Sure, we’ve got great gear, the coolest clubs and best vibe in London, but the fact is, Gymbox is so much more than the four walls we love coming to train in. The thing that makes our fitness fam so unique is the attitude we bring to every workout – no matter our ability, style, background… and as member Kevin Lee proves, age. With an impressive 78 years under his belt, his commitment to exercise has kept him lifting, learning new skills and letting the world know that life never has to slow down if you don’t want it to. Our blogger Kat caught up with him to find out more about his Gymbox journey…
Kevin, can you first tell me a bit about yourself. Have you always lived in London? And what were you doing for work before your retirement?
I have not led a simple, linear life - I’ve changed professions and lived and worked in both Spain and South Africa!
When I left school, I trained to work in musical theatre and performed in Glasgow, Oxford and at the London Palladium (in the chorus, of course!) I also appeared in pantomime and the musical comedies of those days. After 15 years of that, I moved into photojournalism, and after that I turned to teaching. This is the profession I continued in ‘til I took early retirement in 2000.
My first teaching job was in Madrid, then Barcelona, in a language academy. When I returned to London, I taught at Westminster College and some other Further Education colleges. I loved teaching most and am still in contact with some of my students from 40 years ago!
As an avid gym-goer at 78 years old, you're proving that age doesn't have to limit you. Have you always been into physical fitness and training or is it something you got into later in life?
I used to be an outdoors person, into scuba diving, taking long coastal walks and mountaineering. After an injury, I went to an osteopath for regular treatments and he was very keen that I should pay more attention to my physical fitness. He recommended the hydrotherapy pool in Peckham and the gym at the YMCA in Tottenham Court Road. I followed his advice.
That was about ten years ago and I soon started having more energy and flexibility, working out at least three times a week. I haven't stopped since then!
How long have you been training at Gymbox and what made you decide to join the club?
During lockdown when all the gyms were closed, two of my friends from the YMCA invited me to join them for twice-weekly training sessions in the outdoor gym in the Olympic Park (Stratford), which has a range of function frames and other equipment.
We trained in all weathers, including the day it snowed, and it was great fun! I bought some aerial silks and one day when I was hanging them, I noticed two young women - Lauren and Fahmida - hanging their silks on a separate frame. We got chatting and they told me they were Gymbox members and about the wonderful variety of aerial skills classes they were taking.
Their enthusiasm had me convinced and as soon as gyms were allowed to open, I started exploring what Gymbox had to offer. I took classes in Victoria, Elephant, Stratford and Farringdon, and found an excellent Personal Trainer - George Edwards - at the Leather Lane branch.
Can you tell me more about your training regime and what kinds of things are you working on with your VPTs George and Eoin?
I work out with George once a week and I go in six (sometimes seven) days a week to train on my own.
I started noticing the other VPTs and that they all had something different and special to offer. Eoin Ryan caught my eye one day when I noticed him juggling between sets of deadlifts. He seemed to be having fun so I asked him how juggling fit into his workout, and he invited me to have a go (which I declined.) But over the next weeks I saw how his juggling improved and we always chatted.
As I am an undisciplined person, I decided that I would benefit from having another PT to keep me on track. Eoin agreed to take me on!
What false assumptions do you think people make about you based on your age?
As we get older, we seem to wind down and become less and less active so our breathing becomes shallower, our muscles get less blood and our bodies become less flexible. We become lazy and unchallenged, and begin to believe that old age demands that we have to take life easy. Or that we simply won't have the energy, stamina or patience to workout in a gym.
This absolutely does not have to be so!
What impact has training everyday had on your life?
What I discovered, thanks to the encouragement of that osteopath ten years ago, was that a whole new interesting, lively, fun era of my life would begin.
Going to the gym puts purpose and focus into your life, puts control of your mental and physical health into your own hands. And being surrounded by much younger, more energetic and friendly people here in Gymbox, who are always willing to chat or give advice, keeps me buoyant and positive.
What do you enjoy so much about training at Gymbox specifically?
My VPTs George and Eoin are amazing - they seem to know from one session to the next exactly where I'm aching or feeling tight and we always manage to iron out the kinks.
All the staff here are also incredibly friendly, always smiling, caring and attentive. They are phenomenal.
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