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A 70 year old gym bunny claims to be “fittest granny in town” since work-outs knocked men off the top spot when it came to loves in her life

·6-min read

A 70 year old gym bunny claims she is the “fittest granny in town” since work-outs knocked men off the top spot when it came to loves in her life.

A lithe 5ft 4in size 10 and 8st 10lb, when retired office manager Denise Wallington left work 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.”

Denise works out at the gym daily (Marcel Grabowski/Everyone Active FORTIS/PA Real Life).
Denise works out at the gym daily (Marcel Grabowski/Everyone Active FORTIS/PA Real Life).

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.

Denise with her daughter, Joanna and her granddaughter, Maisie, in Portugal in 2012 (Collect/PA Real Life).
Denise with her daughter, Joanna and her granddaughter, Maisie, in Portugal in 2012 (Collect/PA Real Life).

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.

Denise claims she is the fittest granny in town (Marcel Grabowski/Everyone Active FORTIS/PA Real Life).
Denise claims she is the fittest granny in town (Marcel Grabowski/Everyone Active FORTIS/PA Real Life).

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.”

Denise with her trainer, Dion Dublin (Collect/PA Real Life).
Denise with her trainer, Dion Dublin (Collect/PA Real Life).

And, when her relationship ended recently, she upped her fitness regime as a distraction and, rather than feeling glum, she now has even more of a spring in her step.

She said: “Working out and staying fit stops things from getting me down.”

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.

He was suitably impressed by the superfit gran at the VIP session, powered by Speedflex and Everyone Active, at her local gym, Spelthorne Leisure Centre.

Denise, who has a special wrist splint so she can use weights 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.”

Denise working out (Collect/PA Real Life).
Denise working out (Collect/PA Real Life).

She added: “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.”

After losing her children’s father Phil Wallington, 58, a brewer for Fullers, to colon cancer in 2002, Denise has always embraced life, as her loss made her acutely aware of how precious it is.

She said: “Phil died very young and very quickly. He became ill in February, was diagnosed in March and died on April 22.”

Denise and her daughter, Joanna, at a family wedding in 2013 (Collect/PA Real Life).
Denise and her daughter, Joanna, at a family wedding in 2013 (Collect/PA Real Life).

She added: “No one could believe it. It knocked everybody for six.

“When Phil died, it made me take stock of my life and I am quite a confident and strong person as a result.”

And Denise swears her new love for working out has also made her a better grandmother.

Denise claims she is the “fittest granny in town” since work-outs knocked men off the top spot when it came to loves in her life (Collect/PA Real Life).
Denise claims she is the “fittest granny in town” since work-outs knocked men off the top spot when it came to loves in her life (Collect/PA Real Life).

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.

“I do lots with them. I took them rowing on the Thames the other day and I take them swimming.”

Denise, who says her friends are equally impressed by her fitness, has also become something of a trendsetter when it comes to gym couture.

She said: “I have one wardrobe just full of leggings and tops.

“I have 10 pairs of trainers now, too, because I like to have ones in different colours so I can be colour-coordinated.”

Denise and Joanna (Collect/PA Real Life).
Denise and Joanna (Collect/PA Real Life).

Denise has also gathered a group of gym buddies who help to keep her young.

She said: “I’ve made brilliant friends. As soon as I step in the gym, there is banter with the receptionists, the trainers, the cleaner – everyone.

“They all think I’m mad, but in a nice way.”

Denise and her daughter, Joanna in 2010 (Collect/PA Real Life).
Denise and her daughter, Joanna in 2010 (Collect/PA Real Life).

But even Denise has limits when it comes to energy and admits that by 5pm she is ready to flake out.

“After my tea at 5pm, I’ve had it,” she laughed.

“I usually head straight to bed at 9pm, as I’m up at 6.30am again for the school run.”

Denise and her daughter, Joanna (Collect/PA Real Life).
Denise and her daughter, Joanna (Collect/PA Real Life).

And Denise’s lust for life is not restricted to the gym.

She said: “My family is my focus now, but I am excited to see what is around the corner.

“I am looking forward to visiting my sister Michelle Lewis, 58, in Spain for a few weeks soon, as I haven’t seen her in three years now because of the pandemic.”

Denise and her late husband, Phil Wallington in 2000 (Collect/PA Real Life).
Denise and her late husband, Phil Wallington in 2000 (Collect/PA Real Life).

In the meantime, she will be having fun staying toned.

She said: “I’d advise other people in later life not to be daunted by the gym. Give it a go, because it’s just great.”

* For more information about Fortis and to book a free session visit www.everyoneactive.com/fortis

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