Lisa Grant loves her interior design career for a few reasons. She enjoys working with people, and she has an eye for what fits where. But perhaps best of all is the freedom that affords her the time to pursue her other passion: working out.

“A typical 9-to-5 job would infringe on my fitness routine,” says Grant, who owns Estero-based design company Design 2000 and is a mother to three children. “Even though I have some flexibility in my work, I still have time limitations, so I schedule my meetings later so I can work out.”

The push to lose

Grant’s passion for fitness is still somewhat new. A couple years ago, Grant, now 49, hid her figure in baggy clothes. But in February 2011, she’d had enough. Out of a desire to get in shape and lose weight, she started going to the gym on her own. One year—and 19 fewer pounds later—she decided to step things up even more. She began working out with a trainer and taking boot camp, bodywork and spin classes on a daily basis. The result? Another 20 pounds lost.

It wasn’t all easy, though, especially without a lifetime of heavy fitness routines behind her. Grant recalls that when she thought she couldn’t possibly do another pushup, somehow she always managed to do just one more.

At first it was difficult for her to find the motivation to exercise. And after first taking a spin class and barely being able to breathe during the exercise, she recalls, “I thought my heart would leap from my chest.”

But she forged ahead. It took two to three months to get over the hump. Working with an instructor every day, including Sundays, Grant never slacked off. Soon, the difficulty gave way to excitement and enthusiasm. Grant challenged herself to accomplish feats such as plank pushups. It took a year before the results availed her new, fit body. By then, Grant had lost 36 pounds, dropping her weight to a slim, healthy 127.

Making workouts fun

Now, her gym time has become more than just a routine for Grant; it’s something she looks forward to. “We usually set up a new station [in class] each month, so it’s never boring,” she says. “And the music is a key factor in a class to make it or break it.”

She also gives some of the credit to her boot camp and spin class instructor, David Simmons of LA Fitness at Gulf Coast Town Center. “It’s all about how you’re motivated,” she says. “[His motivation] is my key to success.”

Simmons recalls Lisa showing him a picture and saying, “Help me look like this!” He agreed, and from that day, he says, she’s never said no, never given up and never cancelled a workout.

“Once she knew her children [ages 22, 20 and 18] were growing into their adult lives, she took back her own life,” Simmons says.

Grant often gets up at 4:30 a.m. to attend class at 5:30 a.m. After a break, she then participates in another boot camp workout at 8:30 a.m. Grant likes the uniqueness of boot camp classes, and chief among the benefits of group training is the social aspect. The break between classes provides a chance to rest, but it also allows Grant to enjoy the social aspect of her gym time.

“I have gym friends,” she says, “so not only is it my workout time, but it’s social hour for me as well. I look forward to seeing my people’s smiling faces every day and catching up with their lives. The fact that some other students have similar routines to mine allows us to create a fellowship.”

Fitness for a lifetime

Thanks to the friendships she’s formed and the results she’s seen, Grant’s not planning on turning back now—or ever. In addition to her gym time, she golfs, water skis, snow skis, snorkels and off-road trail bike.

Last year, she participated in her first 5K run, a true sign of her devotion to staying fit and healthy—regardless of age. “I hate running with a passion,” she says, “so it was a huge deal for me. And while I told everyone that I would never do another one, I’ve already committed to next year.”

5 Qs

What’s your favorite healthy snack?

Almonds and strawberries.

Must-have item for the gym?

I believe in a well-stocked gym bag. As the “gym mother,” everyone knows who to see if they need extra socks, gum, Aleve, Band-Aids, hair bands or towels.

Are you for or against scales?

I stay away from the scale, because sometimes they lie. Muscle weighs more that fat.

What’s the best fitness advice you’ve ever received?

Make it a priority and a way of life, like breathing, eating or sleeping—something your body has to do in order to function. No excuses!

What’s your advice for women over 40 who aren’t as fit as they’d like to be?

Age is only a number, not a death sentence. Don’t work out alone because it’s boring and not as motivating as having a workout buddy or trainer. Take a class, stay motivated and meet new friends who will keep you going. Be aware of what you eat, and cut out all fried and fatty foods. All of this will help you feel good about yourself and treat your body well, and, in turn, it will take care of you.

By Kelly Merritt