An Interview with Irene Estry – Health & Fitness Instructor to the Stars

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Irene Estry – Health & Fitness Instructor to the Stars

Getting older is, of course, a fact of life - there is unfortunately no magic potion for eternal youth. But that doesn’t mean we should give up the ‘desire to be eternally healthy’.

That is the mantra of 73-year-old health and fitness instructor to the stars, Irene Estry. Irene’s exercise classes have become an institution over the past few decades – particularly among the ‘silver surfers’ generation.

Life Begins At 40

For Irene, life began at 40 - that was the age she began her fitness career.

Although she was a dance/sport-oriented teenager - by her own admission more ‘brawny than brainy’ - she didn’t follow that career path straight away. When she left school she trained as a make-up artist and ended up working and modelling for Max Factor.

After meeting and marrying a sailor at 19, she had two children – Stephen and Fran – and became a full-time mum, even home-schooling her son as he had learning difficulties.

It was when the children reached their teen years that Irene was invited to a fitness class with a friend and realised that was what she wanted to do. She trained for two years, after which she became a qualified choreographer with an exciting career ahead of her.

Many of her first clients – or friends as she always refers to them – are the same ladies who are with her now. One of the women she helped in the early days of her career was actress Pat Phoenix, who played Elsie Tanner in Coronation Street. Pat told her colleagues at Granada how Irene had helped her, through exercise, ease the back pain she had been having and that is how she got her introduction to the world of TV. 

Irene has now been a permanent fitness fixture at the ITV Studios in Manchester for decades and more than a few famous faces have passed through her capable hands. The grandmother-of-two has even appeared on TV with some of them - a notably amusing time was a comedy double act with Top Gear presenter, Richard Hammond!

Growing Old ‘Dis-gracefully’

As well as her public and celebrity fitness classes, Irene also travels the country sharing her health and fitness tips and has also written a book, Growing Old Disgracefully: The Mature Woman's Manual, in which she talks about issues older women face.

In Irene’s opinion, it is a privilege to grow old and is a part of life we should embrace, not dread. She says: “I very much believe in natural aging. I embrace the concept of being happy about the upcoming years and the journey. If we’re lucky, we get old.”

Irene’s Top Health and Fitness Tips

  1. Don’t stop moving: For as long as you can move, move. If you can walk, walk a little faster to build up a bit of cardiovascular.
  2. Keep up everyday activities: Continue as much as possible with everyday activities, gardening, dancing, and swimming – anything that keeps the heart rate going.
  3. Build up strength: Use small weights or your own body weight and stay up on your joints as much as possible.
  4. Balance and co-ordination: Learn about stretching.
  5. Consistency: Do one of the above four to five times per week for 30 to 50 minutes, if possible.
  6. Good food: Nourish your body.
  7. PMA: Always maintain a Positive Mental Attitude.
  8. Communication: Work on your communication skills; it’s always good to talk!
  9. Focus: Never lose your sense of adventure or passion for life.
  10. Dream: Although we’re getting older, we’re still kids inside.