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Athlete Spotlight: Tom and Mary Mckeown

A note from their coach, Vicki:

This year has been so much fun highlighting different athletes each month and I am especially excited about rounding out the year with Mary and Tom. These two continue to persevere and improve even through minor setbacks. Their dedication to their health and fitness is an important part of their lives and I hope you find them as inspiring as I do as I work with them!

I have had the privilege of working with not only Tom and Mary, but various members of their family, as well (including some of the grandchildren).

It has been such a pleasure to work with Tom and Mary as they have embarked on this newest path of balance, strength, and flexibility training. It is clear that their dedication to their health is important.

I have been beyond impressed with both individuals, their desire to improve their fitness, and continue to improve their quality of living. As impressed as they are with others in their lives around them, they are definite role models to all of us!

I am extremely grateful that they have chosen me in this journey to continued health! I hope their stories inspire you as much as they have been personally inspiring!


Name | Mary McKeown

Tell us about your family/careers.

I am a mother of 5 children and widowed when I was 39, and then worked at the House of Representatives until I married Tom McKeown in 1984. I then became a stepmother of 7 and we now have a blended family of 28 grandchildren and 4 great grandchildren.

How long has fitness been part of your life?

I have enjoyed sports and exercise all my life.

What are some of your favorite hobbies?

Bridge, reading, golf, bowling, and swimming.

Do you have a favorite quote or motto?

I believe to have a happy life you must be balanced—physically, mentally, and spiritually. You must take care of No. 1. Otherwise, you are unable to care for others!

What keeps you going when you really don’t want to go?

I guess my daughter Mary Cullen and Vicki get after me when I slow down.

What got you started with training?

A Mother’s Day gift from Mary Cullen. It was two weeks of training with Vicki.

When you tell your friends/family about beginning your journey what was their reaction?

I initially never told them. My grandchildren were excited their grandmother had her own trainer!!

How long have you been training?

About 3 years.

Were you involved in other competitive sports prior to your adult years? (ie - athletic background).

Not many chances to compete in sports during the years I grew up. Nevertheless, I loved ice skating, biking, and swimming. In later years, I took exercise classes and enjoyed yoga. When my children were young, we joined the YWCA and swam a lot. Today, I still enjoy walking, golf ,and working out with Vicki.

Best tip for someone that is thinking about starting a fitness program.

I would say give it a try—like me, you might like it!

Who is your biggest inspiration?

People that don’t give up!

What is your biggest struggle?

Getting going in the morning!

Goals for upcoming year?

Try to stay healthy!


Name | Tom McKeown

I began training by myself after I retired. I worked out in a nearby gym that was attached to an indoor tennis club. I had played tennis, off and on, since I was a teenager. In my early adult years, moving around and parenting left little time for sports…raising eight children took all the energy I had.

My career was essentially split between two companies, Honeywell in aerospace, defense, and computer business, and St. Paul cos in commercial insurance. I began playing tennis a couple times a week in late 30’s when we lived in Boston, continued in Minnesota with St. Paul—Good way to stay in shape, especially playing singles. But, I had to quit at about 60, when I injured my Achilles tendon. When I retired at 65, I had gained weight and needed to lose 20 pounds…thus seriously working out. I learned that exercise helped, but needed to change eating habits substantially and permanently to lose weight. I started a program to lose 10 lbs per year, which I did. I also began to discipline myself to workout by myself two to three times per week at a local club. So, after I was 65 and retired I began to play golf and worked out about 2 to 3 times a week. I kept the weight down.

Then at 82 I had open heart surgery—three arteries clogged. After surgery you are sent to cardiac rehab center—free or paid by insurance for six weeks. I liked the environment and people there so I signed up for three times per week. Most of the workout was 45 minutes on a bike. Nurses were there to encourage and instruct you and check BP, etc. I stayed with that until the pandemic shut it down 2 years ago, as I moved into the tenth decade of my life.

I began working with Vicki this fall several months after she worked with Mary. She has been very helpful coming to our home twice a week and teaching me how to loosen and keep my body more flexible.

My reflection on my health and extra years. Number one, your DNA is 60-70 percent of your health. The rest you can influence by dietary habits and discipline. What we eat or do physically is important, but the discipline is most important. It is very helpful to have a supportive family.

A couple philosophical thoughts/advice. I have listened to my doctors and followed their advice all of my life. It’s worked for 92 years. Also, when we are down here on earth making big plans, God is up there smiling!!

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