AT THE age of 90, most pensioners could be forgiven for spending their birthday enjoying an afternoon tea or a game of bingo.
But Doreen Brown refuses to take life easy and enjoys a gruelling exercise regime that would put most people less than a quarter of her age to shame.
Doreen works out for 90 minutes in the gym three times a week and spent her 90th birthday rowing 6,000 metres in 60 minutes on the rowing machine before doing stomach crunches on the mats.
In fact, she’s so fitness mad her nine grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren call her ‘Granny Nike’ because she has a wardrobe of tracksuits and loves nothing more than wearing her trendy Nike trainers.
“I couldn’t sit down all day doing nothing. Sometimes I think ‘I won’t go today,’ but I force myself, and I always feel better.
“I feel happier once I’ve exercised and I feel happy when people say to me ‘you are never 90’, it makes me little embarrassed but I feel happy.
I still feel angry I can’t do what I want to do.”
Doreen and her daughter Margaret Gatrell
But spritely Doreen doesn’t let her blood pressure problems, osteoporosis and occasional falls get in her way.
That’s because she discovered her love for fitness through the love of her life Jimmy, who died following a ten-year battle with lung cancer.
Doreen, who retired aged 61 from the Inland Revenue in Southampton – and returned twice, got hooked on a strict fitness regime when the former sergeant in the Royal Air Force was referred to a gym during his illness and Doreen went along for moral support.
Ever since she has worked out religiously – and even completed the Race for Life aged 80 in her husband’s memory. The pair were married for 57 years and first met in Calshot when Jimmy said to Doreen, a member of the Women’s Royal Air Force, ‘Come on airwoman, put on your hat!’
Doreen at her wedding
Doreen is now a member of trainer Frank Mangna’s new gym Studio Red Fitness in Park Street, Shirley where she regularly lifts weights, rows and trains her core on the mats.
Frank teaching a spin class
“I like to look good and it gets me out of the house,” she says.
Frank and the team held her a special birthday party to mark her recent milestone with flowers, a cake and cards – and Doreen admitted she has no intention of sitting at home where she lives alone in Shirley in her slippers.
“I’d definitely say to other older people to go for it. It makes you feel better,” said Doreen who is aiming for the Race for Life next year.
“I would miss it and I’m always afraid I won’t be able to exercise anymore but I will keep going! I do it for my husband.”
Owner of the gym and personal trainer Frank said living an active lifestyle appears to be the secret of longevity and Doreen inspires all his members aged 16 and above.
He said: “Doreen is one of our most inspirational members who doesn’t see her age as a barrier. She makes no excuses and has no limits.”