She's in the best shape of her life. Her secret?
If you follow former U.S. Ski Team racer and two-time World Extreme champion Kim Reichhelm on Instagram, you probably saw her post about doing 60 pull-ups on her 60th birthday. She was at her home on the coast of Baja, where she spends her summers surfing, and she finished them in a bikini that showed off toned muscles and a physique that looks like it belongs to someone half her age. What’s her secret? Ironically, it lies partly in acceptance.
“I embrace getting older,” she said during a recent interview. “The way I see it, you either get older or die. Once you realize that, the option of living is great. I’m proud of my age.”
That’s not to say that she’s laissez-faire about the aging process. “I work my ass off,” she said, her toothy grin creasing her eyes with laugh lines. “My job is to be an athlete, and it’s my responsibility to stay strong.” She stays fit mostly through doing the sports she loves, like surfing and skiing, and then augments that with home workouts. “I do a ton of lunges and squats, and I have a spin bike. I don’t really have a set routine, because I base it around what sport I’m doing for fun.”
Reichhelm also believes that learning new things, regardless of your age, keeps you young because your body and mind are designed to respond to challenges. “I started surfing when I was 40, and kiting when I was 45. Water sports are good as you age because when you fall, you fall in water, and you can take chances.”
Though she’s been an athlete her whole life, she—like the rest of us—struggles sometimes to motivate herself. “I honestly hate working out,” she admits, and frequently skips workouts when she’s not feeling it. Allowing herself the freedom to be human actually helps keep her on track in the long term, because she avoids the shame spiral that prevents some people from coming back after a lapse. “I’m not perfect. And being OK with the imperfections makes it easier to get back in and grind when I have to.”
The other thing she has to manage as she ages is her pain. Thanks to a lifetime of bashing gates and hucking cliffs (check out her epic crashes as seen on David Letterman in 1990), she’s had nine major orthopedic surgeries, including a hip replacement. She’s always been open to alternative medicine, so she started using CBD years ago when her massage therapist introduced her to it. “At the time I was recovering from shoulder surgery, and I wasn’t taking any of the other pain meds because I don’t think they’re good for me. I found CBD reduced the pain significantly,” she said. “I also have a lot of arthritis in my hands and knuckles, and the CBD helps so much with that.”
When it comes to diet, she doesn’t have any specific regimen, but generally eats healthily. “I love to cook. I eat tons of fruit and vegetables, lots of fish, and some chicken and pork. I don’t eat a lot of red meat—but I do love burgers sometimes. I do find carbs make me tired, so I stay away from them.” She also only eats when she’s hungry, and often has her biggest meal in the early afternoon. “Sometimes I eat apples and cheese for dinner. But I do love having guests, and we’ll sit down and have a nice dinner and drink some wine. I like to enjoy it.”
Overall, Reichhelm believes that aging well is a choice, just like happiness. Every situation has positive and negative sides, she said, and we can choose which ones to focus on. “When I look at myself, do I see crooked teeth or a beautiful smile? By seeing the good, in ourselves and in others, we are allowing ourselves to be happy.”
About Kim Reichhelm
A former U.S. Ski Team Member, NCAA All American racer, and two-time World Extreme Skiing Champion, Kim Reichhelm was a defining force behind women’s big-mountain skiing in the late ’80s and early ’90s and was named as one of the most influential skiers of all time by Powder and Skiing magazines. Reichhelm pioneered the concept of women-only ski clinics, which she has run all over the world for more than 30 years. Based in Aspen, Colo., and Baja, Mexico, she spends her free time chasing waves on a longboard.