By Sarah Junkin, and photos by Elegant Images


Calgary fitness expert Gloria Mohninger is living proof you can make your dreams come true at any age!

Gloria Mohninger is a body builder who routinely competes against women half her age – and it’s all the more surprising because she only started in the field a few years ago. “I was always interested in fitness competitions,” she said. “But I never thought I was good enough. But one day in 2008, I dug really deep. I thought about what I wanted to do with the rest of my life and then I said it out loud.” This may seem like a small gesture, but Mohninger believes that simply articulating aloud your goals helps solidify commitment and desire. “I was scared, but I knew I had to start somewhere,” said the personal trainer who works at two Calgary fitness facilities. “Eight weeks later I was on the stage for the first time. I didn’t do super well, but it showed me what I needed to do, the structure I needed.” Mohninger— who admits with a laugh that she was in part attracted to fitness competitions because of the bling, the high heel shoes and the sparkly costumes  contacted professionals to help her, and as she improved her form and continued competing, she began placing in competitions around North America. “Most of the other girls are between 20 and 30, but I don’t know if I’d have been disciplined enough then. But now, this is my time, and I feel strong and honestly now I am more comfortable on stage than when I walk down the street,” says Gloria.

Mohninger placed third in the 2013 National Physique Committee (NPC) Emerald Cup Masters over 40 Class A. This allowed her to later compete in the International Federation of Body Builders (IFBB) Northt American Championships where she placed fifth. NPC is the largest amateur bodybuilding organization in the United States, and IFBB is bodybuilding’s international professional organization. At press time, Mohninger was preparing to travel to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for the 2014 IFBB North American Championships.

As a professional trainer Mohninger says she understands not just the importance of physical fitness, but the power inherent in being able to follow your dreams, regardless of age. “For me they’re entwined,” she said. “Physical fitness empowers you mentally. You have to move your body, and if you do, you’ll golf longer in life, you’ll have more strength to garden, and ultimately you’ll live in your own home longer and that’s what we all want ultimately. It’s so important.” The Vancouver-born and Calgary-raised trainer has worked with many seniors over the years. “The thing is that joints may know they’re old, but muscles don’t, so older people can easily maintain good muscle mass,” she explained. “If you’re stronger you look better, if you work on glute strength you can get up and down better and if you strengthen your core, your entire body benefits, so all of that is important.” But Mohninger also acknowledges it’s not necessarily always easy. Many of her clients have suffered difficult hardships and obstacles in life, and working out isn’t always painless or convenient. “I’ve heard it all, and I know how easy it is to get in a rut,” she said. “It puts me in a more grateful place, but I understand it. I’ve been there.” And Mohninger’s advice for seniors contemplating a decision to finally make their long-held dreams a reality? “Say it aloud,” she said with a chuckle. “It’s a good place to start. And it worked for me.”