Inspire: Angela McCarthy – Keeping fit, both physically and mentally

By Janelle Davis

Success depends on your backbone, not your wishbone. This is a quote that Angela McCarthy has lived by her whole life.

Part of Angela’s inspiration to live a healthy lifestyle has been her family. Growing up, she watched her mom struggle with weight management, high blood pressure, and other health problems. Other members of the maternal side of her family experienced heart disease at an early age and obesity. “It wasn’t a healthy way to live, and that’s what I saw growing up,” Angela shared.

Alternatively, Angela was motivated by the longevity of her dad’s side. Most family members lived into their nineties. Angela’s daughter, Lisa McCarthy remembers her grandpa, “He was always active, even as a senior. He was always doing something, whether it be gardening, riding a bike, or dancing.”

Angela shares that Lisa has also inspired her to stay active and healthy. “She is my biggest cheerleader. Lisa has always had a high fitness level. She has run many marathons and continues to run every day.”

Raising three kids in the 1960s, Angela still found ways to keep active. If you were a fly on the wall of Angela’s living room, you would catch her working out to Jack LaLanne on her TV. “That was my initial introduction to exercise, besides cheerleading in high school,” Angela said.

When Angela’s third child entered elementary school, more fitness opportunities opened for her. At that time, her passion for fitness flourished. “To the embarrassment of my children, I decided to take belly dancing at the YWCA, which was very popular at the time,” Angela remembered. Angela has loved dance her whole life, so it was a no-brainer for her to join. They made their own folk costumes and performed for friends and at local malls.

To supplement Angela’s fitness activities, she started incorporating strength workouts. “Strength training is essential to help your muscles support your skeletal system. It helps alleviate if you were to fall or experience any other injuries.”

She joined Kelly Lyn Figure Spa, which was exclusively for women. The owner couldn’t help but notice Angela’s enthusiasm while working out, so she offered her a job instructing fitness classes. “I thought, well I don’t have experience instructing but in the early phases of the fitness craze you didn’t need certification. The owner handed me a Jazzercise book and I put a class together and started teaching aerobics,” Angela explained.

Realizing she wanted to continue instructing fitness classes, Angela moved forward by taking fitness workshops at Cazenovia College. She wanted to ensure that the routines she was putting together were safe for members. “I was able to learn about kinesiology, skeletal structure, body movement, and muscle growth and apply them to safe classes,” Angela described.

For 10 years, until she had to get a full-time job, Angela taught a variety of fitness classes at the Fairmount Athletic Club, BlueCross BlueShield, and other fitness clubs.

Forever cognizant of fitness, health, and weight management, Angela is aware of other contributing factors to a healthy lifestyle, including socialization and spending time with friends.

“It gives me such comfort knowing that my mom has her network of friends. She has her church friends, fitness friends, and another group she can meet with every morning. It helps me to know that she has that bond with other people outside of our friendship, especially with my dad passing,” Lisa shared.

Angela explains that you have to make your own life and not expect your children to fill all the voids. “You raise your kids to spread their wings and fly, and of course, they are still a part of your life, but you have to live your own.”

To Angela, healthy senior living means to just move. ”I know so many people my age who struggle. They just have to move. Find something that you enjoy and want to keep doing.” She mentioned the new pickleball courts that opened at Onondaga Lake Park and how new opportunities pop up everywhere for all capabilities. She continued, “There are good days and not-so-good days. Trust me, I have days I don’t want to do it, but I am always grateful and always feel better after. Not only physically, but mentally.”

Angela shared how beneficial staying active has helped her with the recent loss of her husband of 61 years. She explained how having a workout structure has helped her mental state, rather than sitting and ruminating.

The old cliche is true, Angela said, you are what you eat. She sets a great example by eating a salad a day. “I try to put as many vegetables in there as I can, and I keep the fat and sugar content low. There are so many processed foods out there that lack nutrition.”

When asked what advice she could give people of all ages, Angela says to keep going. If you are having an off day, know that tomorrow is a new day.

“I think if you watch your diet, limit alcohol, try not to smoke, exercise, get sleep, and socialize you’re on a path to success.” She explains that spirituality is also important, no matter what your higher power is. She continues, “Be confident in yourself, love yourself and others, stay close to your family, and live an authentic life.”

Angela continues to take care of herself and be an inspiration to others. She has two gym memberships at Elevate and Planet Fitness. She takes weightlifting classes two to three times a week. She also keeps up with her cardio by walking and riding her recumbent bike. “I encourage people to find what they love in order to stay healthy and active,” Angela advised.