Deeping fitness teacher going strong 50 years on

Cynthia Buckman (87) with her keep fit club at Werrington community centre. EMN-141125-174936009

Cynthia Buckman (87) with her keep fit club at Werrington community centre. EMN-141125-174936009

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A music-loving fitness teacher aged 87 from Deeping St James has taken to heart a new health campaign for people to stay active for longer.

Keep Fit teacher Cynthia Buckman who helps people get fit through the power of song is continuing to inspire a group of women - 50 years after she started.

And she is an ideal standard bearer for the NHS’s new Everybody Active, Every Day campaign, which encourages people to stay healthy through an active lifestyle.

Health chiefs say physical inactivity is the fourth largest cause of disease in the UK and costs around £7.4 billion each year.

Exercising for 30 minutes a day or more can help to prevent or manage over 20 different common health conditions.

Cynthia’s healthy journey began soon after she had had her third child when husband John suggested she find a hobby.

She said: “Because I was always dance mad and music mad, I just joined this ladies’ guild and there was a girl who was running a keep fit class. That suited me quite well.”

When the instructor decided to move abroad, Cynthia, from Park Road, Deeping St James, Peterborough decided the time was right for her to progress from student to teacher.

“I said find me a pianist and I will have a go.”

Cynthia, armed with a book from legendary dance instructor Eileen Fowler, did more than just “have a go”, she became a keep fit expert.

Her classes are an hour and a quarter of continuous stretching, twisting and bending to music, with moves such as swinging the arms around and touching the hip or back.

She started running seven classes a week, covering Dogsthorpe, Werrington, The Deepings, Crowland and Bourne.

Despite having to slow down over time, Cynthia still keeps around 24 senior citizens fit in Deeping and Werrington, as well as organising social trips for the class members.

However, their fondness for her means calling time on being an instructor is all the more difficult.

“I always said I would retire at 80. I tried to pack up last year but the ladies said what would they do? They do not want to work for another teacher,” said Cynthia.

Cynthia’s enthusiasm for her classes remains undiminished even if she admits she does not know for how long she can continue.

“As soon as I get music on, I’m away. It’s the music and the movement that keep me going all the time. I’m always listening to music. If it’s kept me going all these years I have something to be thankful for.

“I still enjoy the classes. It just inspires me to keep moving. It keeps me fit. Whenever my family say ‘pack it up mother’ I say ‘what would I do?’

“I would just sit around more than I do now. It keeps you alive.

“It’s amazing how many friends you make. Everybody wants to come and do a bit of exercise and sing along to a bit of music.”

Cynthia is also president of the Peterborough and District Keep Fit Association who run social events and raise money for local charities.

On Saturday, the association surprised Cynthia with a sponge cake to mark her 50th anniversary as well as a bird bath and photo frame.

Cynthia regularly attends training events and has organised and performed in many demonstrations over the years, including the National Festival of Movement and Exercise and Dance at London’s Royal Albert Hall.

And even with back trouble, she is still able to get through her classes without difficulty with Abba CDs a particular favourite.

Cynthia’s daughter Sue Yardley maintains that her mother’s enthusiasm and dedication to her classes is as strong ever. I’m extremely proud of her. She does not make any money from this but she likes to think she’s helping people to keep fit.”