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Are You Fitter Than a Pensioner? How the show changed Louise's life

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Dana Stevens | 15:06 UK time, Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Do you reckon you'll be doing press ups at the age of 80? I think I'd struggle to do more than a few even now, so I've got not nothing but respect for the elderly stars of the new series Are You Fitter Than a Pensioner? The show features a spritely group of super-fit pensioners who live in the healthy Sun City retirement communities in America. They spend their days pumping iron in the gym, going for a morning run and swimming lengths in the outdoor pool. And the programme challenges a group of unhealthy Brits to compete against them in a fitness contest. Will the youngsters be able to give up their lazy lifestyles of booze, fags and telly to beat the golden oldies?

Are You Fitter Than a Pensioner?

Young Brits Ali Yildirim, Frazer Danbury, Judy Lockhart and Louise Crossland on race day in Arizona

Thursday's episode features 18 year old Louise Crossland who finds the fitness regime in Arizona particularly challenging as she's struggling with her self-confidence and weight. Although she found the pensioner's regime tough, it also had a big impact on her attitude to her own life and health. So I caught up with Louise to find out whether taking part in the show made a lasting impression on her.

Louise, how did you first hear about the programme?
I was browsing the BBC Three website looking for a new series of Family Guy, when I stumbled across the Be on a Show section. I looked through the programmes and read about Are You Fitter Than a Pensioner? and thought 'oooh I'll give that a go'.

Did you know what was involved when you signed up?
Not at all, it just asked if I was looking for a lifestyle challenge with super-fit people from a different country.

What did you first think when you arrived in Sun City?
I thought it was all very surreal, it sort of reminded me of the Desperate Housewives set; all pretty houses, everything looked perfect, but there were no young people anywhere! Ha ha ha!

Are You Fitter Than a Pensioner? (Judy Lockhart, Louise Crossland, Norb and Mari Matelski)

Young Brits Judy Lockhart and Louise Crossland with their American hosts 76 year old Norb Matelski and his 60 year old wife Mari.

You seemed to really get on with Norb and Mari, the couple that you stayed with. Were you worried about staying with an old couple that you didn't know?
Yeah I did get on with Norb and Mari, they were really lovely people. I didn't expect to have such a good relationship with two complete strangers. I felt quite homesick at first but built a good relationship with them. I was worried about staying with them as I had never met them before and didn't know anything about their daily routine or anything. It was all very surreal and weird but, I must admit, I enjoyed it after the initial shock of it all.

Are You Fitter Than a Pensioner? (Judy Lockhart and Louise Crossland)

All four of you were struggling physically against the super-fit old people - what was the hardest thing to deal with on a physical level?
It was probably going to the gym. I felt out of place, unhealthy and like I shouldn't be there. The other three seemed to get on with it and didn't find it hard. But mentally I found it difficult as I have always been big and never actually been to a gym. It was when Norb asked me to go on some weird machine I'd never seen before in my life that I started to doubt my physical ability. Judy could do it no problem but when it was my turn I gave up. I got really upset and went to the toilet and cried, I felt awful and never felt like that before in my life. That was the moment I realised I needed to change, physically and mentally.

Louise Crossland

A healthier, happier Louise Crossland

You seemed to be genuinely inspired to change your lifestyle by the end of the programme, have you?
Yes I have, I don't eat as much junk food anymore, I eat more fresh food now and I have taught myself to try new things and not be scared. I don't drink as much anymore, maybe once a month instead of 3-4 times a week. I've dropped a couple of dress sizes as well, so my confidence is high high high. I love who I am now and enjoy it every way I can.

What's the most important thing you'll take away from filming the show?
Don't worry about being different, you can exercise no matter what size you are. And people shouldn't judge you on your appearance.

You can see Louise Crossland in Are You Fitter Than a Pensioner? at 8pm on Thursday. Dana Stevens is Content Producer for BBC Three online.

Add your comment.


  • Comment number 1.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 2.

    Just watched are you fitter than a pensioner. Louise Crossland came across as a lovely girl and I was so please to find out that she had taken on board all the advice about healthy eating and keeping fit. The photo of her after dropping two dress sizes is stunning I did think she was a very good looking girl in the program. Well done to her hope she keeps it up. It would be great to see a follow up program about the youngsters.

  • Comment number 3.

    i have never registered for anything like this before but i so enjoyed this programme. Louise i have to say what a stunning person you appeared both physically and in personality. I am so glad that your confidence is souring now...may this new found confidence stay with you, you deserve it as do you all for your truly open minded approach to this adventure well done

  • Comment number 4.

    wow you look like you lost alot of weight

  • Comment number 5.

    I just have to say Louise looks amazing. She was already beautiful but now she looks stunning. Good Job on loosing all that weight. You look fabulous!!!

  • Comment number 6.

    You don't have to go to the USA to find fit pensioners!! I run 2-3 times a week, boot camp twice a week and do pilates once a week; and I am not alone! At 64 I'm fitter than I've ever been.


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