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Rosemary Conley CBE in her pink costume for ITV's Dancing on Ice programme in 2012

My age has never been a secret after I appeared on Dancing on Ice 10 years ago when I was 65. Hosts Philip Schofield and Christine Bleakly seemed to want to mention it every time I stepped onto the ice during the six weeks that I lasted on the Show. This Sunday I clock up my three-quarters-of-a-century and I’m quite thrilled about it. Here’s why.

It was only relatively recently that I found out that apparently my lungs had not properly developed by the time I started school. This had caused my parents a great deal of worry as I had developed severe asthma from when I was two. It must have been a real shock when they were told that I was unlikely to reach my 10th birthday. At the age of eight, I spent three months in hospital. On my school report for PE when I was nine my teacher wrote: ‘Interested but physical disability impedes her’.

Thankfully, I managed to survive past my 10th birthday and I chose a career in fitness which not only changed my life but undoubtedly saved it. My Asthma Specialist even said recently that if I hadn’t followed the career path that I had, my life story would be very different. So, all things considered, you can understand why I am excited to be reaching my 75th birthday.

If we cast our memory back 50 years, anyone in their 70s was considered ‘really old’. I remember going to a Health Spa in my 20s and was shocked and really impressed that the yoga teacher was 70! Thankfully, today we know that being in our 70s isn’t old anymore.  Mary and I continue to run our classes and are determined to stay active for as long as we can put one foot in front of the other! I joke with my own classes that when and if we get into our 90s we will do Zimmerobics! Both Mary and I have several octogenarians attending our classes and long may they continue.

Physical activity is a lifesaver and the best health tonic you can give yourself. If you want to live a long, active and healthy life then the golden key is to keep exercising. Let’s hope that in 2022 we can make some resolutions that will keep us youthful, fit, and happy. I see every year as a fabulous 'bonus of opportunity'. Let’s not waste it.

Recipe of the Week

Christmas Pudding Meringue Soufflés (v)

Christmas Pudding Meringue Soufflés are easy to make, light and a dramatic version of the traditional celebratory pudding. But let's start with the basics:

How to make Meringues

Home-made Meringues are easier to make than you think, and whilst sugar gives us what is called ‘empty calories’ because it offers no nutrients other than energy, meringue is made with egg whites which are high in protein and fat-free.

Meringue can be used in many different ways, as an individual treat filled with cream or Greek yoghurt or as a topping for a dessert.

  1. For each egg white you will need 2oz (56g) caster sugar. To make meringues use a minimum of two egg whites.
  2. Ensure the bowl and the whisk are totally grease-free otherwise the egg whites will not whisk up to maximum volume.
  3. Place the egg whites (make sure there is no broken yolk in them) in the clean bowl and whisk on high until it stands in peaks and is quite ‘solid’ and not moving if you tip up the bowl.
  4. Then add a good teaspoon of sugar into the whisked egg whites and whisk again for 30 seconds. Repeat this process, adding one teaspoon of sugar for each egg white you are using. Finally, stop whisking but carefully fold the remaining sugar into the egg whites with a metal spoon to avoid breaking down the air in the foamy egg whites.
  5. Place the meringue mixture into a piping bag into which a nozzle has been placed and pipe into individual rosettes (as seen in the video) or into a pavlova base, onto a non-stick silicone or parchment paper placed on a baking tray.
  6. Cook in a cool oven 140°C, 275°F or Gas Mark 1 for 2-3 hours until crisp to the touch on the outside. Keep checking their progress as individual ovens vary. You will not spoil them by opening the oven to check.
  7. Allow to cool and keep in an airtight container for up to two weeks.
  8. Watch the video for serving ideas.

Christmas Pudding Meringue Soufflés

Serves 2 (double up the recipe to serve four people)
Per serving 290 calories/0.3g fat
Prep time 20 minutes
Cook time 1-1½  hours
1 small eating apple, cored peeled and grated
56g (2oz) dried mixed fruit
28g (1oz) canned black cherries, pitted, or use glace cherries, halved.
¼ tsp ground mixed spice
Grated zest of half an orange
25 ml (¼ pint) fresh apple juice
2 tbsp Brandy
For the meringue:
1 egg white
56g (2oz) caster sugar

Always remember to whisk the egg whites in a scrupulously clean bowl to achieve the maximum volume.
  1. Preheat the oven to 150°C, 300°F or Gas Mark 2. Lightly grease two small ramekins and dust lightly with caster sugar.
  2. Place the fruit and other ingredients in a bowl, mix well, then divide between two ramekin dishes.
  3. Whisk the egg white on high until it stands in peaks and is quite firm. Add one teaspoon of sugar and whisk for 30 seconds. Remove the whisk and carefully fold in the remainder of the caster sugar with a metal spoon. Place the meringue mixture into a piping bag (or use a spoon) and pipe or spoon the meringue on the top of the mixed fruit mixture in the ramekins.
  4. Place the ramekins on a baking tray for 1 – 1½ hours, checking every 20 minutes to monitor their progress. Serve hot.
Note: If serving to children substitute the brandy for two teaspoons of runny honey.
For more recipes click here to visit the website

Fun, Facts & Fitness from Mary Morris MSc.

