Popmo teacher celebrates 80th birthday

Celia Powis is presented with a bouquet by South Downs Leisure
Celia Powis is presented with a bouquet by South Downs Leisure

Popmobility instructor Celia Powis is still teaching at 80 – ten years after she fought to keep her job.

Delighted class members watched as South Downs Leisure staff surprised Celia with a bouquet of flowers at Worthing Leisure Centre last Tuesday to celebrate her birthday.

Celia started working at the centre in the late 1970s, when she provided cover for the keep fit class instructor as part of a ladies recreation morning.

She would add an extra half hour to the session and these routines to music were the beginning of popmobility.

Loyal follower Linda Thorne said: “We do not know of any other instructors of her age and fitness. We are all so proud of her and long may she continue to teach at Worthing Leisure Centre.”

Celia runs five classes a week and some members have been going to her sessions for 30 years.

Regular Tina Russell said: “She is amazingly fit and still very enthusiastic about teaching keep fit to all.”

Celia won a battle with Worthing Borough Council to keep her job after they delivered a bombshell on January 30, 2008, the day before her 70th birthday.

She was told too old to continue her ‘popmo’ classes but Celia appealed and a hearing on March 18, 2008, reversed the sacking decision.

Popmobility is different to other forms of keep-fit teaching, with different forms of music. It was the inspiration of Ken Woolcott, an Amateur Athletics coach for Great Britain, and now has more than 1,000 routines, most of which Celia remembers.