66? You little devil.

When most of us think about retirement, getting fitter than you’ve ever been before might not be top of the priority list. However, we’ll be more prone to osteoporosis (bone density reduction and therefore higher risk of fracture), muscle mass decreases (and hence balance can become an issue, leading to loss of independence) and energy levels generally decline.

So, as your body’s decline starts to accelerate, one route would be to take out SAGA insurance, go to the Bingo and slow things right down. But, as George Burns (who lived to be 100) once said: “If I’d known I was going to live this long, I’d have taken better care of myself!”

It may feel like you’ve missed the fitness boat if you hit retirement and still don’t know your dip from your dumbell. But as the wonderful Gillean has demonstrated over these last 4 years, it’s never too late to start lifting weights, doing HIIT and trying all sorts of fitness exercises which you’ve never done before.

How did you hear about Jo’s Thing?

In the changing room of one of those little dress shops on East Street. I was fighting with a skirt zip at the time and happened to overhear the assistant telling a friend about how she’d got her waist back. I didn’t buy the skirt, but I did get the contact details for Jo’s Thing. Bargain!”

What had been your plan for staying fit in your retirement before you joined Jo’s Thing?

“Retirement was looming and the only plan I’d made was to have a long and enjoyable one. Walking back home from East Street that day I realised that getting my waist back wasn’t quite as important as getting…and keeping…fit and strong in this next stage of my life.”

What exercise had you done up to that point?

“I’ve always walked. Proper walking. Uphill-down dale-pole wielding-Kendal mint cake-chewing walking. But I never liked conventional gyms. I did join one once, and even went for a little while. It smelled of hairspray and dirty laundry. The instructors were bored. Then it burned down. Probably by a bored instructor….”

How did you feel about working out in the great outdoors “whatever the weather”?

“Exercising outdoors was never going to be a problem for me. In fact, that was what initially attracted me to Jo’s Thing and part of what has kept me coming back regularly ever since Tuesday April 9th 2013: the date of my very first Jo’s Lite Thing session, duly recorded in my diary.

We exercise on Friday mornings now. We don’t really mind what the weather throws at us..or what Jo throws at us, either! And yes, there really is a Jo. Who is not bored and who never gives us boring stuff to do. Stuff that makes me puff? Oh yes. Shape-changing? Well, my waist is back. OK..it’ll never be the waist I had when I was 26, but it’s strong and flexible and just what I need now that I’m 66.”

Did you have any worries before you started exercising with Jo’s Thing?

“My left leg was badly injured several years ago. I knew I wouldn’t be able to run or jump so I didn’t know if I’d be able to do enough to make it worth it. How wrong I was! Not only can I run and jump now, but I do all sorts of things I never knew existed. Not just a plank but a plank with upwards of 10kg on my back…. if Jo says I can do it, then I know I can and she’s annoyingly good at knowing what I can and can’t do. I’m delighted just to be able to do it all, especially as it seemed such an impossibility for so long.”

What would you say to other ladies thinking about joining Jo’s Thing?

“The best thing about this Thing of Jo’s is what fun it is! It’s certainly my thing and probably your thing too if you’re reading this.

And as for how old you are or how unfit you may think you are? No big thing….”