On the go in the gym: Retiree Judith Dawe fills her days with exercise, volunteer work

FOR THE BELLINGHAM HERALDMay 20, 2013 

Judith Dawe

Judith Dawe, 62, works out during her circuit training class at the Bellingham Tennis Club Wednesday, April 10, 2013. Dawe says she works out six days a week.

PHILIP A. DWYER — THE BELLINGHAM HERALD Buy Photo

Name: Judith Dawe.

Age: 62.

Hometown: Bellingham.

Family: Mother, two sisters.

Tomboy: Growing up, Bellingham native Judith Dawe wasn't encouraged to play sports or to live an active lifestyle. For her, the closest thing to being on a sports team as a child was a baseball team that played in an empty neighborhood lot, which she had to stop due to too many broken windows.

"I was the only girl that played baseball in my neighborhood," Dawe says. "I was a scrawny tomboy."

Gym regular: Dawe didn't step foot in a gym until her late 30s. Now, being at the gym is a regular part of her day. She attends up to 15 exercise classes a week, in addition to working out on her own.

Her love for exercise began in 1986 when she was living in Seattle, where she moved after completing her art history degree at Western Washington University. She lived in Seattle for 18 years, working several receptionist and secretary jobs.

Group rate: Dawe lived in the same building as her friend Sydney, and together they joined a gym with 10 others to lower the registration cost.

"We were both morning people and both loved to workout," Dawe says. "We had so much fun together."

The two women woke up at 4 a.m. every day to exercise, a routine that Dawe still follows. Exercising regularly helps her feel good and energized, she says, and has helped her deal with depression over the years.

"I really do believe that helps," Dawe says. "It levels me out."

Assorted gyms: Dawe returned to Bellingham in 1997. She had a membership at Bellingham Athletic Club as a benefit while working as a claims analyst for a health insurance company. She used that gym for almost 10 years, then tried others.

"You get tired of the same stuff all the time," Dawe says.

She tried out Western's Wade King Recreational Center before joining Bellingham Tennis Club. That's where she now attends exercise classes every week, from spin, to boot camp classes, TRX and, recently, yoga.

"I wish I started yoga sooner," she says. "It's amazing how much influence breathing affects other sports."

TRX is a suspension training program invented by a U.S. Navy Seal. The suspensions can be manipulated to create different levels of difficulty, Dawe says. Boot camp classes typically incorporate body-weight exercises with interval and strength training. Spin classes are high-intensity bicycle riding workouts.

Early starter: Dawe still wakes up at 4 a.m. daily and makes her way to the gym for a 5:30 a.m. spin class. On Saturdays, she doesn't start exercising until 8.am. She loves exercising early in the day.

"The rest of the day is just cake after that," Dawe says. "You just feel like you've done something good for yourself."

Dawe recommends that people seek professional advice from a fitness trainer before beginning an exercise routine.

"There's a lot of information out there," she says. "Have someone help you get in the right direction."

Now a vegan: Diet is another major component in Dawe's healthy lifestyle. She became a vegan after volunteering with animal-rights groups.

"It was a personal choice," Dawe says. "Seeing what animals go through, and the disease in our food, made me become a vegan."

She eats protein powders instead, and says she feels more energized since she became a vegan.

Active volunteer: Dawe retired early at 60 and has used her free time to volunteer with organizations, as well as spend time at the gym. For the last four years she has helped Whatcom Humane Society at its gift shop, Paws Awhile, which raises money for the society.

She also has volunteered for the Assistance League of Bellingham, helping at its thrift shop to raise money for league programs, including school clothes and enrichment scholarships for youngsters, and clothing and care items for victims of domestic violence and for patients in the hospital for emergencies.

"I feel like I'm more busy now," Dawe says. "It's funny how as you get older, you think there's not enough time to pursue all these things!"

Kamrin Dishman is a freelance writer in Bellingham.

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