Fit at fifty plus…

For several years, my friend, who we will call Maria, and I went to Aquafit twice a week in an effort to bring joyful exercise into our lives.

Woman at the gym

I must admit that this worked and we loved it. It got to the point where we could have a whole conversation throughout the session, while still working hard and bouncing on our ‘woggles’.

It was at this point that we felt maybe we weren’t challenging ourselves enough, so we decided to spread our wings and try something else. Our first port of call was Tai Chi; it seemed slow and civilised and neither of us liked sweating, so off we went.

It was not a success. Firstly, it was a lot harder than it looks to be balanced and change weight from one side of your body to another; secondly, Maria will freely admit she has no co-ordination and went freestyle, as she could not copy what the instructor was doing.

After three similar sessions, we decided this was not for us. We tried a deepwater Aquafit, where you had to wear a flotation belt and move to the deep end. Then, you pushed foam dumbbells up and down, while treading water. This seemed fine, until, in true Morecambe and Wise fashion, we realised that the dumbbells we had been given were much larger than anyone else’s! We could hardly get them below the surface and must have looked comical from the pool side.

Unfortunately, Maria got an almighty chest infection which sent her thyroid spiralling out of control. Then followed a fractured wrist and an ankle injury, when she fell off a ladder and we stopped doing anything. For a year. And a half. While still paying monthly for the membership.

I realised that Maria was not going to come back to classes anytime soon, so I put my big girl pants on and ventured back on my own; this time, going to the actual gym. I was concerned that it would be like stepping into a wild west saloon, where everyone would stop what they were doing and stare at the old girl in the ill-fitting tracksuit pants (why are the legs so long?!)

What I was pleased to see was that there were many mature men and women there and that people generally minded their own business and did their own thing. Encouraged by this, I tried treadmills (which I like) exercise bikes (which I do not like) and various bits of more targeted equipment.

I have now met Bill, a personal trainer, who is trying to get me to go to the dark side of the gym where the free weights and strange, unfathomable machines are. He says he sees people as a lump of clay, whom he can sculpt into a work of art. This sounds promising, unless he follows the school of Barbara Hepworth or Henry Moore! The sculpting part also sounds like hard work and not a lot of fun – I remain to be persuaded.

The message is, find an exercise you enjoy and go regularly, with, or without a friend, whatever age you are. It’s never too late to start, or start again. You’ll be glad you did!

Anne Loadman

About Anne Loadman

I'm 58, formerly a primary school teacher, and I now work in child and adolescent mental health. I can't act my age, so don't ask me to try! I'm a mother, stepmother and grandma of four, a survivor of the menopause and keen to speak to, and for, the many mature and wise women who have not lost their sense of fun!