He's 93, and there's no stopping him - meet the oldest gym junkie in South Tyneside

He’s lived through the Great Depression, the Second World War and a heart attack.

By James Harrison
Sunday, 27th October 2019, 7:00 am
Updated Monday, 28th October 2019, 5:04 pm
John Miller (front, blue and red hoop top) with others from South Tyneside Council\'s Healthy Lives circuits class
John Miller (front, blue and red hoop top) with others from South Tyneside Council\'s Healthy Lives circuits class

But at 93-years-old John Miller shows no sign of stopping yet and continues to be a regular at exercise classes in South Tyneside.

The former engineer is thought to be one of the oldest to attend the Healthy Lives programme run by South Tyneside Council, which he credits with keeping him active into his ninth decade.

“[I started going to the classes] when I had a heart attack about 15 years ago, I was in hospital and I got over it alright, but that’s what started me off going to the gym,” he said after his latest session.

“It was called exercise on prescription in those days and I’ve been going ever since, I haven’t had any more heart attacks, but it’s getting old, it’s like a car.

“Going [to the classes] I get to meet friends and do exercises, it’s not stressful, you’re not running miles, it’s just general exercise.

“The advantage of the classes is getting out of the house, meeting people and doing exercise and if you feel a bit puffed you sit a bit and you can just rest.

“I think all older people should go and attend those classes – it’s better than just sitting in the house watching television.”

Born in 1926, Mr Miller, who turned 93 this week, went to the old Jarrow Central School and later started an apprenticeship aged 16 with engineering firm A. Reyrolle and Company.

He also worked for Merz and McLellan, an engineering consultancy, and lectured at the Marine School, in South Shields.

During his time as a Reyrolle apprentice he became ‘very fit’ cycling between his home in Jarrow and the company’s Hebburn base, including returning home for lunch every day.

But he also admits his health is less good now, relying on several tablets a day and an inhaler.

The Healthy Lives scheme runs several sessions throughout South Tyneside every week, including badminton in Hebburn and circuits training in Hebburn, Jarrow and South Shields.

Councillor Tracey Dixon, cabinet member for Independence and Wellbeing at South Tyneside Council, said: “Becoming more active can have a number of health benefits, including helping to manage any long term conditions, manage your weight and improve your mood.

“Our Healthy Lives classes aim to keep the community active for longer.

“The classes are entry level and target over 50s or those with long-term conditions who are looking for a gentle workout in a fun and enjoyable environment.

“The classes are delivered by fully qualified and experienced instructors.

“John is the perfect example of how it’s never too late to get active or remain fit and he’s just one of 250 people a week who attend these classes.”