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Outstanding great grandmother to run her first half marathon

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An inspirational 72-year-old great grandmother is about to take on the challenge of running her first Cheltenham Half Marathon after losing more than four stone and undertaking the necessary training with the help of the fitness team at Leisure At Cheltenham.

May Willavoys, who lives in Leckhampton and has 17 grandchildren and four great grandchildren, decided she wanted to get fit and healthy so she challenged herself to run a half marathon. Working with the team at Leisure At gym she was encouraged and supported with a personal fitness routine that has helped her to become stronger and improve her overall fitness. May was a palliative carer in the community before retiring. She joined a slimming club and began swimming and working out in The Cheltenham Trust’s Leisure At Cheltenham gym. She has lost 4.5 stones and is doing her final preparation to run the Cheltenham Half Marathon on 29 September.

She said: “I do a lot of aqua aerobics and I go to a paracise class. I work out in the gym and this has helped tone me up, strengthen my muscles and lose weight.

“The half marathon is a challenge. It’s hard work but the support I get from the gym instructors is fantastic and nothing is too much trouble.”

May is now keen to encourage other mature people to follow her lead and improve their health and fitness.

She said: “I have a fear of water but I use the pool and it’s helped me to overcome a lot of things. I would recommend this to anyone. I’ve still a lot to achieve but with help I will get there. If anyone wants to come to the gym but is nervous, or needs someone to go with, I would be here for you.”

Fitness coordinator at Leisure At Faiz Bankole said: “We are all so proud of what May has already achieved and will be rooting for her in the half marathon next week. She’s worked so hard and is a shining example of the benefits that getting active can have on your life and general health and wellbeing.

“We provide a fantastic range of activities from fitness classes, yoga and spin to aqua aerobics and the gym. Our instructors work with individual members to ensure they go at their pace. We would encourage anyone thinking about getting more active not to worry, particularly if they haven’t exercised for some time. Supporting people to be active is at the heart of what we offer and we welcome people who don’t usually exercise to try something new and to make a change to their lifestyle through physical activity. That’s what May did and now look at her, at 72 she’s about to run her first half marathon. Everyone at Leisure At wishes her good luck.”

More information about Leisure at Cheltenham and the range of facilities and services is available at

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