Karen Clark, 49 | Knoxville, Tennessee
Sports were never Karen Clarks thing as a kid. But when, in her early 40s, she couldnt budge a large flowerpot, the computer consultant and married mom of two started to long for muscles. Clark hired a personal trainer and enjoyed the workouts, but was looking for more. Then he had her try a rowing machine, and she liked it enough to sign up for a three-day workshop on the Tennessee River. She came home a changed woman.
“Youre working with a team, and everyones focused on the same goal. The suns coming up over the water. And Im thinking, ‘I want to do this as often as I can,” she says.
Clark now rows three times a week, typically in a shell with eight other women. “When a row goes well, youve pushed yourself beyond what you thought you could do. That is exhilarating,” she says.
Now, not only is Clark able to move her own flowerpots, but shes gone from a size 12 to a size 8. The sport has also brought Clark closer to her daughters, Isabel, 20, and Olivia, 17, who delight in cheering her on. “When your children tell you theyre proud of you, thats great stuff,” she says.