Ginny MacColl never played a competitive sport until her 60s. From the third grade to her 30s, she was a trained dancer—eventually landing an understudy role on Broadway’s Pippin within the ‘70s.
Then, at age 63, she took up obstacle courses. “I used to be inspired by my daughter, Jessie Graff—who’s been on American Ninja Warrior for 10 seasons now,” MacColl says. “I saw how strong, healthy, and delightful she looked—and I desired to be strong, in order that’s how this whole ninja thing began.”
At the behest of the American Ninja Warrior casting department, who had seen her in a segment understanding alongside Graff, MacColl competed in her first Ninja obstacle course on the show six years ago.
As we chat about her accomplishments on a video call, MacColl shares a chunk of wisdom she’s learned over her seven many years. “It’s never too late to begin,” she tells Well+Good with a confident smile on her face. “There are people of their 80s and 90s which are finding great abilities in strength training just using resistance bands.”
“You must consider in yourself and what you possibly can do,” MacColl adds. “The mental component, I believe, is one in every of the toughest things in all of this. But you need to find your passion, commit to it, and make it a habit.”
Ninja athlete Ginny MacColl, 71, shares her workout regimen
In her six years competing within the highly physical game show, MacColl has needed to perfect a workout routine that helps support her goal of being strong and keeping movement in her life. “Moving parts don’t rust,” she says.
Needless to say, it takes a variety of time, effort, and discipline to be a ninja athlete. MacColl works out five to 6 days every week, then prioritizes rest on the times she isn’t within the gym or at an obstacle course. Here’s what her regimen looks like:
Let or not it’s known that the oldest female ninja athlete on the earth loves workouts that help improve her balance.
“Balance work is so hard and so necessary for our quality of life,” says MacColl. To that end, she’ll practice yoga a pair times every week to strengthen, stretch, and construct her muscles. “I used to be becoming too tight and never as flexible as I was once—which may very well be age, too,” she adds. Taking up a daily yoga practice has helped combat that.
MacColl breaks up her strength training between push workouts (i.e. movements that require you to push upward or outward) that focus on her chest, triceps, and shoulders, and pull days, which concentrate on her back and biceps—aka the pulling muscles. “I’ll do TRX training and a variety of work on my back because that’s what it is advisable to do an excellent pull-up,” MacColl says.
And she’s careful to not neglect leg workouts. “I can’t say I like squats, but I do them,” she says, laughing. “I work on jumps and lunges for explosive power. I’ll also go up and down the steps or hop on the elliptical,” she says. “I like to vary it up.”
“I can not say I like squats, but I do them.” —Ginny MacColl
MacColl does cardio workouts 4 times every week, typically by swimming. “I’ll swim with a club and a coach,” she says. (In fact, the morning of our interview, MacColl was at her swim club.) She also swims competitively on the National Senior Games.
Agility on the obstacle course
As a competitor on American Ninja Warrior, MacColl hits an outside obstacle course twice every week to maintain those skills fine-tuned.
The exercise that MacColl swears by to maintain her core strong
When I ask MacColl for one in every of her favorite workouts, she mentions a five-step core exercise—which she lights up talking about. This series, she says, has her “dying by the top of the workout.”
Here’s how she does it:
1. Do a hole hold for 30 seconds. “Lying in your back, you pull in your ribs and abs while holding your arms and your legs up [at approximately 45 degrees],” says MacColl. (Note: You start by lying in your back, but whenever you raise your arms, your upper back and legs are off the ground.)
2. Do 10 V-Ups. Also called “jackknifes,” this move starts by lying on the ground along with your arms prolonged overhead, then—using your core— you lift each legs and upper body off the bottom. “You concurrently reach your arms and your legs toward one another,” MacColl instructs.
3. Go right right into a flutter kick for 30 seconds. (Read: Don’t lie down.) You perform this flutter kick by bringing your back and feet up about 45 degrees, then quickly kicking your feet up and down.
4. Do 10 knee-ups. Still along with your back raised, bend your knees in order that they form a 90-degree angle and face the ceiling. Then, bring your knees toward your brow. (Almost like a crunch, but along with your lower body crunching in while your upper body stays still.)
5. Do scissor kicks for 30 seconds. To do a scissor kick, bring your knees up and keep them barely bent. Kick them up slower and better than you probably did within the flutter kick.
Don’t stop her now
So what’s next for MacColl? Initially, she began her American Ninja Warrior profession to be as strong as her daughter and have something that they might do together. Netting a Guinness World Record has only given her much more motivation to maintain at it.
“I never knew that it may lead to being the oldest [woman to be a Ninja athlete],” MacColl says. “I’m going to must keep going so I can make sure that no one else beats it.”