Fond farewell as Leeds fitness instructor retires, aged 82

Dance teacher Maureen (centre, in black) is retiring aged 82.

By Emily Burden

There has been a keep fit class which has been running in Leeds for over 50 years.

Now, as the participants are going gracefully into their senior years, Maureen Hart, the instructor of the women’s fitness class, is retiring at the end of this week. 

Maureen took over the class from the original instructor 22 years ago, when she was 60 years old.

She is now aged 82 and still running the weekly class, in Adel. The ladies who attend are great friends and many raised their families at the same time, always having Maureen’s class ready for a friendly atmosphere and exercise to keep them in shape.

The class attracts students from all over, some coming from Pudsey, Kirkstall and Horsforth. 

Maureen leads the class ahead of her retirement.

Over the years the class has changed in many ways. The initial location, Kirkstall Primary School, was knocked down and the class has been moved to many different places.

But one thing has remained – the group’s dedication to giving back to the community.

They have held frequent charity fundraising events and counting only since 2005, have raised over £11,000 for various charities such as West SILC in Stanningley, Yorkshire Air Ambulance, Ukraine Humanitarian appeal and many more. Because of this hard work Maureen won the Yorkshire Volunteer of the Year award in 2017. 

With such a longstanding group comes many memories. One of Maureen’s highlights is getting to perform with the KFA (Keep Fit Association) at the Royal Albert Hall, as well as the annual recreational weekends away in Scarborough, where keep fit groups from all over Yorkshire meet up and put on shows and classes for one another. 

Maureen told WLD:

“It’s been great being a member but I can’t do it until I’m 100, so I’m retiring. But it (KFA) is a great organisation.

“I think the reason it has lasted is friendship. To put it in one word: ‘friendship’, but not just casual, a really deep personal friendship. You know, if anyone is ever in trouble there is always somebody there. It is like being part of a big family. ”

One student, Lillian Thompson, said:

“She’s wonderful. Of course none of us want her to go but she deserves a rest. It’s not just about exercise, its the getting out. Going out somewhere and meeting old friends, even if its just for an hour or two.”

Fortunately, there will still be a class running on a Tuesday afternoon, but it is located at the Methodist church hall on Horsforth Town Street and taught by Sue Neave, in case you fancy joining the ladies for some rhythm and movement.

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