Ingrid is enjoying her life too much to retire
At 73 years of age, Ingrid Pich brings a lively presence into a room—any room. We meet in a kitchen/lounge in the complex where she’s just finished conducting an exercise class. She tells me later she’s a ‘high-energy person’. That’s obvious from the start.
Born in the old East Germany, her mother died when she was nine months old. Her father remarried and moved to Hamburg. She was brought up by her grandparents on their farm.
At the age of 10, she joined her father, step-mother and baby brother in Hamburg, and a few months later they migrated to Australia. They arrived in the port of Melbourne on January 1, 1955. A new year, a new life.
Changes to life in her late 50s
Ingrid developed a successful career in Melbourne in international freight forwarding, import and export. Then, at the age of 57, after 29 years of marriage, life changed when she and her husband divorced.
A little later, she formed a relationship with a Frenchman who was transferred to South Korea. She also moved to South Korea and worked in a German freight company. They planned to marry, but she began to have doubts.
Back in Australia, a week before the wedding she says, ‘I decided I wasn’t going to marry him. He’d become very manipulative so I texted him at two o’clock in the morning that it was over.’
The reinvention of Ingrid Pich
Now aged 62, she had to reinvent herself. She started going to the gym. ‘I wasn’t a gym person, but I’ve always enjoyed sport. I worked out a bit and I saw these fitness gurus and I thought, I could do this because I’m good with people and I love what I do. That was it.’
She began working at Fernwood, a gym franchise for women, while studying to be a personal trainer. Older trainers are welcome there because clients are often older, overweight, and unfit women.
When the gym closed she already had private clients and was taking exercise classes in retirement villages, so she concentrated on building her own business. She found more places to run classes along with a couple of early morning classes for executives in the city—one of them at 6.30 am on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
She’s also studied food and diet, and conducts weight loss classes along with developing a skincare product—ingRior—a serum for sensitive skin.
Fitness as a way of life
Ingrid has always enjoyed sport, particularly water sports. She was a competitive kayaker as a teenager and she’s a keen body surfer. She’s also completed three marathons, the first in Sydney at the age of 60, the following two in Vienna.
Her personal fitness is important so she can keep training people, but, ‘I also want to be an example to let them know that age is not the issue. It’s attitude to life and keeping well.’
For herself, ‘I don’t set limits. Just because you’re a certain age doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t do certain things. If you’re healthy enough and you feel you can do it, why not?’
What she does admit to, with a laugh, is: ‘It now takes me longer in the morning to look younger.’
Advice to people thinking of retirement
Ingrid has advice about retirement. First: ‘Think twice!’ Make sure that this is what you want to do. Then: ‘Know what you’re going to do.’
To wake up morning after morning asking, ‘What am I going to do today?’ is a problem. ‘If this happens to you, you’ll get old, I can guarantee it. We all need to have a purpose, something that keeps you young. The message I want to convey to people is: Dare to live your life.’
She doesn’t recommend full retirement, but to try to keep one foot in the working world. For herself, she plans to keep going.
‘For me, life is about challenges. Maybe I’ll find another challenge, but I’ll always keep certain classes going for my benefit. I also want to do some speaking about life—enjoying life and living life—at a senior level.’ She’s not yet ready for retirement.
Then there’s family. ‘I’m very blessed,’ she says, with her two sons and the two ‘lovely girls’ they’re married to. She looks after her four-year-old twin grandchildren (a boy and a girl) once a week and her one-year-old grand-daughter from her other son on a different day. She has time to bond.
‘I think making time for family is important because they grow up so quickly. Besides, it’s magic.’
While her current situation keeps her busy, ‘I’m happy with myself.’