Human whirlwind Janet Alexander, 66, puts it this way: There are junior seniors, senior seniors and elderly seniors.
“It’s state of mind,” the leading fitness instructor tells me between her staggering spate of community activities.
“An elderly person can be a ‘junior senior’ and a 50-year-old can be an ‘elderly senior’.
“It’s not your age; but if you are just living in your own backyard and don’t do anything and don’t want to do anything, you are living as an elderly senior,” says the Canadian-born straight-shooter.
Mum-of-one Janet, who landed in Australia after setting out from Toronto in 1979 to see the world, leads community fitness groups in Swan, Joondalup and Bullsbrook.
“Not only is this about physical exercise and staying active, it’s also about companionship, encouragement and helping to motivate others in a supportive environment,” Janet declares on a city’s website.
“It has been greatly missed by everyone (during the pandemic) and we are looking forward to getting their bodies moving again,” she said.
With some of her regulars just about climbing walls, Janet really was climbing a wall at Burswood, joining in activities to promote fitness and being active at Have a Go Day.
Janet is a strong supporter of community activity events for seniors, driving for hours on every mission, sometimes flanked by golden Labrador, Flint.
“When people in my Be Active Together lessons see Flint they always ask: ‘Can you bring Flint next time?’. Of course there’s a limit to what activities I can take him to, but he’s a very good traveller,” she said.
With a house in Bullsbrook and a small rural property in Muchea, Janet doesn’t begrudge the many laps between home and the three communities where she either works or volunteers.
“We get the music going and it rocks,” she says of her fitness classes.
She includes respiratory exercises, yoga, limber-cardio and resistance segments. Some regulars bring their own weights.
After Janet married Aussie Nevil Alexander, a now-retired university lecturer, she worked a range of jobs in business and hospitality including restaurant and bar work, promotions for the WA Trotting Association, winery marketing and 20 years in furniture design.
“I was 57 before I became a fitness instructor,” she exclaims.
In between came daughter, Victoria, 33, who has kept her love of horses and likes to get to their Muchea property where her father lives.
The Alexanders were devastated when a 2017 fire razed their home and everything in it.
“It was the worst tragedy. People coming to my fitness lessons would bring me plates and utensils and shampoo for Nevil’s hair. Oh, the kindness of people,” Janet said.
“What we do is more than exercise. Amazing things come from it. It’s not just a lesson. There’s support and networking and mixing and talking over tea and coffee afterwards,
“With women there are two main things – bat wings under the arms and their hips. With men it’s entirely different. But everyone wants an instant fix.
“I tell people ‘don’t get hung up on how you look.’ I might read the riot act to them. I’m firm but fair,” she says convincingly.