Grandma Julie Ford says she’s determined to look – and feel – as good at 70 as she does at 20.
The 69-year-old puts on abs in her bikini and likes to show off her toned physique in crop tops, saying she refuses to “become invisible” as she gets older.
And as a part-time PE teacher, she urges other women her age to take up sports.
Julie, the founder of the running resistance band, rubbedwants to prove that you can still ‘look sexy’ at a later age.
Julie, who lives in Eastbourne with her husband, Jerry Armstrong, 67, says: “I’ve done the ‘fabulous 50’s’ and the ‘sexy 60’s’ and now I’m planning to do the ‘super fit 70’s.’
“I always make sure I look sexy with things like frilly crop tops.
“All my life I’ve shown my body, not because I’m vain, but because I feel good.”
From an early age, Julie was always active.
She says, “I was never very academic in school, I just always wanted to run around outside.
‘I knew I wanted to be a gym teacher from about 11 years old.’
But also outside her job as a teacher, Julie has always liked to do sports.
She says, “Outside of work, in the 1980s I taught Jane Fonda exercise classes to adults, as well as hockey and netball, and running, cycling and walking.
‘I still run, bike and run, but a few years ago I had to give up netball and hockey because I was busy on the weekends.’
Having her son, Matthew Armstrong-Ford, 33, and daughter, Kristina Armstrong-Ford, 30, in her 30s didn’t curb her love of fitness either.
She says: ‘I continued to work as a PE teacher, but outside of school I took strength training and dance lessons.
‘The children participated or were dragged along to watch the korfball and hockey games.’
While Julie loved the buzz of exercise, she also found that it gave her great body confidence.
“I worked hard to be fit and healthy so I could look good,” she says.
“I used to be known as the lady in the village who cycled everywhere with hardly any clothes on because I only wore shorts and a crop top.”
In September 2016, at age 63, Julie was diagnosed with stage two breast cancer, but that didn’t stop her.
“It was a routine mammogram appointment and they saw something and called me back,” she says.
“When they said it was stage two breast cancer, I couldn’t believe it because I felt so healthy.”
Julie underwent radiotherapy for a month and said she was lucky to fly through her treatment.
She says: ‘It’s still hard to believe I ever had cancer because I felt so healthy all the time.
“I didn’t want to give up my job, so I timed my treatment around the fall break so I could continue.”
Although Julie got through her treatment relatively easily, her attitude towards exercise changed.
She said, “When I went back to the gym, I just thought, ‘I don’t want to be here.’
“Life is too short and I just wanted to be outside and make every day count.”
Julie traded the gym for long walks in the countryside and realized she wanted more – and started experimenting.
She said, “I wanted something to keep my upper body strong and toned.
“I tried to use weights, but at the end of the walk I would look like an orangutan because my arms would be so tired from carrying the weights.
“I dug in the garage and found some rubber resistance tubes and an old wetsuit, and started attaching them to my shoes so I could hold them and cause tension.
‘I went through about 30 different designs over the year until I found the final product.’
Impressed by her creation, which is designed to tone and strengthen the body when combining resistance with movement, Julie launched her versatile walking resistance bands called Instepp in March 2018.
She said, “I was so excited to have created something that was so good — you can walk or move with the bands at any time, in any place, whoever you are.
“I’ve used them by the sea in Croatia, or on the edge of a cliff in Cornwall, or by a swimming pool in Mexico.”
Julie said her running resistance bands have kept her in top shape.
“They often say that when you turn 50 you become invisible, but I make sure I’m not,” she said.
My friends jokingly tell me they hate me and ask, ‘Why do you look so good?’
“I don’t know if I’ve just been blessed with healthy aging or if it’s because of being positive, but I think when you feel good, you look good.”
With Julie’s 70th approaching in February 2023, she’s making plans to celebrate in style.
She says, “It’s weird to think I’m turning 70 because I don’t feel it at all.”
In addition to being nominated as a personal trainer for retirees by Inspired Villages, the later operator and developer of UK residential communities, Julie is also looking forward to training the next generation of her family after becoming a grandmother for the first time .
The mega-active grandma said, “My granddaughter, Freyja, is only 13 months at the moment, so she’s not quite around yet.
“But I can’t wait until I can take her on a bike and she can walk or cycle with me.”
Visit instepp.co.uk For more information.
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