Martine Howard: ‘I trained to be a Zumba teacher at 54’
-Feb 8, Hannah Hargrave, Fitness -
When Martine Howard decided to become a Zumba instructor at the age of 54 she was not going to let the fact she was surrounded by people half her age intimidate her.
Determined to prove she was most certainly not too old to kickstart a new fitness venture Martine Howard, pictured below, threw herself passionately and energetically into the project and became one of the first people in Britain to be trained to teach the lively, latin inspired dance class.
Now at almost 63-years-old she leads classes every day of the week and prides herself on inspiring other women to lead a more active lifestyle.
“I’m not afraid to say that I think I look pretty good for me age,” Martine enthusiastically boasts to Lumity. “Exercise keeps you young. When people meet me and find out my age they say ‘how old?’ and that makes me feel good. That’s what keeping fit has done for me.”
Martine openly admits she was far from a dance newbie when she embarked on her Zumba training. In fact she is a former dancer and singer who was in the the 70s pop band ‘Guys N Dolls’.
But the point she wants to make is that it is never too late to get in shape and you shouldn’t be deterred because you’re worried about looking silly!
“When I had to get my fitness certification, I had to do it alongside all these people who were about 20-years-old,” she says. “I did that at 54 years old.”
Had she been put off by her younger competitors it never would have happened and so she says she packs her classes in Denham, Buckinghamshire with encouragement and modifications so that anyone can join in.
“The women in my classes range from about 50 to 80 and if you saw how some of them started out, not being able to put one foot in front of the other, and how they are now you’d be impressed.
“They do all the moves, they modify them to suit their bodies and it’s a joy to see it.”
When asked what it is about Zumba that makes it so appealing to older women or ladies who have never exercised before she says honestly: “People don’t feel they are exercising.”
However that’s meant as a compliment to the dance classes because they are so much fun you don’t realise how active you are.
“They come to class and love the music. They love the fusion of the different dances. They feel like they at a social event – a dance party. Everyone can join in and be as energetic as their bodies will allow them to be.”
Martine admits she fears people are too sedentary nowadays and wishes they could see what exercise can do for your body and your mind as you age.
“I continued to teach all the way through my menopause,” Martine explains. “I did not even notice it happening. There was the odd hormone swing but I think exercise helped that.
“All those ailments you get as you get older, they can disappear with exercise or at the very least decrease. Yes, your body will feel more tired as you age but you modify your exercise to suit that. You don’t cut it out completely or use it as an excuse not to get started.”
So can Martine ever see herself hanging up her dancing shoes?
“I will be teaching until I physically can’t,” she adds. “For as long as I can teach there is no reason not to. It keeps me fit and mobile and it gives me great joy to see others reaping the same rewards.”
If you enjoyed this article you might like to read about this superfit grandmother of seven and how Lou Kenny took the modelling world by storm in her 50s.