By Morgan Hume, Contributing Writer
Marlborough – Beth Donahue isn’t your typical athlete. She doesn’t let special needs stop her from spreading a message of health and fitness throughout the Marlborough community with homemade fitness videos and lessons. She does it all alongside her mother, Gina Donahue.
Both women realized their passion for fitness at an early age. When Gina’s mother died from an autoimmune disease, she began to believe that everyone able to move and breathe should exercise in order to take the best care of their body.
“Since I was a teenager, I thought, I’m going to do whatever I can to be as healthy as I can and to spread that idea to everyone I meet,” said Gina. “When Beth was born, that’s just where we started.”
From childhood to the present, Beth and her athletic family have dived into spin classes, yoga sessions, ski trips and countless runs outdoors. She later joined the Special Olympics and continues to work for the organization as a global health messenger.
Gina said that Beth’s involvement with the Special Olympics was a jumping off point that helped launch her daughter into even more opportunities. Beth has made videos alongside players from the Boston Bruins and WWE wrestlers to teach viewers of all levels different exercises and how to use household items like cans of food and chairs to work out their bodies.
After Beth took classes from her mother, who has worked as a fitness instructor for years, she began her own teaching path as a certified Zumba instructor. In addition to upbeat dance moves, she teaches people in Marlborough about the importance of developing healthy habits.
“We try to think of other creative ways we can help [people] be successful,” said Gina. “We just sort of spread that idea of being healthy and fit. It’s a quite positive way of reaching out to your peers.”
In addition to creating workouts, which Beth said everyone is capable of doing, she speaks to Special Olympic supporters and civic organizations about inclusion and the positive impact sports can make. During these speeches, Beth also loves to engage with others and squeeze in health tips when possible.
Beth balances her workout regime with two part-time jobs and aims to inspire others to live a balanced lifestyle by sharing clean eating tips and at-home exercises online. Gina and Beth work together to teach fitness to their community and beyond.
“It makes me feel good about myself,” Beth said. “I feel it makes it so that I am empowered and have self-esteem.”
The athlete said she enjoys being a role model for others to make positive lifestyle changes, whether it’s through her social media or leading a class.
Beth and Gina said they are well supported by the community and teaching fitness and spreading knowledge is their way of giving back to their hometown.
“It’s not just Beth, it’s not just me, it’s a whole community around her that provided support,” said Gina.
Although they can’t join community members inside a gym or studio at this time, Beth and Gina are continuing to teach boot camp classes via Zoom and look forward to in-person classes.
“No matter what your ability, you can make a difference and you can make an impact,” said Gina.