Edwina Brocklesby (75) is Britain’s oldest female Ironman finisher and runs charity Silverfit, which organises fitness sessions for older Londoners
When did you set up Silverfit?
‘In 2013. We run weekly sessions across eight London boroughs. We’ve had 66,000 attendees since we started. The average age was 68 a year ago; it’s probably 69 now!’
What kinds of classes are they?
‘Nordic walking, Bollywood fitness, walking football, silver cheerleading. Cheerleading is popular. I got sent a video on our cheerleading WhatsApp group where they’re doing a routine to “Don’t Stop Me Now” and I was thinking that sums it all up! It’s not gymnastics, it’s just fun. We did cheerleading at half time at Dulwich Hamlet Football Club. That was brilliant! There were about 3,500 people in the crowd and they were just so supportive.’
What do people get out of Silverfit?
‘When couples get to retirement age they often haven’t done things together. We’ve got quite a lot of couples who come and are enjoying something together. Also, it’s amazing to see the support when someone is ill, perhaps seriously ill. It creates new friendships and that’s incredibly satisfying to see.’
Have you always been active?
‘No. I didn’t start until I was 50. I watched a friend do a half-marathon and told my husband that I’d quite like to do it, and he said “Well, you couldn’t even do two or three miles.” And that was true!’
How many triathlons have you done?
‘Oh, hundreds! I’ve done Ironman ten times, which is the really long-distance one. I’m training for three events over the summer: the Long Distance Triathlon World Championships; Nove Colli, which is a nine-hill bike ride; and then the big one, the Race Across America bike ride starting in California. It’s a relay. For eight hours, two of you do one hour on, one hour off, then the other two take over.’
Do you think being active is important as you get older?
‘It’s essential. It solves a lot of issues if you can stay more active. It’s sociable too. Even if you have physical problems, you can come and have fun. Sometimes people will come along and say “I can’t do cheerleading today, but I can sit on the side and have a cup of tea after.” ’
Life lessons: ‘Smile at people. They’ll always smile back. On one of my triathlons it was my objective to smile at every policeman on the route – and it worked!’
Find out more about Silverfit.