Wayne Joseph’s Blog

Running with the Big Dog

Never too Late to Start Exercising – Just ask Hilo’s Claire Shigeoka

Claire Shigeoka

It’s never too late to start a health and fitness routine.  Many studies show the benefits to seniors that were sedentary most of their lives and how, at an advanced age, they managed to improve on many areas of productive fitness.

   Research suggests that exercise and physical activity can help maintain or partly restore strength, flexibility, balance and endurance.

   Getting older doesn’t mean that we have to lose our ability to do everyday tasks.  Exercise is proven to help older adults feel better and enjoy life more, even those who think that they are too old or too out of shape.

   Growing up in Hilo, 57-year old Claire Shigeoka, can recall being bored as a child and longing for some playmates and activities that would keep her occupied.

  “I wanted to do age group swimming so badly, but my family only had one car and there was no way to get to and from this activity,” Shigeoka said.  Even if I could find the transportation my family lacked the financial resources to afford them.”

  As Shigeoka approached her 40th birthday she began to see the need to get physically active and joined a local gym and began to take aerobic classes.

  “I decided to make up for lost time and began to find various physical exercise routines that would make me feel great,” she said.

   “By the time I was 50, what I was doing for the past 10 years wasn’t doing anything for me,” Shigeoka said.  “So I thought I would shock my body by starting to run.”

   Seven years ago Shigeoka took the first steps in a life changing experience that not only shocked her body but shaped it into something she is now proud of.

   “I started running on the treadmill on my 50th birthday and very slowly worked up some mileage,” she said.  “I didn’t go out on the road until about eight months later and it took me about a full year to be able to run my first 5K (3.1-mile) race.”

   Shigeoka’s slow transition to running not only transformed her body, but gave her the confidence to participate with others in various road races around the island.

   “I was inspired by everyday women whom I found out did marathons and other races,” Shigeoka said.  “Since running my first 5K I’ve completed two marathons (26.2-miles) and a few half-marathons (13.1-miles).

   Shigeoka currently works at the University of Hawaii at Hilo where she is the Associate Director of Human Resources.

   “I oversee the day-to-day operations of the HR office where I review and audit personnel and position transactions,” she said.  “I’ve done HR work for the last 24 years both in the private sector and for the University.”

   Learning from her early “boring” days as a youngster Shigeoka has made time to insure that her own two daughters reap the value of sports participation.

   “My older daughter (28 years old) did age group swimming, and then swam for Waiakea High,” Shigeoka said.  “My younger daughter is in her second year of college and she did gymnastics from the time she was in kindergarten and was competitive until she graduated from high school.”

   Shigeoka now considers her fitness routine as being almost an obsession as the late bloomer tries to make up for lost time.

   “Right now my typical week would be running 9 to 12 miles on Sunday, run two evenings a week after work for an hour,” she said. “I have two hour long Zumba classes at the YWCA and one early morning workout session with a trainer at the gym.”

   Time permitting Shigeoka will also squeeze in another gym session, on her own, sometime during the week.

   Shigeoka claims that today her weakness comes from her diet and knowing this she has made some adjustments.

   “For many years I thought I could just exercise and eat whatever I wanted, but it just doesn’t work for me,” Shigeoka said.  “What I’m doing is what I’ve heard over the years; eat chicken and fish and keep the red meats to a minimum.”

   Another obstacle for Shigeoka is her lack of interest in eating fresh fruits.

   “I eat lot of vegetables, which is something I like, but find it hard to include fruits in my diet,” she said.  “I’ve cut out fried foods and will limit my sweets to special occasions.”

   Since Christmas, by watching what she eats, Shigeoka has managed to lose 10 pounds without needing to go on a “diet.”

   “It’s the sweets that have sabotaged me the most in the past,” Shigeoka said.  “By limiting them to special occasions it has helped me maintain a more desirable weight.”

   And why does Shigeoka keep running?  “Exercise makes me feel great,” she said.  “Running makes me feel young and energetic.  Often times when I do long runs, it’s a real struggle but when I’m done there’s a feeling of elation, of accomplishment.”

   Despite getting started late on health and fitness Shigeoka has managed to improve her health and increase her self-confidence in everything she does.

   “My fitness goals are to keep doing what I’m doing and running well into my 90’s,” Shigeoka said.

   Sharon Olds summarized people that get a late start on something best when she said, “I was a late bloomer.  But anyone who blooms at all, ever, is very lucky.”

April 19, 2010 - Posted by | Health and Fitness, Running on the Big Island | , , ,


  1. Great job Claire,you are proof that it is never too late to start living a healthy lifestyle!
    I am sure you will still be doing it well into your 90’s!

    Comment by RAJ | April 19, 2010 | Reply

  2. Thank you Claire. You are an inspiration. You prove that it is never too late to begin an exercise program. I agree, running makes us feel young and more energetic.

    Comment by Les O | April 20, 2010 | Reply

  3. Hi Claire,

    I am interested in taking your zumba class…, my twenty year old daughter just told me about it. She is very interested too! We both are interested please email me your class schedules we are excited and looking forward to it.
    The daughter just became a mom in December and I am 50 we both want to tone up!
    Thank you,

    Comment by Mary De Guzman | April 30, 2010 | Reply

  4. Hi Claire
    when and how do we get into your zumba class…also, how many participants in a class?..thanks

    Comment by ku | May 5, 2010 | Reply

  5. I am very interested in checking out your zumba class…I am 66 years old and I have an 9 yr. old daughter who needs the exercise as well. Please eMail me with the information of time schedules for zumba classes…. thank you,


    Comment by La Barona | October 24, 2010 | Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: