Interview with: Carla Kemp
Photography by: Earl E Gibson lll
When sixty-year-old fitness enthusiast Carla Kemp lost her job a few years ago, her daughter suggested she become an online influencer.
Much to her surprise, this career shift worked out. Kemp now shares her fitness and health advice on both her website and Instagram, has been recognized by OprahDaily.com as one of the best influencers over fifty, and is helping to redefine the fitness possibilities available later in life.
What message would you like to share with older individuals like yourself or those looking to create a healthier lifestyle?
You need to focus on being the best version of yourself. Some people give up when they get older, but you shouldn’t. You can be fabulous and fit no matter what your age. If you aren’t active, you could start by walking twice a week and build from there. Add your workouts to your schedule, and try to make them happen at the same time every day. Sign up for a fun class like dancing, or revisit an activity you used to enjoy, such as Hula-Hooping, playing hopscotch, or roller-skating. Put yourself first, and make it a priority.
Do you think your work helps redefine what life can be like over fifty?
Yes, definitely. I get a lot of comments from younger women who say I’m what they want to be when they’re my age. There were a lot of women I looked up to when I was a teenager, too, like Beverly Johnson, Leslie Uggams, Tina Turner, and Eartha Kitt.
Have you been into fitness all your life?
I wasn’t athletic growing up, but I started exercising after the birth of my daughter, about forty years ago. I was hoping to get back into an old pair of jeans, so I joined a gym and started working out.
What is your fitness routine, and where do you go to exercise?
I work out for about an hour five to six days a week. I call my workout space my “she room.” I have a Peloton bike and adjustable free weights. You don’t need a lot of expensive equipment to be healthy—you can use your body weight or workout bands for an effective workout.
What do you do to stay healthy?
I mix it up. It’s important to do a combination of aerobics, strength training, and stretching. Aerobics strengthens your heart and lungs, weight training keeps your bones strong, and stretching helps you to stay flexible. I also try to avoid sugar, meat, and processed foods. I eat a lot of fruits, veggies, beans, and whole grains.
Do you change your exercise routine as the seasons change?
Yes. Summer is my favorite season—I love the warmth. I enjoy swimming, walking along the beach, and hiking. I like to be outdoors, and the weather is always perfect in California. But if you live somewhere where it is too hot to exercise, get up a little bit earlier and take a nice stroll in the morning or wait until the afternoon. Water aerobics is a fun option, too, since it’s easy on the joints.
How has your devotion to fitness influenced your life?
It has enhanced my quality of life. I can do anything I want to because I have no physical restrictions. If I want to run, jump, skip, or climb, I can do it. My interest in fitness has also helped me to make an income as an influencer.
What hobbies do you enjoy besides fitness?
I like to travel. One of my favorite places is the Greek island of Santorini, which I visited with my daughter. When I travel, I do a lot of walking—that’s how I sightsee. I don’t get in a taxi or call an Uber. I walk for hours. If there is a gym at the hotel, I might use it, but if there is a bicycle I can use and a biking trail nearby, I’d rather do that.
You recently traveled solo to Spain for a Pilates and yoga retreat. Did it take a lot of courage to do that?
I had two choices—I could stay home or go by myself. I chose the latter and put my fear aside. I did my research, and it turned out to be a wonderful experience. I felt empowered, and when I arrived, I had a big smile on my face. I met many people and made new relationships. I also traveled by myself abroad the week before and the week after, and I would do it again. Eating by myself at restaurants was a little challenging, but I got past it, and it was all good.
What do you think your younger self would think of where you are now?
She would be extremely proud. There were moments when I couldn’t see the picture clearly, but it is in focus now. My life has become more than what I expected, and there is still more to come. So far, it has been a blessing.
For more info, visit fabnfitbycarla.com