At 71 years old, Highland Village resident Sandy Patterson won’t go so far as to say she can keep up with a bunch of chiseled 20-year-olds at the gym. But pit her against a few 40-somethings, and she will give them a run for their money.
“[My age] sounds so ancient, but I don’t feel that way,” Patterson said with a laugh.
It’s not uncommon to see women Patterson’s age working up a sweat at Shapes Fitness for Women, but what’s striking is how she has seemingly found the fountain of youth. Her arms and shoulders are ripped, and she motors through workouts like the Energizer Bunny. Rather than put in a half-hearted workout a few times a month, she’s there almost every day lifting, pushing through intense cardio training, and following that up with back-to-back classes like Zumba or Dance Jam.
And she’s not alone. Patterson and her sister, Vicki Burton, are two of roughly 10 women between the ages of 65 and 78 who have carved out their own niche inside the Shapes Fitness for Women location in Flower Mound. They are lovingly referred to as The Senior Squad, and they are proving that age isn’t an excuse to skip a workout.
“I tell you what, even my husband has said, ‘Wow. Look at those guns,’” Patterson said. “I love being there with my girls.”
Her sister agreed.
“I can’t get her to leave [the gym] now,” Burton said. “We’ve all got some pretty good-looking guns.”
Danielle Cornett has owned the popular Shapes gym with her husband, Clint, for just more than a year. She’s also the resident “butt-kicker” as the lead trainer and coach. While she doesn’t want her small but mighty full-service gym to be known as just an “old lady gym” — her all-female membership runs the gamut in everything from age to fitness level — she’s all about promoting Patterson and the rest of The Senior Squad for the inspirations that they are.
“We are all pink, and we’re all girls. But we work hard,” Cornett said. “Everyone who comes here wants to get a big sweat and a great workout. Everything is modifiable, so what we do is absolutely perfect for any age group and fitness level. I’m going to teach it at a Level 10, but I can show it at a Level 6, and you can do it at a Level 2.”
She added, “You can get stronger and build muscle when you’re over 65. I can be standing outside looking through the window at Sandy and completely forget that I’m looking at a 71-year-old. Her arms are more defined than mine.”
It’s easy to see how. Shapes is a treasure trove for female workout enthusiasts who want to skip the big-box gyms but still have access to all the same equipment, free weights, classes, personal training options, and a nutrition program.
Shapes in Flower Mound is the premier women’s only fitness club in the DFW area. It’s smaller than a big-box gym, which allows members to develop camaraderie with each other while also getting more individualized attention from Cornett’s 20 personal trainers and instructors. Shapes also offers a kids’ zone, an infrared sauna, and 28 weekly group classes.
“That’s why I love this place so much,” Cornett said. “It’s a community, and it has organically happened. They are here because they are getting a really good workout. And trust me, I kick their butt all day. But there’s also the budding relationships. Everyone is so open and friendly, and it’s a safe place.”
Cornett swears that the harder she pushes The Senior Squad, the more they respond. One regular member boldly joined Cornett’s Elite Small Group Training classes recently. These fast-paced courses are not for the faint of heart, so when Cornett offered to lower the weight that her older client was working with, the client said, “Oh, no, you don’t. I can do it.”
“All I could say is, ‘Yes, ma’am. Yes, you can,” Cornett said with a laugh.
Burton was one of the original members, joining Shapes when it was accepting early-enrollment before the doors officially opened in 2019. She fell in love with the facility from the very first second, and she said her love for working out has only grown because of Cornett and the atmosphere she’s created.
“Danielle has made this into something special. We love the heck out of her,” Burton said. “And a lot of it is this group of girls. You want to go workout, and you definitely want to be around your friends.”
And then there is Sandy. She grew up always shying away from working out and anything athletics related, even referring to herself as the family weakling. Ten years ago, she had invasive scoliosis surgery that saw her get two metal rods inserted into her back. Doctors told her to take it easy moving forward, so joining a gym was the furthest thing from her mind when she says her sister started pestering her to come to Shapes.
“Everyone said, ‘Oh, you have to be so careful now,’ and Danielle was like, ‘No! Get on in here. We can modify things for you.’ She changed my life. And really, she does that for everyone. Everyone is so excited for you, and they want you to do well. I guess you could say that I didn’t have any excuses left. Once I was there, there wasn’t a reason to stay home.”
Cornett agreed and said she is bowled over every day by The Senior Squad.
“You’d be amazed watching them,” Cornett said. “And they’re all here every day. Like everyone else, we closed for three months when the coronavirus hit. You wonder if anyone will come back when you reopen, but slowly but surely, every single one of these ladies has come back. They are rock stars.”