Getting Her Kicks

Winter 2023/2024 Living Power Magazine

julie lowery

Fitness has always been important to Julie Lowery. As a certified registered nurse anesthetist for more than 25 years at UNC Hospitals, Lowery saw fitness as an extension of her health—a way to keep her body strong and vibrant.

Prior to retirement, Lowery regularly attended a gym, taking BodyCombat mixed martial arts classes. Once COVID hit, she switched her routine to home workouts, streaming the Les Mills BodyCombat classes and setting up a gym in her basement. She discovered that she enjoyed home workouts more than in-person classes.

Being able to exercise on her own schedule became even more important as she transitioned into retirement in 2022. Going from a fairly high-energy, high pressure field such as hospital medicine, Lowery knew she would have to figure out a way to stay occupied and fulfilled once she retired.

“I was a little concerned when the actual retirement came,” she says. “You get excited about making a decision such as retiring, but you don’t really know how it’s going to go once it’s actually here, and you hear a lot of stories of people being bored or declining.”

One of the first post-retirement decisions Lowery made was to continue to adhere to her regular workout routine. Lowery says mixed martial arts gives her a total-body workout that not only burns calories, but also builds strength and flexibility that help her stay as healthy as possible as she ages.

“[Exercise] gives me a lot of energy and momentum, and it’s improving or helping me to maintain cardiovascular fitness, as well as flexibility,” she says. “When you get older, you’re really at risk for falling and becoming weak, and muscle innervation gets reduced. So all of the benefits of my workouts combined has helped me to stay in the best shape possible.”