You’re Never Too Old to Get Fit

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Cathy Willis, Ann Toms, Al Reaser, Marlene Schang and Larry Barnett.
Cathy Willis, Ann Toms, Al Reaser, Marlene Schang and Larry Barnett.

Retirement can make you feel younger if you’ll get moving. That’s what a handful of folks at PT Plus fitness have found out through some disciplined exercising.

“I have fibromyalgia,” said Cathy Willis, “and arthritis and I found out I had onset of Type II diabetes. The doctor told me to eat better and get weight off. I’ve lost 24 pounds since coming here. I started on my own but it was going very slow. I’d like to lose about 20 more. There’s definitely a help in getting weight off your joints.” Willis said she exercises four days a week. “I’m very dedicated. They gave me a personal trainer and that really helped me. It saved me from doing damage to myself.”

“I wasn’t getting any results with walking,” said Marlene Schang. “I needed discipline. I put it on my calendar and I check it off. I find the results to be awesome. In two years my bone density test went up 7 percent and my body mass index went down 4 percent. At my waist and hips, I’ve lost seven inches. And I didn’t know it was happening. I noticed my clothes changed a bit. The great thing is they measure everything here and then they individualize.

“I couldn’t do the elliptical because of my knees. Now I’m in my third year and I can do 25 minutes. It’s not magic. It’s discipline. That’s what gets results. That’s the key. I’m 72 but in my assessment now I came out as being at age 64.”

“I come four days a week, “ said Ann Toms, 67. “Two days on my own and two days to fitness class. I started walking after I retired but I got heel spurs. I went for a bone density test and they told me I was at the step before osteoporosis. I use a 15-pound vest. I really don’t want to lose weight. I just want to maintain, I go 15 to 20 minutes on the elliptical. The weight-bearing helps my osteoporosis. I probably lost 5 pounds, but really I think it shifted. I think it’s important for seniors to exercise. It helps your attitudes and gives you energy. I’m anxious to see what my bone density test will be in September.”

Larry Barnett, age 90, said jokingly, “My problem is age. I’ve been coming for three years. I want to get back to playing golf. I was a 6 handicap at one point. My balance was getting bad and I have trouble with arthritis.

“O’ God, I’ve made progress.” The former Marine said he now can stand on a what are called “pillows,” blue plastic balls that require one to balance to stay on. Barnett said he was a dentist for 35 years and he ascribes some of his troubles to having to work in contorted positions. He exercises three times a week.  “I do pretty well now with 10-pound weights. I love it here in Crozet. I say you gotta keep smiling every day of your life.” That is the way a dentist would look at it.

“Larry is our poster boy of what you can do if you remain active,” Al Reaser interjected. “He’s magnificent for someone 90 years old.

“When I retired I had no reason not to work on my weight,” Reaser said. “I had all the ‘good life’ diseases, like high blood pressure. My goal was to weigh what I did when I got out of Army basic training. I’ve lost 60 pounds—20 to go. Now I take half the blood pressure and cholesterol medicine I was.

He’d been having trouble with his knees, too. “I wanted to get to 65 before I had them replaced.” He had the surgery in February; both knees replaced at the same time. They have twin 10 inch scars, still slightly red. “I wore them out and became bowlegged. The surgery straightened my legs and got pressure off my hips. The exercise routine was designed to avoid impact and still get cardio fitness. I came home in a walker and in two months I am going without a cane.

“The whole key is to work hard to get the range of motion back. Everyone says the key to recovery is rehab. I understand now and I appreciate it.

“Losing weight boils down to portion control and exercise. A calorie is a calorie. Changing your lifestyle is hard, but that’s what you have to do. You can’t get discouraged when you have a breakdown.”

Reaser said he exercises 4 or 5 times a week. “I double my heart rate for 45 minutes. They say get a friend and go exercise. I didn’t have one, but I found them here.”

So, now, get a friend and go exercise and stick with it. You’ll succeed too.