Just over 10 years ago I interviewed Val, one of Kelsey Kerridge’s most loyal and oldest customers. At the time, Val was in the centre four or five times a week and had just completed a half marathon in Milton Keynes. Even then she was a shining example proving age was no barrier to an active lifestyle.
Last week I caught up with Val again. Now approaching her 85th year, Val is still as sprightly, vibrant and energetic as ever. “Do you think I am looking my age,” she asked after finishing a 15 minute fast walk on the treadmill and a boxing session, where she put the personal trainer through some serious paces. I was able to honestly say she didn’t look a day older than last time I saw her in 2006.
“I don’t run marathons anymore,” she says with a smile, but I still walk very fast.” Now, just in case you think this is some “oh, isn’t it marvellous that an octogenarian still goes to the gym, where she does a few doddery moves” story, it isn’t. Val works out as hard as anyone I have ever seen. The intensity of the work out and the time she spends in the gym are an example to everyone. On the day I spoke to her Val’s treadmill and boxercise session was just a warm up. She joined me in the functional fitness suite where she learnt how to use the new equipment before embarking on a Krunch and Kore class.
Exercise defies age
Val is certain that her vigorous exercise regime is what keeps her fit and healthy and I agree with her. She even sounds younger than her actual age. She doesn’t have the stoop that so many elderly women become afflicted by and her movements are free and fast. “This is what keeps me healthy up here,” she says indicating her head.
She also tells me that she never wears socks with her trainers, preferring to let her toes more freely in the shoes and that she never gets injured. We both wondered if the free foot movement contributed to her injury-free life.
Val’s exercise routine has slowed very slightly in the past 10 years. She no longer goes for a long run; she walks six miles at a time instead with a friend. She attends three classes a week – circuits, Krunch and Kore and Boxercise – but she does other activity before each class, spending up to two hours in the gym at any one time. This far exceeds the recommended 150 minutes a week. “I have been coming here for the last 16 years,” she says. “It is like a family to me. The staff are friendly, Mustafa is excellent, I have made a lot of friends here.” And with that, the sprightly woman walks jauntily over to the studio to take part in the Krunch and Kore class.
Backing up Val’s assertion that exercise is keeping her fit and well, is research from the University of Bristol, which looked at data from 213 people whose average age was 78.
Those who carried out less than 25 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per day – such as walking quickly, cycling or swimming – received 50 per cent more medical prescriptions over the following four to five years than those who were more active.
Such physical activity leads to a higher metabolism and better circulation, reducing the risk of conditions and diseases common in older age such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease and strokes.
With its accessible gym, friendly and knowledgeable staff, tailored classes and great range of equipment, Kelsey Kerridge is doing a fantastic job when it comes to providing opportunities for people of all ages to exercise. And as Val shows so energetically, age should never be a barrier to physical activity.