A 99-YEAR-OLD fitness instructor has revealed the secret to staying active is eating healthily and drinking a glass of brandy every day.

Despite being 10 months short of her 100th birthday, Minnie Solomons is showing no signs of stopping her twice-weekly exercise classes in South Woodford.

Even after a hip operations left her unable to stand up for very long, Minnie is still impressing her fellow pensioners with weekly ‘chair aerobics’ classes at Woodford Forest Synagogue and Milne Court.

The great grandmother, of Beehive Lane, Gants Hill, started teaching exercise classes 50 years ago, after trying one out for herself.

She said: “I have done volunteer work all my life. It’s what keeps me going.

“I can’t describe how great it feels to still be doing my classes after all these years, it makes me very happy.

“Things haven’t quite been the same since my hip operation 18 months ago, but luckily chair exercises have become very popular, so I can keep going.”

After her husband Jacob, or Tonney as he was more affectionately known, died 23 years ago, Minnie has kept herself busy with her love of fitness and the card game Kalooki.

She said: “I don’t just do it for other people, I do it for me too.

“It’s very important for people of my age to keep their bodies and minds active.

“What amazes me is not only can I still do the classes, but that I can remember 30 movements in 45 minutes off the top of my head!”

Minnie’s granddaughter Naomi has been her full-time carer for the last four years and says she was “stunned” the first time she came to one of her classes.

The 56-year-old, of Emmaus Way, Chigwell, said: “She might be less than five foot, but she’s a fierce little thing.

“We’ve always just thought of her as grandma, but when you think about it, what she does is incredible.

“Ironically, she’s the oldest person in the room, even though she’s the one teaching people.

“I absolutely love her to bits, she doesn’t realise how inspirational she is, even if she’s a bit bonkers sometimes!”

When asked the secret to long life, Minnie said eating salad and drinking a glass of brandy every day is her trick to staying fit and healthy.

She added: “I have always been active – when I was younger I used to do running and swimming all the time.

“I do really miss my walking though. It really frees the mind, I used to go for miles.

“But now I still try to eat sensibly and get my five a day, as well as a little glass of brandy too.”

Despite both her weekly classes being almost full, with around 50 members per session, Minnie is still on the lookout for new recruits and plans to keep teaching as long as possible.

One of her 89-year-old pupils, Bernie West from Wanstead, said he thinks it is “wonderful” Minnie is still teaching her classes, which always end in a hearty round of applause from everyone in the room.

She said: “It’s so satisfying, and I know people might think it’s a bit ridiculous, but if I can still do it, why should I give it up?”