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Life Just Goes On Until Death Stops It

By Janis McDonald

One week before she died, Dotty Vidargas, 87, was on the gym floor, stretching her leg towards her head joking with Michael Sudheer, her workout partner, as she challenged him to a stretching contest.

Dotty came to San Miguel de Allende in the late ‘40s, a single woman looking for adventure and art. Always an athlete, she rode and jumped whatever horses she could find and made the first hole-in-one at Malanquín Golf Course, while starting a successful real estate and interior design company.

Over the years Dotty adjusted her sports as she grew older, giving up high wild jumping horses for golf. Once mastering the sport, she gave it up due to a back injury. Once again, she returned to horses and studied dressage. Dotty’s life emulated my motto, “Live Like You Can!”

In 2004, Dotty showed up at my gym after recovering from a horseback-riding fall. At 81, she needed to get back in shape for her busy and committed life of running three businesses, a large household and continuing her work as a historic preservation activist.

When Michael Sudheer joined Dotty as her workout partner, I never imagined it would last. To be truthful, she was yin to his yang. Over the years, a deep bond of respect and friendship was built, creating “The Dynamic Workout Duo!”

Three mornings a week, we would perform various physical workouts while discussing “What’s Next?” on our life agenda. Dotty, a true lifelong rebel who was game for anything, inspired me to expand my thinking about aging. At 54, feeling 30 and forever young, I was certain any physical issue was fixable.

Seems like yesterday when Dotty said, “Janis, you need to understand, there is a certain age when some things like back pain are never going away. Our mission now is to maintain the pain at this level, and look forward to the certain days it feels better.”

Horrified, I thought, “What do you mean we can’t solve pain issues permanently?” My cheerleader attitude and younger body was in shock! “Helping people get better,” had been my lifelong mission statement.

After my recent three-year hip replacement denial journey, I understood exactly what Dotty was saying. Going through my surgery experience as a trainer helped me understand how a body ages in real time. “Helping people feel better,” is my current mission now. Changing one word made all the difference for me. Acceptance of what is, what can be done to feel better and taking it one day at a time.

More fun started when Dangerous Dotty and Super Sudheer began boxing workouts. Boxing is an incredible workout, especially for mature people.

As a trainer, I knew boxing offered older clients an array of benefits such as thinking fast on your feet, better reaction time, agility, balance, coordination, training fast-twitch muscles fibers (the ones we lose with aging), an interval cardio workout plus major stress reduction.


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