‘Dancing has kept me young,’ says 80-year-old Ilford fitness instructor

PUBLISHED: 10:00 03 September 2016 | UPDATED: 12:46 05 September 2016

Ann Carr and members of her keep fit class, which she has led since the 1980s.

Ann Carr and members of her keep fit class, which she has led since the 1980s.

Helen Bearfield

It’s not every day that you turn up to a fitness class to discover it is being led by a sprightly 80-year-old woman.

But that is what visitors to certain evening classes at The Drive Methodist Church, Ilford, would find.

Former professional dancer Ann Carr celebrated her 80th birthday on Monday. She was born and raised in Redbridge Lane, but has lived in Glenwood Gardens, Gants Hill for the past 55 years.

The community stalwart has been holding her keep fit sessions since 1980, with many of today’s classes made up of those that started out with her more than 30 years ago.

“The beautiful thing is that we’ve all grown up together through the years, we’re like a little family. We’re there for each other through thick and thin,” said Ann.

“Some of us came through the war, and we’ve all got stories. I guess you could say we’re survivors.”

And that spirit is one of the main reasons Ann continues the work.

She said: “As we get older of course some of us miss some sessions through illness or aches and pains, but we’re still all enthusiastic about it, and I know people feel bad when they miss sessions.”

The sessions, which make use of Ann’s background in classical dance and ballet, help the group do some moderate exercise. They used to run practically every night, but as circumstances changed so did their frequency.

“None of us are as young as we used to be!” added the mother-of-four. “And we never really get a full complement any more as people go off on holiday to get some sun or travel to see family, but we all keep in touch and it’s great to know you

can always drop back in to see everyone.

“It’s not like we accuse people of slacking if they don’t make a regular appearance!”

For Ann however, there’s no such thing as retirement. She runs not one but two dance studios, one in Redbridge and one in Camden, which she took ownership of when a friend passed away.

She said: “I just love dancing, the energy of moving and being able to do it with my friends is what has helped keep me young at heart, I think.”

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