Joyce Mah approaches life with openness and enthusiasm. It’s hard not to be inspired to do the same. Joyce first got into fitness when she was living in Texas and discovered a love of running and training with her late husband. After her husband passed away, she packed up and moved back to Vancouver. Now, in her sixties and enjoying retirement, Joyce lives a life filled with movement, adventure, and a deep appreciation for the earth that was cultivated from her travels through Peru, India, and Nepal.
What does your current fitness routine look like?
I go for a run every morning and then I pick up trash on and around the beaches and neighbourhood parks. This is part of my daily movement practice. I also do daily yoga and meditation. Sometimes I do push-ups, boxing, or spin. I love doing cartwheels. Some days I do a lot more than other days.
That’s really amazing that you help keep the city clean.
I want to maintain it for the next generation. I’m trying to educate people to be more environmentally friendly and that you have to care about the earth. If everybody were to just pick up two pieces of trash every day, it would make a huge difference.
Tell us a little bit about your history with movement.
I started working out after I had my second son. When we moved to Texas, my late husband and I joined a running club that met three times a week to train for races. I was running almost every day and doing marathons and mud runs where we had to crawl under wire and climb walls with rope. I spent time training at Equinox doing boot camps with former professional athletes and retired military drill sergeants.
Seven years ago, I got arthritis in both of my knees and I couldn’t walk down the stairs at one point, which was tough. I started working with a trainer who helped me build strength around my knees. And I eventually started cycling (being mindful of my limits) and got back into running. I’m so grateful I can run again.
Do you have any advice that you’ve learned in your years exploring movement that you would like to share?
Do things for enjoyment and take it easy on yourself. You know your body better than anyone else does –– do what you can and feel good about it. You’re only competing against yourself. Let everything else go and just focus on improving little by little.
What is your health and fitness philosophy?
Try everything. You might love it or you might not. I love boxing. I love lifting weights. I’ve enjoyed doing movement classes with NM teacher Slava Goloubov. The only thing I can’t do is swim, but I still enjoy staying in the shallow end. I also love hiking. I’ve done Machu Picchu and I was supposed to go and do Mount Everest Base Camp last year, but that was cancelled. I’m still going one day. I don’t know how much longer I’ve got and I just want to live my life, you know? Everyday I wake up and I’m grateful. I just try everything and I do my best.
Joyce approaches movement, and life, with a willingness to try everything and she has the stories to prove it. She believes that health is an investment that’s always worth what you put in. In addition to her passion for movement, Joyce is an advocate for the environment, both in her home city and afar. She is currently working to help raise money to clean up the Himalayas, rivers, lakes, valleys, and villages in Nepal.
This interview originally appeared in the April 16, 2021 edition of The Friday Letter.