According to 84-year-old Del Dilkie, age is just a number
When Del Dilkie was 73 years young, she was already exceeding societal expectations of fitness for a senior citizen with a daily fitness regime that would challenge most in their 30s. Not seeing the results she would have liked, Del decided to up the ante on the advice of her instructor and start training for competitive bodybuilding. Did I mention she was 73 at the time?
What followed was intense weight training, three trophies and many heads turned at competitions. But such is the discipline and passion for health and exercise that has fuelled Del’s desire to live life to the fullest and smash expectations.
Looking back 10 years ago (Del turns 84 on November 17) she wonders how she managed to compete successfully in bodybuilding for several years when the rest of her competitors were in their 20s, 30s, or at most, in their 40s.
“I know that without exercise, I would feel so much older.”
“They looked at me like I had two heads at first, and were very surprised, but everyone was so proud of me also,” she says. “But those years made me realize that you have to work hard to get healthy. It takes lots of discipline, diet and dedication.”
Del’s journey into a lifetime of fitness began much earlier in her 30s, when she began do visit health spas in the U.S. due to a lack of suitable facilities in Canada, and immediately she became hooked on health.
“I would go for a week to 10 days and come out six to eight pounds lighter, and I just couldn’t believe the results,” she says.
Ever since then, Del has made exercise a daily part of her routine, but has also managed to be a successful business owner both in Edmonton and abroad.
In her 40s, she opened Del’s on 9th Fashionable Finds, a unique discount store for women that carried designer fashions, both new and consigned, which she owned and operated for more than 30 years before retiring in 2008.
“My body is used to exercise now, so when I do take a day off, my body cries to get back into it.”
Several years later, she took her love for business and exercise abroad and opened up a gym in Guayabitos, Mexico, even though she was told it would never happen.
“When I was there, I couldn’t find a place to work out so I looked around to open my own gym. People said it couldn’t be done, but that just made me more determined. So, I went to the local mayor and the bank manager and within four years that goal became a reality.”
But those who know Del will tell you that nothing she does surprises them, as she has more drive and energy than people half her age.
As an example, her daily/weekly exercise regime consists of a minimum on one hour per day on her own doing 20 minutes on the treadmill, 15 minutes on a yoga ball, and various other exercises including weights, squats, lunges and more and tries to finish each routine with a dip in the pool for some aquacise. Del also trains twice a week with a personal trainer at the YMCA to make sure she maintains proper technique and variety.
“He really keeps on changing my routine almost daily to keep me interested. My body is used to exercise now, so when I do take a day off, my body cries to get back into it,” says Del.
But what keeps her so motivated at her age, when many others are doing much less?
“I do it because I care about myself, first and foremost, but also because I feel much better. It has nothing to do with age, because age is just a number. I know that without exercise, I would feel so much older. But with exercise, I feel so good. I say a little prayer before bed because I have a lot to be thankful for.”