Body Smart Success Stories – Denis Cook

Last year, we shared Rona’s Body Smart Success Story on the blog to show you that anything is possible, at any age. And now, we have another success story that we are so excited to share with you, from our member Denis Cook!

Denis is 70 years old and last year, he impulsively said yes to join a friend to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. He trained for months with our team of Exercise Physiologists and last month, he made it to the summit! We caught up with Denis on his return to Brisbane this week to share his story…

Body Smart: Why did you want to climb Mt Kilimanjaro?

Denis Cook: I’ve always enjoyed walking holidays, but Kilimanjaro wasn’t on any wish list.  A friend who was spending some time in Africa while his daughter was volunteering asked me if I’d join him. Without thinking it through I said yes.

BS: How did you train for the climb and how many months did you train for?  

DC: We trained for about 3 and a half months. Three gym sessions a week, with a program focused on legs, one session of Pilates and a 14k Mount Coot-tha walk once or twice a week. Our Coot-tha track took us up and down 3 times, so we managed 600m elevation change.

BS: How did working with the Body Smart team help you prepare for the hike?

DC: The Body Smart team gave me fantastic support. Kieran gave me some high level advice based on his Himalaya experience, and Lauren and Emily wrote and supervised my gym programs. Unlike some of my contemporaries who thought I was crazy, the Body Smart team was totally encouraging, and gave me the confidence to be successful. With their support, not only did I make the summit, but came home injury free.

BS: How did the climb go?

DC: It was an 8 day climb. The first 5 days were relatively easy, allowing time to acclimatise. However, the summit day was very tough. We left camp at midnight, climbed 1000m to the rim of the crater, arriving there at dawn. Then we climbed a further 200m to Uhuru peak, the highest point of the mountain at 5895m. Then down a 2000m scree slope to our camp.  We arrived totally exhausted after 14.5 hours on the move at relatively high elevations.

BS: What were the highlights from your trip?   

DC: Reaching the crater rim and then the summit were undoubted highlights. But I would never have made it without the calm determination and vast experience of our Chief Guide, Harold. I will remember Harold’s leadership, and the cheerful enthusiasm of our team of porters for a very long time. The hot shower and clean clothes after 8 days on the mountain were pretty special too!

BS: what is the next health and fitness goal you want to achieve?

DC: I don’t have any specific goals in mind just yet. But it is important to me at the age of 70 to maintain a relatively high level of fitness so I can say yes next time I get a crazy phone call.

If you’re inspired by Denis and want to start making your dreams a reality, get in touch with our team of experienced Exercise Physiologists! Call us on 1300 630 204 or email