The 75-year old "King of Calisthenics" enjoying his reign

May 05, 2023 |

When Graham Parrington received a present for his 65th birthday – he never imagined how it would change his life for the better.

After retiring from his job as a lorry driver after 44 years, Graham’s wife Cynthia surprised him with a gym membership in a bid to improve his fitness after decades working inside a lorry cab. 10-years later, and now 75, Graham is a Health & Fitness coach at the National Water Sports Centre and is known as the King of Calisthenics.

He explained what motivated him to join the gym: “I managed to save up a great pension from my driving days and I wanted to do something productive with my time. I want to be around long enough to make sure I see every penny of that pension so that was a factor in getting motivated and getting fit.

“I tried a few different gyms in the area, but they felt impersonal. But when I came here, I felt at home straight away. They’ve got brilliant facilities; brilliant instructors and a real community feel.”

Graham had such a huge impact on the gym community at National Water Sports Centre that the team wanted to get him more involved. Graham explains: “They asked if I wouldn’t mind showing some newcomers into the gym – I enjoyed it and I felt like I was good at it.

“I was then asked if I was interested in running my own classes, which I was. But it meant I needed qualifications, so I was put through the course to become a Level 2 gym instructor.

“I started doing sick cover and when people were off but eventually the team asked me to create some new fitness concepts and that’s how my own Functional Core (ab-tastic) class started and I love it.”

If you come to the gym at National Water Sports Centre, you’ll often find Graham speaking with members and offering advice on the gym floor. He says helping people is a big factor in him donating his time. He said: “I spend so much time here because I know I need to keep fit and strong.

“But I also enjoy chatting to people and passing on any knowledge that I’ve gained through the years. I’ve learnt that if you’re consistent in how you train, whether that’s for strength or fitness, then you’re going to see results – and I think that’s a good message to pass on.”

Graham is proof that age is just a number and there is no cut-off point when it comes to improving your physical and mental health. But, despite turning 76 later this year – Graham has no plans of slowing down: “It’s never too late to begin working on yourself. I didn’t join here until I was 65 and I’m now in the best condition of my life.

“If I can do it then, I promise you, anybody can. It’s not about getting into fantastic shape or hitting personal bests every week but feeling better within yourself and getting healthier at the same time.

“I’ve absolutely zero interest in retiring or taking it easy so you’ll be seeing me around the place for a while yet!”

Join Graham in his Functional Core class every Wednesday at 10am and 5:30pm. Become a member of the gym at National Water Sports Centre and feel the benefit of an inclusive and positive community.