member profile: marian robertson, group exercise instructor, nsw

Where do you live and work?

Queenscliffe, near Manly on Sydney’s Northern Beaches.

What fitness qualifications do you hold?

I became a qualified fitness instructor in 1989.

What is your main role in the fitness industry?

Group exercise instructor specialising in teaching older adults

How did you arrive at where you are today in your career?

I moved to Australia from the UK in 1979 when I was in my mid-twenties. I was a registered nurse and soon started working in Royal Prince Alfred Hospital (RPA) in Sydney. I was always into keeping active (I’ve since played competitive squash and tennis and have been playing golf for 20 years), but my interest in helping others get fit started in the nurses’ home next to the RPA. With a tiny cassette player by my side I started teaching, mostly grapevines and easy steps, to four or five fellow nurses. I ended up leading a class of 40 girls every week. So, I decided to do the right thing and became registered and qualified in 1989.

After that I started hiring local community halls to teach group exercise classes for the over 40’s and then the over 50’s, which I kept up for the next 25 years. I then decided to take a break from my own business of teaching and worked for 18 months at Virgin Active setting up the Young at Heart program there. After that I started some volunteer work with a cerebral palsy organisation. I’d stepped aside from the fitness industry for a little while, but it wasn’t something I could stay away from for long, despite facing a rather big challenge.

Can you tell us more about this challenge?

A couple of years ago I noticed that my fitness regime was getting noticeably harder to maintain. I thought it was my age, so I went to the doctor and had a blood test which revealed that I had lymphoma. I was very surprised as I had no other symptoms. Fortunately for me it’s slow growing. I had some treatment last March and I’m feeling really well now. I recently decided that I wanted to go back and re-register to teach older adults again.

What are the best aspects of teaching Group Ex?

Exercising to music is amazing: it has always motivated me to work harder and the class time just flies by. I love watching people smile, being happy and singing along to Elvis and The Beatles, not realising they are investing in their health.

Any specific highlights?

A career in fitness has many highlights, but one that always stands out for me is taking a fitness routine at my two girls’ primary school with over 100 kids dancing in front of me (my daughters in the front row). I’m really happy that my girls (now grown up!) now also work as fitness instructors in their spare time.

What’s your main focus now and what are your goals for the future?

I recently volunteered as Event Crew at FILEX – which was amazing (and I got through it, hooray!). I am positive I can still help people improve their fitness levels and start enjoying their lives to the full.

What motto or words of wisdom sum up your fitness/life philosophy?

Always try and live in the present, and do your best at whatever life throws at you.

And finally – who would be on your ultimate dinner party guest list, and why?

I would love to host Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson because I love their music and always play some in my classes. Jamie Oliver too, because I love his recipes, and last but not least Mrs Lisa Champion – she’s a lovely lady and always takes time to say hello and ask how things are.

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