AN 81-year-old woman with osteoarthritis who has undergone several operations has transformed her life after deciding to “give the gym a whirl”.
Gill Conyers has become an inspiration for many at Definition Body Coaching, a personal training studio at York Business Park, Nether Poppleton.
Since joining, Gill – who is the oldest member and tries to go three times a week – says her mobility has improved, she has more energy, has lost one-and-a-half stone and is enjoying the social side of working out with friends.
Studio owner and personal trainer Justin Shepherd said Gill had been crowned the winner of a 10-week ‘transformation challenge’, which worked on lifestyle, movement and food.
More than 40 clients took part, with Gill judged to have undergone the greatest body transformation. The competition resulted in a combined weight loss of 400 pounds and more than 90 waist inches.
“But that’s not all – the improvement in the confidence and therefore mental health of clients has soared,” said Justin, 35, who has worked in the fitness industry for 17 years.
He praised Gill’s dedication, motivation and willingness to learn, adding: “Gill is the success story of the gym. I have never managed to get a lady of 81 in such great shape.”
Gill, a former nurse from Poppleton, said she wished she had taken the plunge years earlier but had felt it was too late in life.
“I have been coming for two-and-a-half years. I came on the request of a friend. She and I had both had operations to our lower limbs and were not able to walk the way we used to.”
As part of a group of five, aged from 60 to 81, they have private studio sessions with Justin and personal trainer Carl Ward.
Justin said: “I assess people’s lifestyle to find out if someone is not healthy or not the shape or fitness they would like to be. I look at their current lifestyle and work out why that is not the case. It is my job to help them very slowly become a new version of themselves.”
Gill said: “I am very arthritic. I have had two knee replacements and half a shoulder replacement. When you are osteoarthritic, if you don’t move it you lose it. They tailor exercise I can manage. I know they wouldn’t let me do anything that would damage me because they keep a strict eye on us.
“My mobility is much better and so is my energy. The combination of exercise and being more careful about what I eat has made a huge difference. I didn’t think I could do that at this stage in life. Most people don’t think they can do anything.
“A couple of our group are widowed. Social exercise makes you feel better. If you are a bit low or slightly depressed, a happy chat while you are working out is very important.
“I mustn’t stop because it has made so much difference. I am evangelical about the benefits. I wish I had started earlier. If I had realised I could benefit at that stage, I would have.
I do say to people ‘give it a whirl’.”