ME AJUDEM (Respoder em portugues!!!)
Meet Britain’s oldest fitness instructor (probably)
Margaret Allen’s fitness class is unusual. There’s a halftime break for cake. And
there’s their age – the youngest is 60. Allen, 93, is the eldest and class
Not many exercise classes have a tea break halfway through. But Margaret
Allen’s does. After a gentle warm-up and a few quick exercises, the 93-year-old
great-grandmother lets her group relax with a cup of tea and a quick rest.
2 Some of the class of eight look as if they need to rest more than others. Allen
herself, wearing a thick shirt, knitted waistcoat, slacks and sensible shoes,
is not even sweating. Despite an extremely painful trapped nerve in one leg and
a knee in need of replacement, she looks like she could go on for hours.
3 The general rule is that eating just before doing sport is not a good idea and
especially not halfway through the class. But, on the afternoon I visit Allen’s
class in Saltburn-by-the-Sea near Middlesbrough, slices of fruitcake are being
passed around during the break. The cake has been baked to celebrate Allen’s
recent birthday by her 89-year-old sister, Joan.
4 The ladies have just finished their cake when Allen is up again, leading the
group through a lively Scottish tune with lots of toe pointing and leg kicking.
Forty-five minutes later, the class is finally over.
5 Allen, a former volunteer with the charity Red Cross, has been leading classes
in the north-east town for 45 years. She wasn’t particularly sporty at school,
but she started playing the piano for a keep-fit class during the second world
war and eventually took over in her 40s when the previous instructor retired.
6 At one time, Allen’s class had more than 18 regulars, each paying £1 a time.
But, these days, the group is getting smaller – during the tea break, the
ladies discuss a funeral that most of them had attended that week for one of
the younger members of the group who had just died, aged 68.
7 Allen is the oldest, followed by her sister. The baby of the group is
60-year-old Jean Cunion, who is a bit embarrassed to admit that she is perhaps
the least fit of the group. “I remember, the first time I came, Margaret said,
‘Who’s that huffing and panting?’ and I had to admit it was me.” Ruth Steere,
76, says Allen always knows what’s going on, although her back is always to the
class: “She always shouts at us if we go wrong. She’s remarkably good at knowing
what we are doing.”
8 Allen, a keen dancer, has never done any formal training to be a fitness
instructor. Instead, she choreographs her own moves based on five tapes from
the BBC’s first ever fitness guru, Eileen Fowler. Allen thinks her good health
is largely a result of keeping busy, especially since her husband died in 1997.
She started writing poetry when she was 80.
9 “I write poems about everything. I’m aprolific writer. I just can’t stop,” she says, when she phones me a few day after the interview to read out a poem she has written about the joys of
exercise. One of the class, 84-year-old former teacher Winnie Robertson, thinks
the secret to staying fit is never letting yourself go: “Use it or lose it,
that’s what I say.”
10Allen still plays the piano and gives speeches. She did a computer course when
she was 88. Ageing is no fun, she admits, reading me a few lines from a poem
she has written called ‘That Beast Called Age’. She happily remembers a doctor
who saw her for the first time a few years ago, who said she couldn’t possibly
be more than 78: “I said, ‘Thank you, doctor. You can go now.’”
11She also has a no-nonsense attitude to weight gain: “I just think people
shouldn’t eat too much. Whenever I hear someone saying, ‘Oh, I can’t lose weight’,
I say: ‘Sellotape.’” She mimes taping her mouth shut. “I said this just the
other day to a big fat man. Everything in moderation is my motto.”
12Earlier in 2013, Allen was watching the news and saw a woman being given the
British Empire Medal. “She was saying: ‘I’m 80 and I’m the oldest fitness
instructor in the country!’ I was thinking: ‘No, you’re not.’ But I shan’t be
writing to Buckingham Palace.”Guardian News and Media 2013
First published in The Guardian, 24/11/13
1. Procure no texto:
a) Qual é a idade de Margaret Allen?
b) Há quanto tempo ela é instrutora de ginástica?
c) Qual o valor que as pessoas pagam pelas aulas?
d) Quando o marido dela morreu?
e) Quantos anos ela tinha quando começou a escrever poesias?