A GREAT grandmother from Paisley found the ideal way to cope with loneliness after losing her husband of 60 years - by hitting her local gym THREE times a week.

Energetic Jean Whelan regularly takes part in a workout that includes tackling a full circuit on the latest equipment.

The 84-year-old has been defying the stereotype of the old-aged pensioner with her attitude and determination to stay young, fit and healthy through exercise.

Every Monday, Thursday and Friday, Jean dons her trainers and heads to Pro-Life Fitness Centre in the Renfrewshire town where she is put through her paces under the watchful eye of champion bodybuilding son Alex, 62.

It came after a bout of ill health and as Jean struggled to cope with life without her beloved other half, Alex Snr.

Jean, who lives in a flat in the south end of the town, described how the gym “isn’t just for the young ones.”

She said: “It’s for people of all ages. Look at me. I’m loving it. I can’t wait to get my trainers on and head down there.

“I’m sure when some of my neighbours see me heading off with my kit, they think I’m nuts, but I feel good. I enjoy pushing myself and achieving what I can to the best of my abilities.

“I was diagnosed with arthritis in my back years ago and used to think I would end up in wheelchair one day, but the exercises have helped with the pain and my back is improving.

“It’s not only the physical benefits of training I enjoy - it’s the mental health advantages too.

“I lost my husband two years ago and it was awful. I missed him so much.

“I would be sitting there thinking, ‘Alex should be here with me’. Despite all the care and attention in the world from my family, I felt lonely. I was sad and could easily have just hidden away.”

Jean continued: “I’m glad I didn’t. Coming down here has helped me so much. It keeps me fit, the staff and members are like one big family. I feel like the Queen some days as so many people wave to me and I wave back.

“My message to anyone out there hesitating about coming along to the gym for whatever reason - whether it’s confidence, age, weight issues, lack of fitness or ability - is forget all of that. Just take that first step.”

Jean doesn’t expect or want to get off lightly as she works on the various up-to-the-minute machines to strengthen her back, arms and chest one day and legs and shoulders the next.

Her well-known son Alex, seven-time Scottish Bodybuilding Champion and British Masters Bodybuilding Champion, said: “She really is an inspiration.”

Pro-Life, on New Sneddon Street, is offering a free day pass to any senior who would like to follow in Jean’s footsteps.

Call 0141 889 5027 to organise.