Vanda Murray a 'living legend' at Leschenault Leisure Centre

99-year-old Vanda Murray works out at the Leschenault Leisure Centre three times a week, before having a tea and a 'boozy' chocolate afterwards.
99-year-old Vanda Murray works out at the Leschenault Leisure Centre three times a week, before having a tea and a 'boozy' chocolate afterwards.

"We get people in their 40s come to the gym and say oh this is too hard. So I just say to them, we actually have a member who is 99-years-old. That definitely changes their outlook," Leschenault Leisure Centre acting health and fitness coordinator Tania Busslinger.

Vanda Murray is an inspiration to our community as someone who is at the forefront of not letting age restrict her in any way.

She is 99-years-old, still drives herself around, regularly makes her famous, liqueur-filled, 'boozy' chocolates and attends the gym at the Leschenault Leisure Centre three times a week.

She also refers to herself as an 'animal liberationist' as she can't 'stand cruelty to animals' and donates an amount monthly to animal protection organisation, Animals Australia.

Originally from England, Ms Murray has lived in Australia for more than half her life with her husband (now deceased) John Murray, whom she was married to for 'a good 50 years'.

We change as we get older so it's important for me to keep my brain active. I had two brothers who died at 97 and 94-years-old of dementia. That's why it's important.

Vanda Murray

After owning a restaurant in Essex, the Murray's relocated to Australia to live on a sheep farm.

Today, Ms Murray lives with her daughter Raneleigh Esterman and her husband Joe with their two dogs, Rufus and Rigby, on their five acre property in Roelands.

Ms Murray joined the Leschenault Leisure Centre's 'Living Legends' program in 2010 and said she loved the friendly people and the feeling of inclusiveness at the gym.

"I love the program here. It was my doctor who suggested I start coming here to stay fit and healthy so I joined when I was 90 and never stopped," Ms Murray said.

She is known famously at the gym for making her 'boozy' chocolates for everyone, which are filled with various liqueurs including grand marnier, cointreau and brandy.

Ms Murray's 'secrets' to a long and healthy life include having a glass of champagne every night, eating a 'hot, juicy' garlic sandwhich every day to help keep her blood pressure down and keeping her mind alert.

Ms Murray said everyone at the gym loved her 'boozy' chocolates because they were so yummy.

Ms Murray said everyone at the gym loved her 'boozy' chocolates because they were so yummy.

She also reads French novels every night before bed and spells out words backwards.

"We change as we get older so it's important for me to keep my brain active. I had two brothers who died at 97 and 94-years-old of dementia. That's why it's important," Ms Murray said.

The centres 'Living Legends' program is a progressive strength and exercise program for people aged 50 and over.

Originally part of the state governments 'Living Longer, Living Stronger' program, the program at the centre is aimed at reducing the incidence of falls and improving the health of the elderly.

The program runs at the centre every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 11am to 12pm.

Tania Busslinger has worked at the centre for 14 years and remembers when Ms Murray joined the gym in 2010.

"Vanda is great, she's really up with things and is fantastic to have a conversation with," Ms Busslinger said.

"And just the stories she tells me from when she was younger, you wouldn't know it but she was a bit of a rebel who never went by the rules!"

In terms of the program, Ms Busslinger said new members underwent an appraisal first before beginning their workouts, which enabled the creation of a tailormade program specific to their needs.

Leschenault Leisure Centre acting health and fitness coordinator Tania Busslinger with Ms Murray.

Leschenault Leisure Centre acting health and fitness coordinator Tania Busslinger with Ms Murray.

"There was definitely a need for a program like this, not just for the physical side in those 50 and older but for the mental aspect as well.

"We've had a number of people feeling lonely or being scared about joining a gym for the first time, but joining has helped them be more social with being with like minded people and the tea and coffee we have after their workout.

"There's a huge benefit to your mental health being part of a group like this. These people go off travelling and play other sports because of the confidence they've gained here," Ms Busslinger said.

Ms Murray will turn 100-years-old on January 5, 2022.

As is tradition at the Leschenault Leisure Centre for Ms Murray, a 100th birthday celebration will be held at the centre on Wednesday, January 5 after Ms Murray's workout.

She will then have further celebrations with her family and friends on Saturday, January 8.

"I have two daughters, six grandchildren and five grandchildren," Ms Murray said.

"I'm hoping everyone can come to my party but it really depends as they live in Victoria, Sydney and Queensland. I'll just have to wait and see."

Interested in joining the 'Living Legends' program?

Call the Leschenault Leisure Centre on 9797 4000 or email llc.admin@harvey.wa.gov.au.

This story 99-year-old gym lover a 'living legend' first appeared on Bunbury Mail.