Reinventing yourself at midlife is something that keeps cropping up. Elsie McCay was a civil servant for 31 years. At 51 she started retraining as an FLexercise teacher.
I was first introduced to The Fitness League in a little town called Silverdale in New Zealand. My partner’s mother asked me to go along to her exercise class on a Monday morning, and as this was one of the first times I had met her, I thought I had better go, much to the amusement of the rest of the family, who teased me about going to granny’s exercise class. Well, along I went with Anne to the venue, I was first introduced to a group of ladies at the entrance who made me feel so welcome. Anne then introduced me to the lovely lady called Olive the class instructor. After some chit chat, we got down to business! Wow, this was amazing, at least 30 ladies and 1 gent. All a lot more senior to me all moving and following the instructor.
The music was great, the moves were flowing and everyone was enjoying themselves. After class about 10 of us went for coffee, checking diaries, general chit chat and laughter were all on the menu. I came back home with Anne and felt great and a little stiff the next day. This was January 2014 and I knew I wanted to bring this back to Northern Ireland. John, my fiancé, and I return every year to visit our families in New Zealand and every year I go along with Anne to her class.
After researching I discovered that I would have to travel to Scotland or England to train. But I knew in 2014 that this was not the right time for me. However, every year I returned from New Zealand I was more and more inspired and enthused. When I returned from New Zealand in March 2018 I bit the bullet and decided I was going for it. Within a couple of weeks I had enrolled on the next FLexercise training course in Edinburgh and had my online learning pack. It was all happening, I was reinventing myself! Returning to studying was something else but well worth all the hours.
On my first training day, I flew to Edinburgh. Here I was introduced to my training buddies by my tutor Sally. The FLexercise training team have been so supportive, especially Sally. I passed my exams in September and was due to do my summative assessment in early October. Unfortunately, my dear mum was diagnosed with an aggressive terminal illness and my world fell apart. I put all on hold and nursed mum over the short time we had with her. Prior to mum’s illness, she was so delighted for me and knew how much I wanted to train as a FLexercise teacher. Mum was always by my side, helping me practice, even said she would be in the front row of my class when I’d start, but that was not to be.
Three months after mum’s death, and with the encouragement from Sally and my friend Sandra from the study group I picked up were I had left off and qualified in March 2019. I have met some of the most supportive people in my community who have helped me so much. However, it’s what FLexercise classes does for others that makes it all worthwhile.
I have ladies who pull me aside and tell me how much they enjoy coming to class each week, I don’t know about you all but this is like a tonic. FLexercise is so inclusive for everyone regardless of their ability. It’s about making small lifestyle changes by moving and getting that feel-good factor back. Some of my classes are run in rural communities and I feel the social aspect is such an important element. Of course, coffee and tray bakes are always on the agenda after my Thursday morning class, which is great fun. At present, I have three classes running, one morning and two evenings. There is a lot of work goes on behind the scenes before I appear in class but it’s all so worthwhile and inspiring. I am so looking forward to seeing FLexercise spread throughout Northern Ireland in the coming months and years.
If you’re thinking about reinventing yourself I would say embrace it! Having a bit of fear is completely natural but find the support you need and go for it!