Great grandpop-eye

Great grandpop-eye

This is John van Walwyk, a real-life Popeye whose secret to staying superfit at the age of 90 is SPINACH.

The muscular great-grandfather lives in sheltered accommodation but walks two miles to the gym three times a week.

He works through an hour-long routine of 14 different exercises, lifting weights up to 30kg and climbing 226 metres on the step machine.

And vegetarian John powers it all on a diet of spinach and Guinness to get enough protein for his bulging biceps.

John, a grandfather-of-two who lives with wife Marjorie, 78, said: “We live in a sheltered complex and most of the people here are either using frames or walking sticks.

“I think in some cases that’s because they do not exercise and if this encourages people to take up exercise I think it’s worth it.

“I lift weights that are far heavier than the young people lift.

“I’m a vegetarian and so my wife feeds me spinach all the time. It’s a great source of iron that people who lift weights usually get from meat.

“I also drink Guinness, which is another great way of getting iron.”

John, whose family are Dutch, celebrated his 90th birthday last month by giving himself a day off from one of his regular sessions at the gym at Hills Road Sixth Form College in Cambridge.

A father-of-two, he retired as a BT call handler in 1959 and joined the gym 14 years ago as he started putting on weight.

He added: “My weight went up to 15 and a half stone and by exercising I got it down to 14 stone.

All muscle

“I’m now up to 14 and a half, but that extra half is all muscle.”

Marjorie, 78, a retired BT admin assistant, said: “The students sit and watch him, but I don’t think they’ve got any idea how old he really is.

“I’m very proud of him. He is there three times a week. He is very fit and I’m very lucky.”

John worked in a factory making ship parts for much of World War II before being called up at the age of 21 to fight in Burma with the Royal Berkshire Regiment in 1944.

The gym has promised to give the great-grandfather-of-two free membership when he reaches the age of 100.

Manager Natalie Moss said: “I’ve great admiration for John and certainly hope that I will be as active as he is when I reach 90 years of age.

“We try to ensure we keep the vending machine topped up with Yorkie bars as he tells me he and his wife allow themselves one piece a day as a treat.”

John’s workout –

•  Shoulder press

•  3 x 8 reps at 32kg, 3 x 8 reps at 41.5kg, 3 x 8 partial reps at 44kg

•  Bench fly with dumbbells

•  3 x 8 reps at 20kg in each hand

•  Front raise with dumbbells

•  3 x 8 reps at 10kg in each hand

•  Romanian deadlift with dumbbells

•  3 x 8 reps at 14kg in each hand

•  Zottman curls with dumbbells

•  3 x 8 reps at 12.5kg in each hand

•  Hand dips on bench

•  3 x 10 reps

•  Abdominal workout – 60 reps including sit ups and knee bends

•  Step machine – 12 minutes averaging a climb of about 226m, burning 128 calories.