Move it or Lose it! was founded in 2010 by award-winning exercise instructor, Julie Robinson. Julie has dedicated her career to motivating thousands of people to keep active in later life. Her company has now grown nationally with network of instructors delivering exercise classes to thousands of older people every week. Julie talks to The Age of No Retirement about her inspirational story.

When I set up my company, Move it or Lose it, aged 50, I could never have anticipated where it would lead. Eight years on, this has turned from a rewarding job to a full-on mission to train retirees to become exercise instructors for older people and change the way we age.

Disenchanted by my job as a teacher, I was looking for a change. With ageing parents I wanted to do something that allowed me more time and flexibility, which was sociable and rewarding so I retrained to teach exercise to older people and set up my own community classes. Within months I was overwhelmed by the demand and the reward; every week class members would tell me how their lives had changed, that they felt better and happier, that they had got the vitality back into their lives. I loved my job!

Originally the idea came when everyone kept asking me how they could remember what exercises to do at home. After a series of failed attempts with stick-man drawings, I jumped in at the deep end and made an exercise DVD which my class members starred in and named Move it or Lose it – they were keen it didn’t mention the word exercise in the title.

Brenda starred in the DVD and her story appeared in Yours magazine about how she had overcome the pain of arthritis and got her life back after exercising, which led to a surge in DVD sales and so my journey as an entrepreneur began.

Following a meeting with Professor Janet Lord, Director of The Centre for Musculoskeletal Ageing Research at University of Birmingham, I became a collaborating partner with the Centre and went on to produce 4 further DVDs and a book to help people exercise every day at home.

So many class members talked about how they felt less lonely and how the classes had led on to them making friends or getting out and about again. I wanted to take the magic of Move it or Lose it out to reach thousands more people so they could enjoy socialising and exercising together and the only way to do this was to train instructors to run classes in their community.

"Every week class members would tell me how their lives had changed, that they felt better and happier, that they had got the vitality back into their lives."

Julie Robinson

Move it or Lose it helps to Transform Ageing in the South West

By combining the recommendations of the Chief Medical Officers of the UK with evidence- based research and grass roots experience, I developed a unique training programme called FABS - flexibility, aerobics, balance and strength in one fun-filled class which can be done seated or standing.

After gaining endorsement and insurance, the quest was to find the right people to join the team, those who shared my passion to transform ageing. Over the last two and a half years we’ve trained 600 people including many with no fitness qualifications or experience. More than half of our team are over 50 and many have become instructors after retirement. Now we are on a quest to find more retirees with the empathy, patience and humour to motivate older people to join community classes and enjoy more active, healthier, happier lives.

UK Active’s recent report, Reimagining Ageing, highlighted Move it or Lose it instructor Sian as a great example of how mobilising an army of mature fitness instructors benefits older people, revitalises communities and reduces financial pressures on the health care system.

Sian, a 63-year-old breast cancer survivor in the West Midlands, retired from her job in admin but didn’t want to stay at home and do nothing. Picking up a flyer at the lymphoedema clinic she made a decision to do our training and hasn’t looked back since. 

Now running 10 classes a week and taking her 95 year old father to every class, she feels fitter and happier than ever saying, “I love my job, it keeps me fit, it’s fun and it’s so rewarding - I just wish I’d done it earlier.”

If you want to help us to transform ageing, ask for our free information pack: https://www.moveitorloseit.co.uk/become-an-instructor/

"So many class members talked about how they felt less lonely and how the classes had led on to them making friends or getting out and about again."

Julie Robinson