with others. It's you against the obstacle. And as long as you keep moving forward, you are winning. Don't punish yourself. One fall doesn't define you. Look at all you have gained thus far. Drink more water. Don't overdo it. Have rest days. I love the quote by Winston Churchill "Success is not final. Failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts."
Anything else you'd like to share with us?
I wish we could all learn how to love being ourselves. And know that we are all special in our very own ways. I don't think we know how strong we really are. Fears get in our way. We have to test our limits, safely. I never knew I could do what I'm doing! Fitness can be fun. If I can do it at age 67, you can too! Do it for your health!