Exercise to make you smile

Meet Jan Marchangelo - the Ealing resident who is banishing bad memories of school PE classes

Looking at and listening to Jan Marchangelo, you have to pinch yourself quite hard to believe that this picture of health and happiness has already had one hip replacement - and is waiting to have another.

Not that Jan is letting arthritis win. The 69 year old, who lives in the borough, teaches Slimnastics to older members of the community for Active Ealing (the council’s sports and leisure service) and shows no sign of slowing down.

“I love teaching Slimnastics [an exercise class combining the best parts of dancing, aerobics and gymnastics] just as much now, as I did when I started teaching the classes over 40 years ago,” she told the Ealing Gazette.

Jan clearly enjoys her classes at the Ealing Liberal Synagogue in Lynton Avenue, West Ealing - as do the devoted attendees.

“The Slimnastic classes are fantastic fun and helping save the NHS money, but it’s Jan who makes the classes so memorable,” reveals 80-year old Mary Stratton. “She is like a ray of sunshine.”

It’s an opinion that pensioner, Rae Thorpe Hall - who has been going to Jan’s Slimnastic classes for the past 30 years - is quick to endorse. “Jan really is the most wonderful, sympathetic teacher. She treats everyone as an individual and is always ready with words of encouragement and advice for people dealing with a wide range of issues from illness and injury to suffering.”

Together Mary and Rae have nominated Jan for the ‘Community Champion’ category of our Pride Awards. It’s a fitting recognition for the way in which Jan devotes so much of her life to Slimnastics - helping the over 50s to feel fitter, healthier and more comfortable in their own skins (a huge and hugely tricky job).

“I’m absolutely delighted with my nomination,” beams Jan. “I’m very flattered - it’s lovely to be acknowledged by the community.”

It’s clear that Jan has a strong bond with the community. “We’ve grown grey together” she laughs. “We’re friends as much as anything and I’m still in touch with those who, for one reason or another, are no longer able to come to my classes.”

As for Jan, her own energy seems boundless - something her savage levels of workaholism bears testimony too. A typical week sees Jan teach one class on Monday, three on Tuesday, two on Wednesday, and one apiece on Thursday and Friday. Phew! Just reading the list of classes is exhaustive yet alone teaching them...

The 69 year old’s schedule would kill a lesser woman, but Jan remains as eager as a kid on Christmas Day when it comes to teaching Slimnastics to the community. “My aim is always to create an atmosphere where sessions are safe, fun and people can challenge themselves. I am so proud of all of my students.”

It’s fair to say they’ve struck gold with Jan, too.