Meet Debbie Quinn (61), the great lady of fitness

She is the 61-year-old fitness queen who is passionate about keeping people of all ages healthy through exercise.

super-fit grandmother Debbie Quinn from Belfast has become a champion of the fitness world through her diverse approaches to helping people stay active and mobile.

Originally from Shankill Road in Belfast and now living in Comber, Debbie has been a professional training coach for nearly four decades and has no idea how to slow down.

She still packs out gyms 15 times a week for classes and multiple private fitness sessions.

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Debbie is trained in many disciplines

With nearly four decades of experience, she is also a sought-after guest speaker on health among women’s and community groups in Northern Ireland.

She says: “I believe I have been given a gift. I like to help people. I have this passion to help people – whether that be someone with breathing problems, balance problems or helping them walk better. That is what makes my work so special to me.”

Debbie is trained in many disciplines and part of the magic of her approach is tailoring her classes to the abilities of her clients.

She teaches dance, zumba, step aerobics, pilates, as well as yin, hatha and chair yoga.

She is also a single mother to Bailie (24), Zak (20) and Jodie (34) — who live in Dubai with her husband Chris and their three children.

An avid dancer with a real sense of zest for life, Debbie staged a surprising flash mob of dancers to celebrate her daughter’s six-year marriage.

Despite turning 60 last year, she is still as committed as ever to her job and encourages all of us to live healthier lifestyles.

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Debbie has no plans to slow down

She says: “I dance Salsa every weekend and it makes me so happy; how can you not be happy when you dance the salsa?

“I can’t dance and worry about what’s happening at home. I believe that anything that is good for mental health is also good for physical health.”

Debbie ensures that her classes are accessible to everyone, including people with a disability or illness.

She also specializes in gentle aerobics/movements for seniors and recliner-based exercise classes, including balance and strength.

She says, “I love my job because I see the benefits so clearly that many people come to my active health classes for a variety of reasons.

“Some people may need help with their balance after a fall or just want to get out and make new friends.

“I have a girl on a Zimmer frame who is quite young and the oldest person I have chair aerobics in is 90. My oldest yoga client is 84.

“After class, the groups usually go for a cup of tea or lunch, so there’s a real buzz and a social aspect to it.”

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Debbie takes 15 classes a week

Growing up on Shankill Road, Debbie was overweight as a teenager which prompted her to look for a job at the then-new Shankill Leisure Center when it opened in 1980.

In her many years as a fitness trainer, she says breathing exercises can have the biggest impact on our health.

“I tell people that I help them remove the rust from their bones. If people only knew how breathing and mindfulness can change their lives, everyone in the world would do it.

“Most of us don’t get enough oxygen to the brain, when you breathe well, you live better and have more energy and feel better about yourself.

“Short, shallow breathing causes illness because it doesn’t get oxygen into the body properly.

“I believe we should all spend at least a few minutes a day breathing slowly into our stomach, lungs and throat. Just practicing these long, slow breaths in and out will make such a difference to your overall health.”

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Debbie takes classes for all ages and abilities in Newtownards in hopes of improving people’s mental health

Debbie is also a strong believer in good mental health and advises everyone to get up, get out and interact with others for their well-being.

And as for getting older, that seems to be an art to her.

She advises: “I think age is a mindset. I also think you should keep your mind busy.

“I’m constantly learning and taking new lessons and keeping busy because I feel the more I can learn, the more I can teach. Vitality is something I work on every day. I set small goals for myself every day and meditate for 20 minutes every morning to get my body ready for the day.

“I find that the more I give, the more I get and I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by nice people every day.

“My biggest tip for healthy aging is to exercise to keep the muscles flexible and find something you enjoy, there is so much to choose from. Walking groups, dance classes, yoga, tai chi, join a recreation center.

“A healthy mind is just as important. Talk about your worries and your fears, keep moving, have friends to go out with, eat healthy, join groups – U3A is a great group for anyone who is retired, they have so many outings.

“Another very important thing is to be thankful every day for what you have, write it down, say it out loud and be thankful every morning.”

Debbie’s classes are taught at Ards Yoga and Wellness centre, St Mary’s Primary in Comber, Blaire Maine Leisure Center and she also travels to give lectures and one-off classes as well as personal training. You can contact her at [email protected]

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