There’s Something About Mary!
Mary Porter is our longest-serving member; when she joined the gym 11 years ago, she was 74 years old and had never had a gym membership before; Mary attends 3 sessions a week and does an 18-mile round trip to attend; she kept training throughout aggressive chemotherapy; she has no cartilage in her hip but has avoided surgery; she was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes two months after joining the gym in 2007 but asked the doctor to keep her off medication while she got fit at Bee-Fit – her diabetes is now controlled by diet and exercise.
Mary, who was a social worker before she retired in 1996, was determined to have an active retirement. She was a rambler for several years until hip and foot pain got the better of her. Already a member at Reflections Spa at Pontlands Park in Great Baddow, in 2007 Mary was enticed by an offer to have a two-week free personal training trial at the newly-formed Elms Personal Fitness (now called Bee-Fit Club and based in Beehive Lane).
“I’d never been a member of a gym and never been athletic,” explains Mary. “But I couldn’t do the rambling anymore and I knew I had to keep moving. By the time I had done the two-week trial, I was converted. I’d have joined a gym years ago if there had been a gym like this one. I felt safe, because every session was guided by a personal trainer, and motivated. I lost one and a half stone in the first year and my doctor reduced my blood pressure medication.”
Several years later, Mary was diagnosed with lymphoma. Despite being told by her oncologist that training would be out of question during her treatment, Mary continued to do regular, if gentle, sessions throughout her aggressive chemotherapy.
“The trainers supported me. The treatment was gruelling and my osteoarthritis worsened while I was able to do less at Bee-Fit, but I was determined to do what I could. Every trainer here knows the members so well: what we can do, our limits, what health or injury challenges we may be facing, if we need to be pushed and challenged (which I know I do!). Plus, the gym provides great company from the trainers and the other members. It’s easy to become isolated when you retire, especially if you’re used to working with teams of people, as I was.”
Mary sings in several choirs and had the privilege of performing at the Carnegie Hall in New York in 2016. Mary said: “I would never have had the stamina to perform and spend hours standing in concert halls if I hadn’t kept physically fit.”
Mary is testament to the fact that it is never too late to join a gym. Of course, Bee-Fit Club is different to most gyms and the personal training concept means that the training is kept interesting and varied and, importantly, members are supported and kept safe. But Mary insists that Bee-Fit has kept her mobile, improved her posture, helped to control her health issues and is an important part of her week.
As Bee-Fit’s trainers, Matt, Tazz and Alex are always saying, “Age is just a number”. Mary is certainly proof of that.
Gym MD Matt King said: “Mary is a much-loved Bee-Fit member. We have members between the age of 15 and 86 at the gym. We welcome all shapes, sizes and different levels of fitness from the fitness novice to elite athletes. Our members are all individuals with their own individual goals. Our aim is to help each and every one of them reach and exceed those goals and to establish a healthy, enjoyable fitness regime – whatever their age.”