margot and andreaMargot O’Halloran never thought that, at the age of 67, she would be literally climbing mountains and conquering 100km bushwalks.

But in just 18 months she has transformed herself physically and emotionally. And now Margot is keen to share her story so that others her age can gain the confidence they need to make positive changes in their own lives. As she says “You only get one crack – make the most of what you’ve got while you’ve got it.”

A short time ago Margot experienced a stressful period in her life which made her realise she was at the point of “sink or swim”. She felt isolated and anxious, but a move into town made the option of joining a gym more viable.

“I decided I had to get myself together and take the big step of not only becoming more healthy, but re-connecting with the outside world”

Margot says that overcoming the feeling of being new took some courage but the benefits have been great. Less than two years later, she has lost 20 kgs and she now enjoys aqua classes, group fitness and gym sessions around five times a week.

She believes the enormous physical benefits are outweighed by the improvement to her emotional health. “Not only do I feel stronger and have more energy – I feel younger, vibrant and confident.”

Margot’s renewed confidence has enabled her to take up bushwalking and recently she completed the Larapinta Trail – a strenuous 100km bushwalk over nine days which was the ultimate test in endurance and determination. Margot was one of only three people in the group who completed the whole challenge.

“Never before have I felt so alive and healthy. Plus, through becoming more active, I have made amazing new friends, which further adds to my wellbeing.”

Margot has formed “wonderful friendships” with other members at Wangaratta Indoor Sports and Aquatic Centre, an environment that she says is always welcoming and supportive. Fitness instructor Andrea Kennedy believes this sense of camaraderie is strong, especially amongst the older adults, and can itself spark improvements in health. “There’s nothing like a friendly smile or a good laugh to make your day – I think that’s as important as the physical exercise.”