At 59, I don't look good for my age – I just look good

As a personal trainer nearing 60, I know people mean well in their attempts to compliment me.

But I wish they’d just say I look good… full stop.

As a society we’re obsessed with ageing, and particularly how people – especially women – are handling the ageing process. Do we look older or younger? Is what we’re wearing ‘age appropriate’? Are we age-defying, or growing old disgracefully?

I’m a mum-of-five and I’ve been a self-employed PT with my own business for over 20 years. Being a busy mum was what started me along my own wellness journey, because I wanted to have energy for my family.

Working out makes me feel strong and capable, and when I approached mid-life and the menopause, I realised there are many ways you can support yourself through those changes.

I’m active every day because it makes me feel good and I mix up my routines as much as possible. I love exercising outdoors walking, running or cycling. I also enjoy strength training in the gym four-five times a week, which is so important and promotes health and function in midlife.

I started my Instagram account a couple of years ago and I felt that there was a real lack of representation of women in mid-life.

Now, I like to think of myself as an ‘age disrupter’ or ‘pro-age activist’ – and with over 225k followers online, I want other women to look at my videos and see there’s so much joy to look forward to as we grow older.

We don’t have to be frightened of it or desperately try to hold it at bay. 

As a society there’s a lot of gendered ageism; an expectation that women over a certain age should be tucked away indoors in a twin set, but I don’t succumb to that at all.

Around 90% of my followers are women looking for age-positive role models.

I think nothing of wearing in a pair of denim shorts and cowboy boots, or dancing and lip synching in my videos. Life should be joyful at all stages, it doesn’t stop when you turn 50 – but I’ve had my fair share of abuse along the way.

Of course I do get negative feedback from trolls. People comment saying I should act and dress my age, that I have good legs ‘for an old bird’, or that I must be an embarrassment to my children. 

In fact, my kids, who are all now in their late teens or early twenties, are all active and sporty too – and very proud of me and my work. You’ll often see me working out with my daughter Saffron, 23, in my videos.

Some people comment that we look more like sisters than mother-and-daughter, but I think we really need to examine how sometimes ageism can come in the form of compliments, too.

I don’t need, or want, to look like my daughter – I’m going to be 60 in six months! I’m very happy to look my age – as long as I look as vibrant, happy and healthy on the outside as I feel on the inside.

People often ask me for my top tips on aging well, expecting me to say diet or lifestyle, but actually I think that stress management is a really important part of the package, too.

I live near a beach, so for me that means getting out every single morning and walking, running or cycling in nature. Even if the weather is dreadful, I always go out. It’s so important for my mental wellbeing and means I can start the day in a really good place.

When it comes to exercise, it honestly is never too late to start. 

Anyone can start to move more, whatever their stage of life or level of fitness. There’s ageism in gyms too, when people see older people working out, and that’s a shame. It’s time to accept that all age groups should be able to focus on their health and fitness.

If you’re in your twenties and thirties, exercising to give yourself a healthier future is great. But you can start in your sixties, seventies and eighties and still have a big impact on your health. I try to include loads of modified exercises on my social media, so there’s something suitable for everyone.

Cardiovascular health becomes so important, as well as an increased focus on strength training as bone density starts to fall. Some people think there’s nothing they can do about how they age – it’s down to ‘having good genes’ or just ‘being lucky’, but actually consistency is what really matters.

I dislike the phrase ‘anti-ageing’ and much prefer ‘pro-ageing’ or ‘age positive’, though. I want to challenge people over their views on ageing and what is possible. When your body feels strong, it makes you feel well and capable.

People contact me to say ‘thank God for my account’ because they are looking for someone relatable in their age group. The mid-life market is a growing and really important market and we need to see all ages represented online. I’m really pleased to see the rise of mid-life influencers like myself – we’re an age group that’s sick of being ignored.

I want women of any age to be able to look at themselves and see everything they could still achieve.

For more information go to www.hergardengym.co.uk.

As told to Jade Beecroft

Age is Just a Number

Welcome to Age is Just a Number, a Metro.co.uk series aiming to show that, when it comes to living your life, achieving your dreams, and being who you want to be, the date on your birth certificate means nothing.

Each week, prepare to meet amazing people doing stereotype-defying things, at all stages of life.

If you have a story to share, email [email protected]

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