A 70-year-old woman claims she is the “fittest granny in town” with 2.5 hour daily workouts keeping her in shape.
Denise Wallington is a trim 5ft 4in, size 10 and 8st 10lb, and when she retired from her office manager's job in 2010 she vowed never to become a “boring” nan and started swimming at her local gym.
But hearing the music belting out from the exercise classes that year lured recently single Denise in and the grandmother-of-two, of Bedfont, west London, now relishes her two-and-a-half hour daily gym workout, saying; “Everyone tells me I am in the best shape I’ve ever been.”
She added: “I was dreading turning 70 in September 2021, but I don’t feel my age at all.
“I broke up with someone recently and I’m even fitter now I’ve made the gym the number one love in my life!”
Retirement was Denise’s trigger to exercise as, up until then, she had never used the gym and frequently felt “lethargic” in her 50s and 60s, after her operations agent daughter, Joanna Gates, 42, and son, Neil Wallington, 40, a freight company manager flew the nest.
Worried she would be swallowed up by an old age of coffee mornings and little else, she needed a diversion, saying: “My friend recommended joining the gym to go swimming and I have never looked back.”
Overcoming her initial fear of being judged as an iron pumping pensioner, Denise got stuck into classes and has developed a punishing workout routine, which she completes after dropping off her grandchildren, Maisie, 11, and Harry, eight, at school every morning.
“I used to come out of the pool from a swim and hear the music belting out from the studios. I was so intrigued that I asked to try a few of the classes,” she said.
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She added: “When I first started, I would come home feeling exhausted.
“Every muscle ached, but as I progressed, my fitness levels improved and I got better.
“I would never have believed in 100 years that I would be so hooked on the gym or that I could be this strong.”
She was particularly chuffed when, last August, she got to meet former professional footballer, Dion Dublin, when she started doing FORTIS 30-minute high intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts.
Denise, who has a special wrist splint so she can use weights at despite having osteoarthritis in her left wrist said: “With the FORTIS workouts, I love the battle ropes, slam balls, squats and press machines.
“I can only do 2.5kg on each side because of my wrists, but I am so much stronger since I’ve been doing this.
“I get such a buzz in there and I feel so impressed with myself because I see those 30-something yummy mummies and I can give them a run for their money.”
And Denise swears her new love for working out has also made her a better grandmother.
She said: “A little boy said to my grandson Harry at school that he wishes his nan was like me, because she just sits in a chair all day, while I’m fun.
“I was very pleased, as I’d be devastated if my grandchildren just thought I sat there doing nothing."
Additional reporting by PA