On a picturesque morning in Cincinnati, while the dew glistened and the sun shone a golden hue, Kathy Lavelle threw a punch at a grown man’s face.
Actually it was several punches. They came in quick succession—one after the other after the other. She’d launch a few, switch her forward leg, then launch a few more. Her hips moved smoothly and effortlessly as she changed stances. Her guard was up, with her head and shoulders held back and tall, and she hurled jabs and uppercuts in the direction of trainer Brian Bradley until finally they both started laughing.
“See Kathy?” Bradley said. “You’re moving like a kid again.”
Indeed, someone watching this shadowboxing showdown would never guess Lavelle’s real age: 63. Her movements seem too fluid and graceful. Her energy level is sky high. She breathes heavily as she tosses her haymakers, but never slows down. But most striking of all is her posture: It’s picture perfect.
But it wasn’t always that way. In fact, just 12 weeks before, Lavelle confessed that becoming an old hunchback was her biggest fear.
“Dowager’s hump runs in my family,” Lavelle said. “I don’t want to be hunched over. So I’m constantly trying to remind myself to stand up straight.”
Today Lavelle says those worries are gone. After just three months of following the Elev8d Fitness program, Lavelle stands noticeably more upright—and says she does so without thinking about it.
“After you do the exercises, you actually feel taller,” Lavelle said. “I stopped having to tell myself, ‘shoulders back, shoulders back‘ all the time.”
It’s not a change Lavelle expected. In fact, when she started Elev8d Fitness, she was skeptical. She’s a no-nonsense nurse from Staten Island who’s worked in trauma and hospice units. She’s seen the realest of real. She’s married to a firefighter and is both a mother and a grandmother. She’s not one to buy into grandiose claims or woo theories. And while she loves being active, her doctors had been telling her for years that maybe she shouldn’t be.
“I used to run. I used to spin. They had told me I can’t do it anymore,” Lavelle said.
The docs had their reasons. Lavelle’s body took a beating during her years of nursing. A non-exhaustive list of the injuries she’s suffered include: herniated disc in her lower back, bulging disc in her neck, fractures in her spine, and fractures and neuromas throughout her feet. More recently, she was also dealing with sleep issues and irritable bowel syndrome.
“You push through it,” Lavelle said when asked how she gets through the day, just before starting the Elev8d Fitness program. “You have to. Or else you become a sedentary lump.”
But that was then. Today, after 12 weeks of Elev8d Fitness workouts, her back isn’t bothering her. Nor is her neck, or her stomach, or either of her feet. Lavelle has rediscovered her inner badass.
“One day my husband said to me, ‘You look really different. You look like those girls at the gym who slam down weights and go ROAR!'” Lavelle said with a laugh.
She didn’t have to go to the gym to get her newfound glow. In fact Lavelle didn’t need to go anywhere—her living room worked fine. Following Elev8d Fitness’s training program, she was able to get into the best shape of her life by training for as little as 8 minutes a day, using just her bodyweight, and performing exercises she could do anywhere.
“It really wasn’t hard,” Lavelle said. “That was the best part. It never felt like a chore. It’s fun. I felt stronger every week. Each week it got better and better.”
She started with the program’s 8-minute workouts. They were tough at first. She’d never performed exercises like Elev8d’s Bear Crawls, which are akin to a bent-knee Downward Facing Dog plus some movement forward, backward or sideways.
“During my first workout, I hated them. I could only do two,” Lavelle said of the crawls. But times change. “Now they’re my favorite. I can do 10!”
Lavelle found that, within a few weeks, she had the energy to train a little longer. She worked up to the program’s 16-minute long option. A few weeks after that, she took it up another notch.
“By the end I was doing 24 minute workouts—I would combine them both,” Lavelle said, adding that she sometimes trained six times a week just because she could. “I’d get the same great feeling I got at the gym or at spin. But it doesn’t take as much time.”
The workouts have had a tremendous impact on her body—and her life.
“Sure, I feel stronger. I feel straighter. I’m less afraid of being hurt,” Lavelle said. “But what’s even better than that is: I can participate in the things I love. I can garden. I play with my grandchild. I can run around the house faster.”
On this morning in Cincinnati, Lavelle shows she can do one more thing: Keep a younger, bigger man who has a full-time job in fitness on his toes. After she and Bradley finish their faux sparring match, they move on to other full-body moves like Hip Switches and Finish Line Abs. The exercises are fun yet demanding, but that doesn’t appear to be a problem for Lavelle. After the workout, it’s clear she has a lot left in the tank. She’s smiling. Her skin shines like the sun on the dew of the grass around her. She’s standing tall.
“It’s almost like taking a shot of adrenaline,” Lavelle said. “I feel better all over.”