Strong After Sixty: A Fitness Program for Postmenopausal Women Helped Me Get My Mojo Back

I’ve embraced not only this decade, but my 50s as well, enjoying activities I never dreamed I’d be doing in my younger years.

But when I turned 60, what a change – almost overnight.

My body decided it was going to slow down, squeak and complain.

Everything I did took longer, especially in the recovery time.

Even getting up from a chair came with that annoying ‘urrrg’ noise!

Luckily I discovered Strong After Sixty, a group run by Mid Wales fitness expert Grace Turner (fitnessgrace.co.uk/strongaftersixty).

Grace Turner

Born in Shrewsbury, Grace lived in Bettus near Newtown until she went to university in London to study contemporary dance, achieving a first class honours.

Although she loves dance, fitness has always been a passion for Grace, from university studies on the link between underfunding the arts in middle school and the rise of childhood obesity to becoming a personal trainer.

“I realized that healthy exercise has such an impact on people’s lives — not just physically, but mentally and emotionally,” Grace said.

She loves fitness for all ages.

Grace and one of her members

“I went back to my university to do a community dance week and we had people of all ages there. We had a special event for the over 60s and I saw how much fun they had.

“I remember calling my mum in Newtown and saying it was the best day I’ve ever had.

“I realized that many people over 60 feel intimidated by fitness and exercise. Fitness and gym ads feature younger people and people who are already fit – they’re already ripped.”

She opened her own studio in London with a different ethos.

“Unlike many studios, we have no mirrors and we encourage everyone of all ages and abilities.”

The success spurred her to create her online project Strong After Sixty, specifically aimed at postmenopausal women.

“Thankfully there is now a lot of exercise advice for menopausal women, but nothing for postmenopausal women,” she said.

“It is known that without strength training, women can lose up to 30 percent of their muscle mass between the ages of 50 and 70, no matter how fit they are. In my opinion, this is the most important time for women to focus on getting or staying in shape.

“We all use our muscles when we exercise, whether it’s gardening, walking the dog or climbing a hill at the weekend.

“Your muscles support your skeleton, and if you’re not actively using them, they won’t allow you to continue doing what you’ve been doing. When you’re postmenopausal, your body works against you.”

Grace’s Strong After Sixty project centers around online classes that concentrate on technique and ensure that there are different levels of each exercise. Being online means that people can access them from wherever they live and at a time that suits them.

“There are no weights involved, no equipment — except for a resistance band and sometimes a chair.”

Each week Grace also sets a walking challenge for the online women’s group and provides helpful tips and advice on healthy eating and healthy living.

Feeling in a safe group, women are happy to ask questions about any problems or questions they have through the community’s private Facebook group. They also talk about those pains — and how they’re progressing.

People in the group agree that it not only builds their fitness, but also their confidence.

Strong After Sixty certainly brought my mod back. No, I will never set a PB in anything again, but now I am confident that with strength training I can continue to do the things I love to do.

And from groaning every time I tried to get out of an armchair – catch me – I can now stand up using only one leg and no hands! This is something I couldn’t have done 20 years ago, let alone 60 something!

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