With more than 40 years of leading fitness and twice that in life experience, Kathy Feay is ready to retire and hand off her role after her final class.

“It’s been a ball,” she says of her career. “It’s been a blast.”

Before rounding off her role as a BCRPA registered Fitness Leader with her final class in June, Kathy spoke with the BCRPA about her career and what it has meant to her.

At 81-years-old, she credits moving to Canada and living in BC as one of the best decisions she made in her life, in part, because this is where she fell in love with fitness.

“What [fitness] does for your mental health is absolutely fabulous because I’ve had things going on in my own personal life and fitness, having that mental happiness if you like, it’s help me through.”

Headshot of Kathy Feay smiling
Kathy Feay led fitness for nearly 40 years before retiring at 81. Submitted photo

Hailing from Northern England, Kathy has lived in Canada for more than four decades. From teaching classes at Riley Park Community Centre to taking part in a demonstration at Expo ‘86, Kathy has confidently led physical activity throughout Vancouver, where she now lives.

While her foray into fitness began as a fun neighbourhood activity with other mothers, it evolved into a lifestyle, one that may have been destined from the start.

“The only thing I ever won was a gymnastics class prize. And that is quite funny, because I went on to leave school, get married, have kids, but I just thought there was something in my DNA that brought me back to fitness.”

Once teaching was on her mind, Kathy began to learn and take the fitness courses required, before eventually leading the class she was once a participant in at Riley Park. For a short time in the 90s she travelled around the province to teach weekend workshops for the Red Cross, but mostly taught in Vancouver, later focusing on senior fitness.

“I feel that I’m helping people maintain a good lifestyle, right through into old age, if I can. And, it’s also been good for my health. I’m coming up to 82 now, but I’m not old,” she says.

“The other neat thing [about fitness] is you don’t have to be a certain age. You can start doing it when you’re 50, 60, thinking about retiring from work, or you can come into it as a young person and do it as an adjunct to your professional life or whatever your working life is.”

The flexibility of the certification process worked well for Kathy at the time; the path of getting trained is easier now, she says. For anyone interested in fitness, Kathy suggests diving straight in to learn as much as possible online and see about available courses.

“Of course, all that wasn’t around when I was training,” she says. “It can be a short process if you want it to be, or you can take it over time.”

Watch CTV’s interview with Kathy Feay:

One thing hasn’t changed in her time as a fitness leader – the people. Kathy describes the constant of exceptional people in an industry that has played an important role in her life.

“I’m a people person, you know. I will talk to anybody,” she says. “I just love the camaraderie, the social component, and I love the fact that it’s doing it for me too.”

“So, I would just say, the people, as well as the exercises, are just so vital to keep yourself moving. Keep yourself pain-free.”

Some of the people she met in her early days of taking fitness classes are still her friends today, she adds.

Now in Summer 2022, Kathy feels like it’s the right time to hand over teaching fitness to somebody new.

She led her final class as a Fitness Instructor on June 30 at Hillcrest Community Centre.

©British Columbia Recreation and Parks Association. All rights reserved.