I’ve never looked better – and even get asked out by men 30 years my junior

I regularly give folks much younger than me a run for their money with my fitness levels.

I’ve never looked better – and even get asked out by men 30 years my junior
Pauline Adeleke smiles in fitness bra next to image of her lifting weights
I’m often asked what my secret is (Picture: Pauline Adeleke)

Watching one of my clients working through the exercise program I’d designed for her in her living room, I cheered from behind my computer screen.

I’m an online fitness coach, and seeing women getting results from my bespoke workouts feels absolutely wonderful.

They tell me I’ve given them hope. Their determination inspires me in turn.

At 71 years old I’m the fittest, strongest and healthiest I’ve ever been, and I don’t plan on retiring any time soon. I regularly give folks much younger than me a run for their money with my fitness levels.

I’ve always had an interest in fitness. Living in New York as a child, I loved a form of jump-rope called Double Dutch – I was a pro at it.

However, it wasn’t until 1986, after being tragically widowed at 34, that my love for fitness really took off.

Losing my husband was devastating, and I could have easily sunk into a dark depression. But I knew I needed to keep myself going because I had two young sons who needed me.

Pauline with her two grandchildren, she is wearing sunglasses and smiling
Jade with her grandsons (Picture: Pauline Adeleke)

I had to hustle. Took whatever work I could get, often working multiple jobs at a time.

I’ve done it all. Been everything from a flight attendant and elementary school teacher to entrepreneur and freelance ghostwriter. 

Still, I always made sure to prioritise my health and fitness.

I would often get up at 5am and run up and down the stairs in my apartment block before getting the boys ready for school. It was all about finding those moments for me amidst the madness.

It was my outlet – it helped me keep my head on straight.  

Plus, I wanted to set a good example for my boys. 

Pauline pushing grandson in pram
I always made sure to prioritise my health and fitness (Picture: Pauline Adeleke)

As I got older, having a good relationship with health and fitness only became more important. Especially as I started the menopause.

Around the age of 50 however, having spent three months in Spain, I had a bit of a wobble.

Having enjoyed plenty of sangria and tapas during my stay, I returned to New York 30 lbs heavier.

Pauline in selfie, showing strong arms
I’d lost weight, gained muscle definition and definitely didn’t need those meds (Picture: Pauline Adeleke)

Concerned, my doctor warned me that my cholesterol was too high and said that he wanted to start me on medication to get it under control, but I said, ‘No, give me three months’.

I went home and knuckled down, moving to a completely plant-based diet and working out daily, using a mixture of resistance training, weights and callisthenics.

When I returned three months later, my doctor’s face was a picture.

‘What did you do?’ he gasped. I was a new woman, I’d lost weight, gained muscle definition and definitely didn’t need those meds. 

Pauline wearing hat in portrait
My own body has been my billboard (Picture: Alex Palombo)

And it wasn’t just the doctors who were taking note. Suddenly, friends in their 40s and 50s were coming to me with questions. 

‘How do you look so good?’ they asked. ‘What’s your secret?’

That’s when I decided to become a fitness trainer. So many people were asking for my help, so I turned it into a career. 

I’m currently working towards becoming a certified trainer, but so far my own body has been my billboard. I’m a walking advertisement for myself.

I built my client base by marketing myself, the internet and through referrals. Nine out of 10 clients are online clients and I design workouts they can do in their own homes.

Pauline with her son and grandchildren all are smiling
Pauline, one of her sons, and grandchildren (Picture: Pauline Adeleke)

Twenty years on, I’m stronger than ever and still training five clients every day.

All my clients are younger than me – mostly mid-life women in their 40s and 50s – but I’m very flattered that they come to me for help.  

Of course, I also continue to prioritise my own health and fitness too.

My days begin with prayer, meditation and reading spiritual texts, before starting my training sessions with clients around 8am. 

As for my fitness, I do my own personal workouts for around two-and-a-half hours a day and regularly work out alongside people young enough to be my grandchildren.

I mix up my own workouts to keep things interesting, using a variety of cardio and strength training.

Exercises that Pauline swears by

  • Ab workouts – like sit ups and Russian twists – on a Bosu ball while holding an exercise ball
  • Mike Tyson push ups – where your feet are pressed against a wall and you move your bum back to your calves before exploding forward to achieve normal push up position
  • Getting outside and using park benches for exercises such as step ups and tricep dips, or heavy rocks for squats, shoulder presses
  • Running up and down flights of stairs
  • Jogging in place

I often make videos of myself doing these things that I can send to my clients. I tell them NO EXCUSES – especially when it comes to exercising outdoors. Grab whatever is available and get down to it.

I still follow a vegan wholefood diet too, with lots of smoothies, beans and seeds, organic green vegetables and an intermittent fasting schedule. 

Pauline wearing hat and fitness bra
I’m so glad I took the time to look after myself (Picture: Alex Palombo)

You could say I’m pretty disciplined. In fact, my best friend of 60 years told me recently I’m the most determined person she’s ever met.

I say this blushing, but I’m often mistaken for someone younger. As a matter of fact I’ve had younger men in their 40s asking me out.

I treat my body like a rare and precious jewel because that’s exactly what it is.  

Come bedtime my body is ready for rest and that’s it – lights out. 

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I’m so glad I took the time to look after myself as well as my sons. Matthew and John are grown up now, of course, and aside from giving me six grandkids, they are both really into fitness too and super proud of their active mum. 

Now I want other women to know not to leave themselves at the bottom of the pile. After all, how can you look after everyone else around you if you’re not taking good care of yourself?

Picture of Pauline at 16 next to image of Pauline at 71
Picture of Pauline at 16 next to image of Pauline at 71 (Picture: Pauline Adeleke)

Life is about learning, expanding and growing at whatever stage you’re at. It’s not selfish to look after number one, to be committed and to make your own wellbeing your top priority.

Love your body. Show it how much you respect it and the rest will come. That’s a philosophy that’s served me well this far.

As for retirement… not me. Never! 

I still have life left in me. I don’t need to be set aside. And you certainly won’t find me in a rocking chair any time soon.

As told to Jade Beecroft

Age is Just a Number

Welcome to Age is Just a Number, a Metro.co.uk series aiming to show that, when it comes to living your life, achieving your dreams, and being who you want to be, the date on your birth certificate means nothing.

Each week, prepare to meet amazing people doing stereotype-defying things, at all stages of life.

If you have a story to share, email [email protected]

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