Tia had worked hard to get a body she was happy with — but one woman was determined to upstage her…
The doorbell rang and I dashed to the front door to open it. A moment later, I was in the middle of a flurry of hugs and kisses.
‘Hello, darling Tia,’ Gran beamed.
Relatives from both sides of the family were visiting, and lots of them had pressed packets of sweets into my hands as they’d come through the door.
Not my gran Lesley though. She never bought me treats.
‘I picked up some lovely organic eggs and wholemeal flour on the way over,’ she announced.
‘I’m going to make you some delicious, healthy pancakes.’
Her quirkiness would make me laugh, but the pancakes were always fantastic.
Beside, she had always been so fit and healthy.
She practically lived in Lycra. She did yoga and weight-lifting, and I had to admit her figure was one of the best I’d ever seen.
As I reached my teenage years, Gran had an idea.
‘How would you like to come down to the gym with me one day?’ she suggested.
‘I’d love that,’ I replied.
'Why don't we shoot a funny video?'
So we arranged for me to join her at the local fitness studio.
There, she showed me how to use each exercise machine. She also gave advice on what sort of routine I should follow.
‘Phew, can I stop yet, Gran?’ I panted as I ran on the treadmill.
‘Keep going a little further,’ she said. ‘You can do it.’
She pushed me hard. But soon I could see the benefits, and I grew to love having her as my training partner.
Through our gym work, we became best friends, too.
We worked out together three times a week — just 30 minutes was enough for a full body work-out.
Afterwards, we felt revitalised.
‘You just need to do half an hour a day — nothing more — to feel more positive, mentally and physically,’ Gran explained. ‘Consistently doing short work-outs will make you look and feel fabulous. You don’t even need to leave home to do them.’
But after lifting weights in our matching gear, it wasn’t long before heads started turning.
Some men couldn’t take their eyes off us, particularly Gran.
She was a blonde bombshell, and loved the attention. Nothing made her happier than a compliment on her appearance.
‘Are you mother and daughter?’ a muscular man in a tank top asked.
‘No, I’m Tia’s gran,’ she replied with a wink.
We got asked the same question all the time.
‘There’s no way she’s your gran,’ flirty fellas would gasp, completely baffled.
But it was true.
I was 18 years old and Gran was 63 — she was 45 years my senior. But we never saw it like that.
‘Being with you is like meeting my younger self,’ Gran would always tell me.
I thought it was really sweet.
Because of our rising popularity in the gym, an idea came to me one afternoon.
‘Gran, why don’t we shoot a funny video of us training together?’ I asked her.
'There was no telling her what to do'
‘I’m up for anything,’ she replied, without a moment’s hesitation.
She really was the best gran in the world.
We had a blast filming the 60-second clip. It was like a summary of our life.
In the video, I strolled in wearing my school uniform and dumped my bag on the floor.
My gran was just chilling on the couch.
‘Grandma, let’s go to the gym,’ I said in front of the camera.
Then we did a twirl, and suddenly we were in our work-out gear.
Next, we were training.
This is great, I thought, posting it up on social media.
The next morning, I woke to see I’d had loads of missed calls from Gran.
‘What’s up?’ I said, when I called her back.
‘The video has gone viral!’ she screamed down the phone. ‘People are really freaking out about my age.’
She was so excited.
The clip was being shared thousands of times.
The following night, I was out shopping when a stranger stopped me.
‘I saw you on the video,’ she said. ‘Did you pay that woman to pretend to be your grandma?’
I couldn’t stop laughing, and I was excited to tell Gran all about it.
‘I’m being recognised too,’ Gran told me later. ‘A couple of kids who were about 10 years old asked me whether I was that gran off TikTok.’
Soon, newspapers across the globe began publishing stories about us.
‘Look, we’re going on Japanese TV now too,’ Gran chuckled one evening.
We never expected such a global reaction.
It was completely surreal.
Being in the spotlight could have become overwhelming, but we smiled our way through it all.
The best part was that working out with Gran had inspired other men and women to look after their health, no matter their ages.
Our number of Instagram followers shot up too. Between us, we soon had more than a quarter of a million.
With all the attention we were getting, it wasn’t surprising that bachelors came knocking — for Gran that is, not me!
She was getting asked out on far more dates than I was.
But of course, Gran took it all in her stride.
‘Some of the men are even proposing,’ she giggled. ‘Gosh, some of them are so young.’
She never turned her nose up at the messages and was always polite — even if some young men were sending filthy photos.
‘My mum used to tell me boys don’t like girls with muscles,’ Gran said. ‘After all these years, I’ve finally proved her wrong.’
Despite turning 64, Gran was free and single, and always dated younger guys.
‘I don’t celebrate birthdays because I feel ageless,’ she’d say.
When she went out on a date, she got my mum Vanessa to call her an hour into it.
‘I just want her to make sure I’m OK,’ Gran explained.
It was a role reversal — she was like the teenage daughter.
With the boost she’d got in Instagram followers, more people were seeing her motivational fitness posts.
But an insight into her healthy lifestyle wasn’t all she felt comfortable revealing…
Scrolling through Instagram one afternoon, my eyes popped wide open. It was a picture Gran had posted…
All she had on was a black thong and matching bra. Her exposed bum was facing the camera.
It was a sexy shot, but not exactly one you wanted your gran posting online!
Really not sure about this one, I texted her.
Reluctantly, she deleted it from her profile.
But a few hours later, it was back on her page. She just couldn’t help herself.
‘I’m sorry, Tia,’ she laughed down the phone. ‘I love you, but I’m old enough to know what I want to put out there.’
It was Gran all over. There was no telling her what to do.
‘Not many women my age look like me,’ she told me. ‘And I shouldn’t be embarrassed to flaunt it.’
Although I didn’t really love seeing Gran post such provocative content, I was so proud of her.
‘I want all women to put themselves first,’ Gran told me. ‘Traditionally, we’re the carers, but we have to look after ourselves first, before being able to care for others.
‘Plus, health is wealth — if you want to enjoy every minute of life, you have to be healthy and strong to be able to do that.’
Gran taught me I could achieve anything in life if I really wanted to.
Now, I’m 20, and I have a job in the fitness industry.
Gran is 65, and she’s still as fit as ever.
When I see her, I often think she’s exactly what I want to look like when I’m in my 60s.
She’s absolutely gran-tastic.
Tia Christofi, 20
● Both Tia and Lesley can be found on Instagram @tiachristofi and @lesleymaxwell.fitness.