Bobbie (97) is an inspiration

97 years old Bobbie Bell who is training at Lifestyle Fitness. (2110PG87)
97 years old Bobbie Bell who is training at Lifestyle Fitness. (2110PG87)

Ninety seven year-old Bobbie Bell is inspiring Derry’s older citizens to embark on new fitness regimes.

After featuring in last Tuesday’s edition of the ‘Derry Journal’, Bobbie’s story of getting back into the gym just weeks short of his 98th birthday has caught the imaginations of many in Derry and beyond.

The Waterside nonagenarian attends Lifestyle Fitness at Templemore Sports Complex twice each week, having signed up to a Derry City Council health drive.

And in the past seven days the GP Referral Programme, run by Derry City Council’s Sports Development Department, has been inundated with inquiries about how to sign up for membership.

Former Derry City footballer Sean Hargan, who works as an exercise specialist on the free programme said the publicity surrounding Mr Bell had caused a surge of interest.

“The phone hasn’t stopped ringing with people enquiring about how they can register for the programme - Bobbie’s story has generated a lot of interest from people of all ages. He’s an inspiration. The recent publicity has really got people interested in the programme,” he added.

Speaking to the ‘Journal’, Bobbie, a member of the Golfing Union of Ireland, said he was enjoying every minute of his new fitness regime. “I feel all the better for it,” he said.

It all started Mr Hargan received a call from Bobbie’s GP after the nonagenarian asked his doctor what he could do to improve his mobility, particularly for getting in and out of chairs.

“She said Bobbie had wanted to buy a bike and get on the road but said that would be a very bad idea, although his general health was good. I asked why he didn’t just go to a private gym but his doctor said she couldn’t allow that because he needed to be supervised.

“I asked why, if his general health was good and it was then she told me he was 97. I couldn’t believe it. That stopped me in my tracks. I certainly haven’t come across someone of his age that is so mobile.”

The GP Referral Fitness Programmes are based at council leisure centres and involve working with exercise specialists to tailor effective and enjoyable physical activity programmes. The programme is free of charge. For further details contact Sean Hargan or John Paul Glenn on 028 71 361566.