Last updated on November 19th, 2023 at 03:59 PM
PureGym has hosted the UK’s first-ever fitness competition dedicated solely to people aged over 50 years of age, with entrants from across the country battling it out to win the title of the ‘Fittest Over 50’.
Most fitness competitions are geared towards younger entrants, and many age categories in weightlifting and athletics events ending at just 35 years old. PureGym wants to change this misconception.
The gym chain held the London-based event to demonstrate that fitness truly has no age limit and help more people to realise that it’s never too late to start exercising.
The event itself was split in two halves, with the first being a test of all-out strength which saw entrants competing to lift the highest percentage of their bodyweight across three big lifts (the bench press, front squat and deadlift).
Meanwhile, the second event mixed endurance, power and mobility in a ‘Full Body Fitness Sprint’; a race to the finish line that combined running, rowing and functional exercises such as the sled push and farmers carry.
Who Took Part In The Over 50s Fitness Championships?
The competition helped to back up the saying ‘you’re never too old’ with each person who took part, with impressive lifts and sprint times being logged across the day.
Winning lifts included a 220kg deadlift (234% bodyweight) by Clifford Macduff, a 62-year-old from London and a 52.5kg bench press (79% bodyweight) performed by Noreen Kay (58).
For the Full Body Fitness Sprint, which included a 1km run and 1km row alongside sled pushes, farmers carries and a gruelling 500m ski-erg race, the fastest time of 11 minutes and 23 seconds was logged by Steven Price from Gloucester, who credits their fitness at the age of 52 to being a part of the growing HYROX community, having met like-minded people who all help to push one another.
Husband and wife team Richard and Sally Boutal (both 63 years old) also took part in the competition and discussed how for them, keeping fit beyond fifty is all about maintaining a great quality of life, “Our main motivation for working out is just everyday things.
You know, we want to be able to put our bags in the overhead lockers, so be able to lift 20 kilos. If I fall, I want to be able to get up again when I’m 90. The feeling of being strong and well is just great.”
Heather Avul (50) from Leicester, who won overall in the women’s sprint competition added her advice for people hoping to become fitter and stronger later in life: “Go for it. I started running in my 40’s and I’m 50 now and running the London Marathon a second time. Get up there and do it, because it’s never too late to be able to get fit.”
This mantra is echoed by Allison Rodger (63), who took home gold for her weightlifting, despite not having always been an avid gym goer, “The fitness of my youth got a bit lost in time and resulted in weight gain and very little activity as I reached my late fifties until one moment, in particular, made me make a change for the better. I had to run for the bus, but when I made it, I was so out of breath I said to the driver ‘I really need to do something about this’.
Since then, I joined a gym and have gone from not knowing how to use any of the equipment, to getting stronger and faster than people decades younger than me! To be standing here today just taking part, let alone being a winner, is a huge achievement for me, and should show anyone, no matter their age, that they can do it too”.
Why Is Keeping Fit Later In Life So Important?
Exercise has been proven to have an overwhelmingly positive effect on a person’s health, regardless of age. British Heart Foundation (BHF) funded research has shown that keeping active as you age lowers the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and osteoporosis.
According to the BHF, exercise can help everyone live a happier and healthier life. When it comes to the heart, exercise can reduce your risk of heart and circulatory diseases by up to 35%.
Regular exercise can also help reduce blood pressure and cholesterol; two factors which can increase your risk of developing heart and circulatory diseases as we get older.
Sophie Overall, Partnerships Manager at the British Heart Foundation, said: “It was such a fantastic day, and we were glad we could be there to see the competition as well as share information about blood pressure.
“Our partnership provides an exciting opportunity for PureGym and the BHF to combine our expertise on fitness and heart health together and to the public just how intrinsically they’re entwined.
“This competition was an excellent way to showcase that age is just a number and with the right support, anyone can start their exercise journey.”
The BHF recommend those with a heart condition should always consult with their healthcare professional before embarking on exercise.
Stephen Rowe, Chief Marketing Officer at PureGym added: “Providing an inclusive environment, where anyone – no matter their age – feels they can come and achieve their fitness goals is incredibly important to us.
We’re very proud to have many members consistently proving to us that age really is just a number, with individuals in their later years visiting our gyms regularly to get their workouts in, and the UK’s oldest personal trainer Eddy Diget within our ranks too.
With this in mind, we wanted to create an event that would celebrate those in their fifties and beyond who are already active and inspire those who are worried they are too old to get started.
Watching everyone give it their all and seeing the competitors celebrate their wins, whether a PB of their own or a title in the competition, was fantastic to see.
We want to thank all the entrants for coming along and demonstrating that there’s no age limit on fitness, and we hope more inclusive events like this one are a common occurrence in the future.”
In attendance on the day, the British Heart Foundation provided health information and awareness of the risks of high blood pressure and the impact it can have on the heart.
For more information on the event itself and to see all the individual winners from the day, visit: puregym.com/over-50-fitness-championships