Wednesday, 2 November 2016

The Frances Five: secrets to a long happy life

If youve ever been to The Forks on a Tuesday or Thursday morning its hard not to notice a happy, friendly group of seniors milling about. They meet twice a week for their I AM Fitness class, a free exercise class that caters to those 55 and up, encouraging strength, mobility and flexibility. 

I recently joined them for a class and met Frances, who at age 90 is living life to its fullest. After class, over a cup of tea in The Forks Market, she shared with me some secrets to her long, happy, healthy life.

I call them the Frances Five, and Id love to share them with you:

1. She goes outside

Frances is outside all the time, nature makes her happy. Fresh air invigorates her, connecting her to the outside world. She cuts her own grass in the summer and shovels her own sidewalk in the winter. I asked her how she manages our cold winters, she smiled and said, You put on a warmer coat. Keep your eyes peeled for Frances this winter on the Red River Mutual Trail, shes a trail regular!

2. She spends active time with friends and family

Shes our inspiration! her classmates proudly announce. Smiling and greeting each other, its clear there are relationships beyond exercise. After class, they routinely have coffee, celebrating birthdays and life milestones together. It motivates Frances when people expect to see her every week. Its a nice way to spend time with people., some of her best memories were winters she spent skiing with her grandsons, she tells me.

3. She doesnt eat fried food often

When I asked Frances about what she eats, she simply stated, Well, I try not to eat fried foods. She cooks most of her own meals and often enjoys a glass of red wine with dinner. Winter breakfasts are oatmeal with flax, snacks are fruit or almonds. Currently her favourite sandwich is toasted tomato made with her own garden tomatoes.

4. She says yes

She is always up for anything. It takes bravery to step out of your comfort zone, and Frances is a living example of that. Do a plank? Sure, why not. Frances says that as long as she can move her body, she can participate in life. The I AM Fitness classes maintain her mobility and strength to give her the energy to go out in the world to dance, skate, play badminton and enjoy the theatre and symphony.

5. She walks and bikes everywhere

Her first choice to get anywhere is always to use her own body. In summer months, Frances rides her bike to The Forks for classes. If you spot her in her own neighbourhood, shes always out walking. She recently had a few errands downtown, she told me she left her car parked downtown for the day and walked everywhere she needed to go. Why drive everywhere? she says. “Its more fun to get out and see the world.

Oh Frances, you have my heart. I want to grow up and be just like you.

I AM Fitness classes are every Tuesday and Thursday from 9:30 am – 10:30 am, and 10:30 am – 11:30 am. In warmer months they meet outside under the Forks canopy and in cooler months they meet inside the bright beautiful Royal Dance studio in The Forks Market. Classes are first come, first serve. Sign up sheets are posted outside the class to reserve your spot. They dont check IDs.

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Lindsay Somers is an urban lifestyle health coach. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram. All photos by Luckygirl Photography. Special thanks to Raul, Connie and Frances for sharing their stories.