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When Rebecca Woody was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in 1982, her doctors told her she’d never lift again. She set out to prove them wrong—and is still doing so today. Woody, of Kansas City, MO, grew up in a fitness family. Her father worked as a coach at the local community center, and Woody found herself surrounded by athletes. “[My father] coached both boys and girls; young men in boxing, football, baseball, and basketball and girls’ volleyball and basketball,” Woody told the Daily Mail.
Woody initially began lifting weights with her brother, who was a boxer. In 1982, she was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. According to the Mayo Clinic, rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that causes your immune system to mistakenly attack your own body tissue, resulting in painful joint swelling and bone erosion. Woody’s doctors told her she was never going to be able to lift again, but she persisted. After having her third child and struggling to lose weight post-baby, people at her gym suggested bodybuilding. Woody hasn’t looked back since.
She competed in her first bodybuilding show in 1986. She kept competing, and she won first place at the 1990 Nationals for the National Physique Committee (NPC). Now, at age 70, this 4’9″, 85.5-pound grandmother of seven is still active in the fitness community, working as a posing coach and trainer. “I’ve been doing this for so long, it’s become a habit to eat well and get to the gym, just like washing my face and brushing my teeth,” Woody told the Daily Mail.
On top of being a powerhouse on stage and in the gym, Woody also crushes social media. You can check out her inspirational Instagram below as a reminder that age is, really, just number.