THE man credited with creating the blueprint for the UK’s fitness industry has revealed the secret of a long and healthy life.

Ken Heathcote who, at the age of 81, has just completed three open-water swims, is known as the Father of Fitness.

He launched his first gym almost 50 years ago and has spent a lifetime pioneering fitness and health for all.

Mr Heathcote, who lives in Bradshaw, took part in three major open water swimming events over the summer – the Great North Swim covering 3.1 miles at Lake Windermere, a 5.2 mile swim of Lake Coniston and then a final one last month covering the length of Windermere of 10.25 miles. They were completed within eight weeks.

He is sharing the secret of his fitness in his new book ‘We’re Going to Live Forever’, which was launched at Bolton Library.

It chronicles not just how Mr Heathcote has kept his fitness but looks at the positive experiences of others – from Bolton and much further afield – and what can be learned.

“I knew what I wanted to do when I started this book,” he explained.

“But when I began talking to people I really had to re-think it. What they had to say just blew me away and it was the same message over and over again.”

Mr Heathcote, who lives with his wife Brenda and is the father of celebrity chef Paul Heathcote, visited places like St Osmund’s Church Hall in Breightmet. There, he met the women of The Fitness League, formerly The Women’s League of Health and Beauty, and leader Ann Hunt.

He said: “This is no ordinary exercise class,” he states in the book. “For one thing, the leader of the group is 63 years of age and just happens to be the daughter of the eldest, Doris, at 91. Staggeringly, the average age of the class is 74 years, with a total age collectively of 2,000 years! Welcome to Eternal Youth.”

Mr Heathcote talked to them and many other older people about their healthy living routine “and the abiding lesson was that they stuck at it. When it comes to food and exercise, it’s all about getting back to simplicity.

“The majority of the people I spoke to ate three small meals a day, with the occasional glass of wine. Forget dietary trends and food fashions — they had meat and two veg and plenty of exercise. Good health comes from within,” said Mr Heathcote.

He was one of the men behind Bolton Health Studio, which changed the face of gyms bringing a touch of luxury to working out. The studio was founded in 1968.

The book is available on Amazon at £9.99.