I am not an athlete. I was never an athlete, taking instead for granted a level of fitness which allowed me to enjoy exercise and fresh air – in the form of walking, cycling and vegetable gardening.

Such an attitude served me well – until I turned sixty. Apparently, this is when slow down, a natural loss of fitness, speeds up: from 1% every 10 years to 10% every 10 years. Sure enough, at that time I had begun to notice a progressive loss of strength (I needed lower and lower gears to cycle up familiar hills). I was staring frailty in the face, unless I did something about it.

Retirement didn’t help: working without a desk, I had always been on my feet. And moving home, from London to Newcastle, only added to the challenge. What I needed was an ‘outdoor fitness company’.

ODFC meets all such needs. For instance, Jesmond Dene, always full of fresh air, during a boot camp session is also full of exercise options. Winter weather matters not a jot: the ‘warm-up’ means just that. Motivation is never lacking: the instructor offers endless encouragement and classmates inspire each other by example. Every session is different, except that every session gives rise to a feeling of tiredness, which doesn’t last, and a feeling of well-being, which does last.

Did I forget to mention that stretching is important? It certainly is. Stretch yourself!

Brian Rance (b.1946)