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Edna, becoming a fitness instructor at 66

Article by Edna Levitt

‘You know mum – you’re middle aged – it’s about time you started exercising – I’ve just joined the McGill University gym – you should do the same – join a gym.’  That phone call from my son Michael came six months after my 50th birthday.  Clearly he had decided it was time his mother got off the couch! 

May I step back a bit before I continue?

I actually came from a very lazy family – when I was growing up in Glasgow, Scotland, I never even saw my parents going for as much as a walk!  Neither of them played any sports whatsoever, and back then, gyms didn’t exist. We really didn’t know what we know now – that exercise is the best thing we can do for our health. The result was that I was a bit of a lazy slob, and knew absolutely nothing about the benefits of keeping fit. I did do a bit of yoga in my 30’s, and I also tried some speed-walking.  But my life was about to change ….. at the age of 43, following the sudden death of my husband, I decided to emigrate to Toronto, Canada. I packed my bags and Michael and I headed out for our adventure!

It was 21 years ago, but I will never forget that conversation with Michael – my knee-jerk reaction was to tell him to look after his body and I would look after mine – but I guess something must have registered, because when we returned from our Christmas vacation a few weeks later, I did in fact, join my local gym. After five days of speed-walking round the track, I was incredibly bored, and noticed there was an aerobics class in an adjoining area – I decided to join in.  That was when I became a ‘fitness groupie’!  It didn’t take too long before I was working out five times a week and I realized I had become committed to keeping my body healthy …..furthermore, I really liked looking toned!  

I should become a personal trainer for’ little old ladies’!

Then in 2005, while waiting in the supermarket checkout, someone stopped me  and asked if I ‘worked out’.  When I asked why, she told me she could tell ‘because of my arms’!  I was stunned, but I guess 15 years of regular workouts was starting to show! The following day, at my early morning gym class I was telling my gym-buddy about the comment from the woman in the supermarket, and I heard myself saying ‘You know I should become a personal trainer for little old ladies’. ‘Good idea’ she said.  That was when I had my epiphany – yes, I would become a personal trainer! I immediately went online to find out where I could receive my training.

 I spent the entire winter studying the course material, which was a huge challenge for me as I had never done a science course in my life. I found it incredibly difficult to gain knowledge of all the muscle groups that control my body. I managed to stick with it, however, with the help of a young fitness instructor at my gym who agreed to tutor me. Six months later I graduated. And I decided to launch my business and start to look for clients.

I decided to call my business 50+ fitness, and at the age of 66, I felt I was more than qualified to work with this demographic.  In the past five years my business has grown in ways I never anticipated. In addition to my personal training clients, I teach two fitness classes each week at a seniors’ centre. But the most interesting part of this neophyte personal training business is that three years ago I was asked to create and present ‘Muscles Matter’, a workshop addressing the benefits of resistance training for older adults. It has been incredibly popular, as right now, fitness for baby boomers is on everyone’s radar screen. The result is I spend a fair amount of time presenting ‘Muscles Matter to corporations, retiree clubs, women’s and seniors groups in Southern Ontario. In developing the workshop, I realized it would be an positive feature to demonstrate various exercises using a resistance band.

Invariably, audience members would ask me where they could buy resistance bands, and by the way, how could they possibly remember the exercises I had shown them, In response to this, I decided to publish an exercise book. I launched ‘Personal Trainer to Go’ (check it out on my website – http://www.50plus-fitness.ca/) in the summer of 2010 and it has been a real success! I can hardly believe at age 71, I am having such an amazing time with this unexpected reinvention of me.

So ….. when people ask me – ‘what do you think you’ll be doing in five years?’  I’d like to think I can continue with this stimulating work, which I so thoroughly enjoy – and provided my body holds out, I don’t see why not!

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  1. Denise

    March 28, 2011

    Brilliant and inspiring!!

    • Edna LEvitt

      March 29, 2011

      Thanks Denise – I really appreciate your comment.

      I’ve been called inspiring, but NEVER brilliant!



    • Sukie Katz

      February 4, 2012

      Edna is truly inspiring and proves that age should not be an impediment.

  2. tula romeu

    July 22, 2011

    hi,ive been teaching yoga for some yrs and love it, inspired by vanda scaravelli a very deep sensing feeling and action way of working its a little like pilates ,i used to teach step and airobics yrs ago ,though i dont want to give up yoga i feel i need something with a a bit more action and umph,if you know what i mean .seeing you has very much inspired me as its not so easey to find a new careea at 67 ,also the study work scares the pants off me!but you look so GREAT toned and joyfull in your photo ,im going to ck it out in the uk.also fed up with living on a shoe string.

    • Kelly

      March 3, 2014

      Hi Tula,

      Do you still teach yoga? I am looking to interview women over the age of 50 who are still working and keeping fit. It would be great to speak to you. If you would be willing to let me interview you please email me at:

      Many thanks,

  3. annette geddes

    August 27, 2011

    I AM A FITNESS INSTRUCTOR TEACHING FOR 22 YRS I am at present 56 years old ,… Icame across youn on the internet by chance .. I THINK YOU ARE INSPIRATIONAL

  4. Hazel

    October 21, 2012

    I am very impressed and no longer feeling smug about retraining and qualifying as a personal trainer at the young age of 51!

  5. Rhonda

    August 18, 2013

    Thank you for the inspiration, Edna! I’m 51 and looking at the possibility of an early retirement. I hope to turn my love of fitness and teaching into part-time work as a fitness instructor for older adults. Women like you who set a brilliant example are a blessing – thanks again.

  6. Suvra

    May 16, 2014

    Dear Edna,
    I am impressed. But I cannot join your classes as I am living in a far off place. Have you published any book? Do let me know.

  7. Millie Lesher

    June 2, 2014

    Edna , thank you so much for your inspiring testimony !!!! I started pilates at 50 and became a Pilates trainer at 54… I have loved it … I am now 61 and wondered how much longer they would except me as an instructor. I have been wanting to expand my knowledge and clients but began to doubt myself . As I read your article, I became inspired and excited that our passion NEVER has to end. There are so many men and women out there that need trainers like us that they can relate to …THANK YOU !!! I am starting my extended career today ….Millie Lesher

  8. shannon slattery

    June 26, 2014

    I am 66 years young and will be taking a CPT course so I can become a personal trainer for seniors. Edna, it is great to hear your story, thank you for sharing. What training course did you take to become a trainer?

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