With Rosemary's inspiring story of the enormous value of exercise I am reminded of a time when I was a Course Director for the YMCA Training Centre and one of the courses was entitled 'Exercise for the Older Adult'.  Now, bear in mind that these courses were designed for the 50 plus age group, as in the 1980s the age of 50 was clearly considered to be 'old'.  So, if you reached Rosemary’s ripe old age of 75 you would be labelled 'the frail elderly'! How times have changed, thank goodness!

We thought, all those years ago, that the older adult was a very risky group to work with.  We taught students to be extremely cautious when working with such aged exercisers as the risk of injury was very high due to their frailty.  For example, much of the session would be performed sitting down on a chair making them unlikely to fall over and risking a hip fracture.  (In fact, one routine involved sitting in a circle and passing an orange around from hand-to-hand!). 

This meant, of course, that we sadly neglected the use of their 'Big Engines' (the legs) and as many of you know your 'big engines' are where I now focus much of my work, not only through this Newsletter but in every class I teach. However, it is important to note that the use of a chair as a tool for exercise does have HUGE benefits, particularly for those starting out on an exercise programme, or those with restricted mobility and we demonstrate many valuable workouts on the website. But if those legs can carry you around, then it is vital that we build up their strength and use them at every opportunity. 

So, a class in the 1980s for the older adult had a gentle and careful approach and a class in the 2020s is a very different animal.  It pushes the old boundaries and demonstrates just how fit you can become with an appropriate programme.  

For example:

  • One where the focus is on Strength of all the muscles in the body, but particularly the arms and legs.  The arms, so you are always able to push yourself up off the floor and the legs, so you can maintain your independence.  Plenty of walking and 'Sit to Stand' practise will do that for you.
  • Practising Balance on a weekly or even daily basis so that you can seriously reduce the risk of falling.
  • Being sure to get your heart pumping.  My cardio class involves a 30-minute section that reaches a state of breathlessness.  Rosemary's DVDs will do that for you!
  • Include some Jumping so that you can help to keep your bones strong.
  • And finally, finishing with a Stretch section as this guarantees a good range of movement in all the joints allowing you to pick things up from the floor and reach into those high cupboards without injuring yourself.

Many, many older people are SO much fitter now and long may it continue. This week we have received a wonderful letter from one of our subscribers who at the age of 72 is an awe-inspiring example of what a 72-year-old is physically capable of.  A lady who pays constant attention to her health and fitness in order to get the very best out of life – and loving it! 

This Week's Fitness Challenge

  1. The festive season is one of the busiest times of year but try to get out for your walk of at least 30 minutes every day.  Split into shorter sessions of 10 minutes if that fits better around your other commitments.
  2. Encourage the family to go out for walks if you are having a family get-together.
  3. Choose from 3 of the following every day. 
    (They only take one minute or less each – I've timed them!)
  • Go up and down stairs 5 times.  Up as quick as you are able but down with care, holding on!
  • Do 10 press-ups leaning against your kitchen worktop.
  • Jump on the spot for 20 jumps.
  • Stand on one leg for 30 seconds each leg.
  • Do 10 abdominal curls and 10 twisted abdominal curls.
  • Dance energetically to a full track of your favourite Christmas music.
    (alright, I admit  - that one is longer than 1 minute!)
Did you know...

In recent years, perhaps inspired by ITV's Dancing on Ice, ice skating has become an increasingly popular Christmas activity, with many towns and cities setting up temporary ice rinks for the festive season. But it's not a new idea...

Between 1600 and 1814, it was not uncommon for the River Thames to freeze over for up to two months at a time. With Britain locked in what is now known as the ‘Little Ice Age’ and the medieval London Bridge with its close-spaced piers slowing the flow, ice would get lodged between the piers and effectively dam up the river, meaning it was easier for it to freeze.

Londonders – as enterprising and resilient as ever – decided to make the most of it and set up the Thames Frost Fairs. In fact, between 1607 and 1814 there were a total of seven major fairs, as well as countless smaller ones. These Frost Fairs would have been quite a spectacle, full of hastily constructed shops, pubs, ice skating rinks… everything that you would expect to find in the crowded streets of London but on ice!

The last ever Thames Frost Fair in 1814

And Finally...

With only one week to go before Christmas my best advice to you is to make a list of everything you still need to do before the big day instead of thinking ‘I mustn’t forget…!’ and getting stressed. If we have a list we can ‘tick off’ as we achieve each task it gives us a real sense of satisfaction and it takes the anxiety out of such a busy, busy time! Have fun!

With love and best wishes,

Rosemary Conley CBE DL


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