Fitness:Proving age is but a number Carol Norris became a record-holding athlete at 61

Meet Carol Norris, who only began training in fitness at the age of 57 and has become a record-holding athlete at 61. The Cambridge-based Fitness Pilates and Hyrox coach shares her inspiring story

Pictures by Sportograf

My fitness story

I trained in the fitness industry at the start of Covid at the age of 57 after having a career in agriculture so I was quite late to the party!

The main two areas that I work in are teaching Fitness Pilates in the villages north of Cambridge (Longstanton, Bar Hill, Swavesey and Willingham) and coaching Hyrox and DEKA (hybrid fitness racing) sessions at Neil Marsh Health and Fitness in Willingham. Hybrid fitness racing combines both cardio and strength components in one race. I am training for the Hyrox World Championships in Nice in June as I have won my age category three times (60-64). I am also currently at the top of the DEKA global age group leaderboard for the DEKA Mile, so I can use this knowledge to help other people improve their races.

Giving it her all
Giving it her all

Why I love my job

I love showing people that getting older does not mean that you need to stop moving! In fact, it can mean that you are fitter than ever if you are willing to work at it. I am 61 and I became an athlete for the first time in my life at the age of 60. Lots of over 60s are out there achieving incredible things! Older women going through peri-menopause and menopause can relate to me as I understand what they are going through.

People often come to me wanting to try Pilates having not done exercise for a long time. Once they start to do it regularly, it’s very rewarding when they tell me that they are able to move more freely, feel stronger and healthier and that their quality of life has improved. I really enjoy coaching our Hyrox athletes at Neil Marsh Health and Fitness too, as it’s so cool to see the improvements they are making from race to race.

My go-to quick workout

If it has to be quick, I’ll go into my studio and lift some weights. My training is about strength and endurance so most of the workouts I do are high intensity and for an hour or sometimes longer.

An inspiration
An inspiration

My favourite feel-good long workout

I have to incorporate running into my training and my favourite session is our Wednesday social run where I run for over an hour at a chatty pace with friends. We call ourselves ‘The Legends’ and we chat about anything and everything.

The energy-boosting snack I swear by

I rarely go without a big bowl of porridge with fruit and honey in the mornings. Nothing else gives me enough energy to sustain the volume of exercise that I do.

My indulgent treat food

I don’t have any one indulgent treat food. The amount of training I do allows me to eat pretty much what I like. In this last year I’ve tried to increase my protein intake and eat healthily but I still have cakes, chocolate and crisps.

Carol is at the peak of physical fitness
Carol is at the peak of physical fitness

How I kick back and relax

This is something that I find really difficult! I struggle to sit down for long. Pilates has really helped me with this as I am still moving but I find that I’m really relaxed at the end of a session. Lots of people have said the same, that they feel more tired before starting a Pilates class than they do afterwards! I recently went to PAUS in Cambridge with my colleagues from the gym and they said that they’d never seen me so relaxed.

My top tip for anyone who needs motivating to start exercising

Take action! If you’ve been thinking about starting to exercise, stop thinking about it and start doing something. It could be just a walk, or joining a local class, riding a bike, any movement is a start. I promise you, if you keep doing some form of exercise regularly you will feel better. Try not to make it just about weight loss, think of the long-term benefits; better bone health, better movement, stronger muscles, improved mental health, the list is endless. It may help to set yourself a goal such as entering a charity walk or run, or doing Couch to 5k. That way you are more likely to stick to it. I guarantee you will always feel better when you’ve done it!

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