Gym celebration for Milton pensioner Eric Hand's 90th
SUPER fit pensioner Eric Hand celebrated his 90th birthday surrounded by friends and family at his favourite haunt – the gym.
Former dance teacher Eric, from Milton, is a well-known character at The M Club in Festival Heights where he works out alongside members less than a third of his age.
The retired tutor celebrated his 90th birthday at the gym on Sunday with more than 100 guests, a magician and a buffet.
He said: "Coming to the gym has become a hobby of mine. I especially enjoy the yoga classes, which I think should be made compulsory for everyone.
"I've made a lot of friends here and I think it has opened up my world.
"I'm a lot fitter than my friends of a similar age and I believe it's down to the fact that I'm still keeping active."
Manager Tim Kiely, aged 47, from Newcastle said: "Eric is a well known and friendly face around the gym and is a lovely man. It is quite unusual for someone of his age to be so active and he has an extreme workout regime by anybody's standards."
The dedicated pensioner attends at least two yoga classes a week and takes part in suspension training.
Tim explained: "The suspension training is very difficult and if you saw it you wouldn't believe it.
"I can't even do most of the moves as it is quite advanced but Eric is doing them and he's almost twice my age.
"He rightfully gets a real sense of achievement from doing these exercises.
"The guy is just an amazing example to us all." Eric, from Leek Road has been a member for more than 10 years at the gym, formerly known as Esporta.
He retired as a manager at Steelite 27 years ago.
The former ballroom dancing teacher started going to classes aged 79 and has never looked back.
Eric took up classes was following the death of his wife Carol, who passed away aged 81 from stomach cancer.
He said: "Carol was quite ill towards the end and I was always sat around in waiting rooms at the hospital with her.
"I realised when she passed away that I was physically run down and I needed to do something to get myself fit again.
"I know most people wouldn't think of joining a gym at that age but I'm really glad I did."
Eric celebrated with his fellow gym members with a special party.
Fellow gym-goer Pat Axon, aged 67, from Werrington said: "I have been going to the yoga classes for almost 12 years and Eric has been there all that time.
"He is a fantastic man who takes his fitness very seriously."
Retired Sales Executive Pat, from Toll Bar Road, said: "It is a very special day for Eric and we wanted him to know that he has people around him.
"It's funny because to look at him you wouldn't think he was a day over 70.
"He has great posture and I am still recovering from when he did the splits in class recently."