Proving that age is no barrier, Glenda Cullen has managed to row over one million metres on the rowing machine. Despite being 70 years old, busy with work commitments, and running around after the grandkids, Glenda finds the time to pop into Lagoon Pool and Leisure Centre, managed by YMCA.

When Glenda first started five or six years ago, she had never rowed before in her life. She first got into rowing because she heard from a friend that it was a good overall exercise to do – it burns several times the amount of calories as a spinning class, and with each stroke, pretty much every part of the body is used.

 “One million metres was a hard slog. I started off quite nonchalant about the idea and found that it became easier and easier to manage over the years. I also had a rowing friend who supported me, and he was always telling me that I could do more. I’d jokingly say ‘shut up, leave me alone,’ because I’d be out of breath. But he had already done 10 million metres, so he was actually really inspiring,” says Glenda.

Having now completed one million metres herself, Glenda’s friend doesn’t need to keep motivating her. On the contrary, Glenda is well on her way to the two million mark, and expects to be able to complete it within about a year. The first million metres took several years, which just goes to show how much higher her fitness level is now.

Glenda first decided to join Lagoon Pool and Leisure Centre managed by YMCA because it was close to where she lived and she found the staff helpful and encouraging. Glenda is now also very fond of one rowing machine, in particular – the one that has helped her reach the million mark. Staff often joke with her that it’s ‘Glenda’s machine.’

“If I can do it, anybody can!” says Glenda. “I’ve had lots of times where I’ve thought ‘this is enough, I’m going to stop now’, but then I usually just push through. It goes to show that if you put your mind to it, then you can do it. And I’d love to see someone else in my age range give it a go.”

Already Glenda inspires the other people who go on the rowing machines. She often answers questions that the newcomers have, and gives them encouragement to keep going. “I always say ‘just ease into it. You’ll get there eventually.’” She knows from experience that the body needs to take a bit of time to get adjusted to the intense exercise. “When I first started rowing – oh! – the pain! I’d have to stop and get up, walk around, but now I don’t feel anything.”

As a matter of fact, Glenda’s own approach to the rowing machines has changed over the years. If you want to row like Glenda then just follow her routine: a warm-up of 1000 metres at your own pace, then going hard for 500 metres, easing back for 500, pushing hard for another 500, and so on.

Come down to Lagoon Pool and Leisure Centre managed by YMCA  and give it a go – you’ll certainly have a friend in Glenda (just try not to use her favourite machine)!