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'I'm a super lucky, healthy person': 80-year-old Toronto fitness trainer has no plans to slow down

To call Dee Simpson an active senior would be an understatement.

"I am very proud to say that four days ago I turned 80 years young," Simpson told CTV News Toronto with a smile.

Years after most people retire, Simpson is still working hard and working out and she's helping others to do the same as a fitness trainer.

It’s actually Simpson's fourth career. She started as a medical illustrator in college with dreams of being a doctor, and spent decades working in the film industry as a documentary filmmaker.

Asked why she didn't consider retiring at 65, Simpson replied, "Very good question, I didn't want to. I didn't feel ready to. And I felt really strongly that I had another career in me."

Up until then, Simpson admits she'd never set foot in a gym. But that's the age she decided to get certified, though the Canadian Fitness Professionals program.

"There were 18 of us," Simpson recalled. "Everybody was below 33, and at the beginning each one of us had to tell why we were there. And I was one of the last ones, and I felt very intimidated and it came to me and I said 'well, I'm obviously the old girl in the group but I'm going to try my damnedest to keep up with you…and if I'm lucky I think I will'".

After finishing her certification, Simpson says she went to 42 different gyms looking for a job. She only heard back from two of them.

"She's my only 80-year-old trainer," admitted Erin Billowits, the CEO of Vintage Fitness, "and she's incredible!"

For the past 13 years, Simpson has helped train seniors across the GTA working for Vintage Fitness. She is one of 18 employees with the company, which trains people in their own homes or online, rather than in a gym.

Dee Simpson is seen in this undated image. (Vintage Fitness)

"She has this energy about her," said Billowits. "She exudes this energy and passion for life that's contagious, so you're around her and you just feel like it lifts up your mood."

Simpson is the oldest trainer at Vintage Fitness, in fact, she's older than any of her current clients -- something she sees as an advantage.

"If they do think about me as older than they are, then I think in a sort of way they might take it as a helpful motivation tool. ‘If Dee can do it at her age and I'm five years younger, maybe I can do it too.’"

Billowits believes that Simpson is an example of how seniors can, and should, stay active in their golden years.

"It's absolutely paramount for them to be able to do the things that they love in their life,’ Billowits said.

Last summer, Simpson cycled more than 700km from Belgium to France. She says she still enjoys whitewater canoeing, snowshoeing, and hiking. And she says she enjoys helping others reach their fitness goals.

"Helping people and being active has always been absolutely core in my life. And I've always had dreams that I want to keep on going, and keep on going, and if I don't keep active I won't be able to do what I did last year. I want to be able to do that when I'm 85, and if I don't keep active I won't be able to do that."

Now, as an octogenarian, Simpson says she has no plans to slow down.

"I realize I am super, super lucky. I have never been sick really. I have never had any bad diseases. I haven't got arthritis. I'm a super lucky, healthy person," she said.

And she says she plans to keep pushing other seniors, both older and younger than she is, to stay active.

"Lets keep active together so we can live and fulfill our dreams maybe in to our 90s. That would be the most wonderful thing to do." Top Stories

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