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Why life is only beginning for us at 60... just like Madonna

 

As Madonna celebrates her birthday today, Karen Ireland talks to two Northern Ireland women about reaching this milestone — and what the age-defying star means to them.

‘I’m sure she’ll embrace her 60s and that’s my plan too, I  intend to stay fit and healthy’

Yvonne McGarrity (57) is a Pilates teacher from Belfast. She says:

I ’ve always loved Madonna. Indeed I would rather put on one of her records and dance around the living room than go to the gym. I’ve always admired her style and music and as a dancer she influenced me over the years.

After I left school I trained as a professional ballet dancer and that took me all over the world. I have danced in Las Vegas and in West End shows.

I travelled everywhere, taking part in auditions and performing on the stage. I was a dancer at the time when Hot Gossip were a huge group and everyone went to Pineapple Dance Studios in London.

It was hard work and at times it was all-consuming. I never married or had children, so I guess you could say I was married to my career.

Like Madonna, I loved what I did, and I worked hard to succeed — I have always admired Madonna for that, too. 

About 19 years ago it became a natural progression for me to move from dance into exercise. I did stretch and tone classes and aerobics, and then I started to study Pilates.

I loved it as a form of exercise and I found that it helped so many people.

It turned out to be so good for the body and have so many benefits. I was taking classes before it became a trendy and popular form of exercise. GPs and physios were referring people to come to my classes because of the benefits of this gentle form of exercise.

It helps people with a lot of ailments and allows them to move freely.

Like Madonna, I have always been independent and resourceful. I own my own house, have a nice car and enjoy nice holidays.

One of my first memories of Madonna was dancing to her early hit Holiday in the United States. And as the years have gone by, she has looked after herself well and kept herself toned and fit.

She is outrageous at times, but she is a powerful role model for women. I also loved all her choreography. She was way before her time. I’m sure that Madonna intends to embrace her 60s and that’s my plan, too. I intend to stay fit and healthy and looking good. After all, she looks amazing — and she is also a mum to young children.

‘I like that even though she’s fabulously wealthy she still looks for the next big thing’

Maureen Martin (who is in her mid-60s) is director of her own model agency and interior design business. She is married to Robin and lives in Bangor. She has three grown-up children, Karen, Tanya and Susan, and eight grandchildren. She says:

I have always admired Madonna as she is a powerful role model for women who has always been ahead of her time. I loved her style and fashion over the years, from those early accessories like fishnet stockings and gloves to the Jean Paul Gaultier corset. She was a style icon who paved the way for other musicians and performers. I’ve also enjoyed watching her evolve over the years.

I left school and became a model, then eventually opened my own agency. I also expanded into interior design as well.

Though I’m now in my 60s I couldn’t imagine not working and I like the fact that Madonna, though fabulously wealthy, still continues to take on new projects and look for the next big thing. I think it helps if you love what you do, as she clearly does, and as I do. I also know that I couldn’t be someone who sits at home all day. I have to be busy and active. I think that keeps you young.

If I am not working with the models or putting on shows, I am working in the interior design business.

Like Madonna, I have managed to balance a successful career with motherhood and looking back I seemed to have coped okay. My mother was a great help and my husband was around a lot and very supportive which made a huge difference.

I think having a career and a family and now being involved with my grandchildren has kept me young, though I’m not quite sure how Madonna manages with young children — I can just about cope with the grandchildren at this stage in life.

I have fond memories of Madonna over the decades. For example, I remember my daughters and I dancing around to her music. She has always had a great sense of adventure and fun and has always been pushing the boundaries.

What’s hugely inspiring too is that as she turns 60, she looks fabulous. I think she is to be admired. She has achieved a lot over the years and has been a great mum. She’s evidently very close to her family which I can completely understand and identify with because my family mean everything to me. Due to the nature of my work I am busy at times and don’t always get to see them and spend as much time with them as I would like, but we make what time we do have together count.

I am embracing my 60s and am busier than ever. I have no intention of slowing down and I don’t think Madonna has either. She is a rebel but we love her for it.

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