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Life begins at 80 for superfit Mary de Leur

Life begins at 80 for superfit Mary de Leur

With International Day of the Older Person just around the corner, what better time to introduce you to a very active, inspirational older person. The Howick Recreation Centre has many interesting members, none more so than a lady named Mary de Leur who has a special place in the heart of fitness instructor, Sherralyn Whatman.

“All my members are special”, says Sherralyn, Supervisor of the Health Club at the Centre, “but we tend to make a fuss of Mary, a regular member of my low impact aerobics class. This is not just because she is a bit of a character, but because she turns 80 this year and copes with ease in a low impact aerobics class along with others up to 60 years her junior”.

Mary has even been named the Fitness Centre’s ‘Woman of the Month’. “She is such an inspiration to us all, says Sherralynn. “A real live wire, providing plenty of entertainment during the classes with her bubbly personality and motivated attitude. Not only that she really is superfit. I am sure the secret to her youthfulness is her love of life and people.

“She is simply my inspiration and other members of the class are also impressed by her youthful outlook to life. At this age she is doing the class three times a week and doesn’t even stand out particularly as being old. Her figure and level of vitality give her the aura of a woman 20 or even 30 years younger.”

Mary and her late husband came to New Zealand 40 years ago to make a better life for themselves. Arriving here with just 57 guilders, within 2 years they had their own house in Mangere East, where she lived until 4 years ago. She considers herself a true ’ kiwi’ and today lives in Pakuranga.

She has 3 children, 2 sons and a daughter, and 7 grandchildren and 7 great grandchildren! Mary was introduced to the gym in 1988 by her daughter Cory. Many other members of her family have used the gym, and at one stage there were three generations keeping fit there!

And what does Mary have to say about her philosophy to life. “I am an active person and I have to keep moving.” she says. “I love to come to the gym and have done so for the last 14 years. Even when I sustained an injury to my shoulder recently, helping my son move rocks and bags of cement on his section, which I probably shouldn’t have been doing! I had therapy but continued with aerobics, I take the approach that if I keep busy and active any pain I have doesn’t bother me so much.

“The people here, particularly Sherralyn, who has become my good friend, make me feel life is worth living. I look forward to coming to the gym. And of course I have a supportive family and enjoy my many grandchildren and greatchildren. They keep me young.”

Sherralyn tells a story which really sums up this remarkable women and the way others regard her. “A young girl who had just had a baby came up to talk to me about getting back into shape and I asked her what her goals were and she replied that she just wanted to be like Mary.”

What a compliment to Howick Recreation Centre’s Woman of the month, the youthful Mary de Leur. Mary’s lesson to people of all ages is -‘keep moving or lose it!’.

© Scoop Media

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