The u3a Future Lives Interest Group are building up a bank of information with members, aimed at ensuring we have access to information about choices we can make to age well.
Future Lives Group interviewed inspirational Rosemary Mallace of South Manchester u3a about everyday, approachable fitness for all
The best thing about retirement and old age is having the time to do all the things you always wanted to do. However, unless you look after your body, retirement can mean a slow decline into infirmity.
Many people use retirement as an opportunity to put their feet up and take it easy, which is when the wheels start to come off.
Most people know that exercise is beneficial, particularly for the cardio-vascular system. What most people don’t know is that they are also losing muscle mass as they age. This starts about the age of 40 and can accelerate after 60. The official name for this loss of muscle is sarcopenia. Sarcopenia may not be noticed at first but becomes really evident in the mid-70s. Sarcopenia is closely linked to osteoporosis (strong muscles need strong bones) and can result in frailty, falling, loss of mobility and, ultimately, loss of independence.
That’s the bad news and scary stuff out of the way. The good news is that infirmity is not inevitable and by following the Governments guidelines for minimum amounts of exercise, this decline in muscle mass can be slowed down. Just in case you’re unsure, the minimum you should be doing is 150 minutes (roughly half an hour a day) of exercise that makes you a bit puffed, per week, plus two strengthening sessions per week.
What about the strengthening exercises? How do you start with them?
If you’ve never done any exercise, joining a gym may be a daunting prospect. Classes can be good, but not many cater for people in their 60s and older. A personal trainer, who specialises in older people is a good option, but expensive.
This was the problem that Rosemary Mallace of Over Fifty Fitness tried to solve.
Rosemary, retired at the age of 60, 11 years ago and says,
“I was next to this old chap, who was probably younger than I am now, and he said to the young woman working with him, ‘it’s ok for you youngsters, but you don’t understand the aches and pains of us older people’.”
“It was my lightbulb moment”, said Rosemary.
Rosemary had been offered voluntary redundancy from the Connexions Service and knew she wanted to retire at 60 but would need to find something else to do. Becoming a personal trainer for older people seemed to be the answer.
“I knew that as a baby boomer myself, other baby boomers would identify with me and know that I understood their specific needs.”
In March 2011 Rosemary took voluntary redundancy, retired and put her feet up – literally. She spent the summer of 2011 getting her Personal Trainer qualification, followed by the qualification Exercise and Older Adults.
Until Covid hit, Rosemary was running fitness class for South Manchester u3a.
“Covid was devastating. People, who were once able to come along and enjoy a workout at their pace, were being told to stay at home. With fitness, as you age, it really is a case of ‘use it or lose it’ and people were asking me if I had any exercises I could put up on my Facebook page. I decided that if people couldn’t come to my classes, my classes would come to them. I started live classes on my You Tube channel and ran free classes three times a week and I had people from all over the world join me.”
Rosemary has stopped the live online classes for the time being, but they are all still available on her You Tube channel. The classes are free and concentrate on ‘functional fitness’, that is fitness that aims to make people fit to cope with day-to-day activities. She concentrates on flexibility, co-ordination, strength and balance. She also encourages people to get their 150 minutes a week by having a 6K Daily Steps Challenge which encourages people to walk at least 6,000 steps a day.
Rosemary said “In our ‘third age’ we have time for hobbies and interests, but for that we need to keep our bodies strong. Exercise isn’t important, it is vital.”
Rosemary practises what she preaches and on April 3rd, at the age of 71, completed the Manchester Marathon in a time of 5 hours 15 minutes and has her sights set on the London Marathon in 2023.
You can keep up (if you can) with Rosemary on her social media platforms listed below.
YouTube channel Rosemary Mallace Overfiftyfitness – YouTube
Over Fifty Fitness Facebook page Over Fifty Fitness | Facebook