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Earl E. Gibson III
Earl E. Gibson III
Health

Get Fit and Fly at 50+

A top Instagram fitness influencer shares her enjoyable plan for staying tight and toned. You can start your own with just 10 minutes a day.

Influencer Carla Kemp, 58, is a personal assistant and real estate investor in Los Angeles. But one look at her Instagram stories (@fabnfitbycarla) shows that more than 40,000 followers consider her their muscle-toning muse. Almost 3,000 of them heartily approve of that poolside shot of her in a magenta, patterned, bikini and ultra-wide brimmed hat. But as striking as her firm abs, sculpted shoulders, lovely legs and “I’m loving life” vibe is a thick head of shoulder-grazing, salt and pepper tiny locs. She’s good with being gray — and gorgeous.

After having her daughter in 1984, Carla was determined to get back to a healthy weight. That motivated her to join a gym. Once she saw the results of regular workouts, she says, she never looked back.

But it doesn’t take decades of commitment to do your body good. If you’re inspired to move more, get your doctor’s OK as you select the activities that can help keep you agelessly alluring — like Carla! 

Her workout routine


I choose different fitness components to focus on each day, without having to spend hours each time working out. I do cross-training — yoga for flexibility and a cardiovascular workout for my heart, like a spin class two or three times a week. Then I'll follow that up with ab work or stretching. The other three days I focus on weight training, with free weights or machines.

The music that keeps her motivated


I love Motown, old-school music. I walk in with my music in my ears and leave with my music; that keeps me motivated and going. If I forget my music, I'm like, “Oh no, what am I going to do?"

How she mixes it up


When I get burned out, I'll hire a trainer or I'll take on new activities. Those have included joining a swim team, playing tennis and training for a marathon. I'm just kind of an adventurous person by spirit. I like trying new things. Roller skating is my new hobby. It's a great workout.

Her best get-started advice


Establish a daily routine that you can stick to. If you haven't been doing anything, start with something not too aggressive, like a 10-minute walk, then slowly add on to it. You'll notice you start looking forward to it.

You also need to make the correlation that exercise is just like brushing your teeth, just like combing your hair — it's something you have to do. Once you start doing it, you will stop fighting it; it will become a normal part of what you do.

What she eats throughout the day


Breakfast: I drink a protein shake or fruit with a little yogurt, granola, nuts or seeds. I try to eat whatever fruit is in season.

Lunch: Simple works for me: salad with greens, kale, arugula, veggies, nuts and maybe some fruit in it. I do think a crunch factor is good, as it helps satisfy you — cucumbers, carrots, radishes, broccoli.

Dinner: I like to have some type of warm vegetables over a salad or rice or couscous, warm cauliflower steak, sweet potatoes.

Nighttime: Popcorn, that's my treat. I drizzle some olive oil on it and sprinkle on sea salt. I air-pop it. I don't have a microwave.

How she indulges, just a little


If I'm out with a girlfriend and she's having something I wouldn't typically eat, like a dessert or fried food, I might indulge in it. I just don't go overboard. I'll also have a cocktail out occasionally.

How age factors into her workout


I spend more time warming up. I also notice that weight training is so critical to hold on to muscle tone. I always knew flexibility was important, but now I realize it even more. I don't feel the need to be working out at the intensity that I was when I was in my 20s and 30s. Strength training, breaking a sweat and consistency is now key. I'm kind of taking the easier approach because I don't want to cause an injury — even a minor one. If something made me stop, I would just be a wreck.

We hear you, Carla! To quote Motown legend Eddie Kendricks, “Keep on Truckin’!” 

This story was adapted from aarp.org. To get more inspiration from fitness influencers over 50, click here.

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