Family Status: Married
Hometown: Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Starting Weight: 182 pounds
Current Weight: 170 pounds
Current Waist Size: 32″
John’s Senior Fitness Story!
(Reprinted from IowaHealthiestState.com)
I joined Mercy Fitness Center in Cedar Rapids Iowa with a simple goal: go as many times a week as possible for a month to get back in shape – then quit to maintain my weight on my own. I selected Mercy Fitness Center because of its older clientele and the pay-by-the-month membership.
To give you a little background, I am in sales, so my work is not that physically demanding. I have worked out at various fitness centers and gyms on and off for most of my life but had let it go for several years. I found myself out of shape and about 10-20 pounds overweight – not real bad but enough to get a little winded doing the “commercial dash” to the refrigerator.
The first week went well, I had a full assessment and the staff at Mercy set up a workout regimen for me to follow. I was off to a good start. The second week came and went then the third. I was still alive and working out 3-4 times a week. When I finished the fourth week I decided I needed to give it one more month so I signed up for another.
At the end of the 6th week I had lost the ten pounds I wanted to lose. I was so excited I told my trainer. The next day I found a hand written note from her in my workout chart congratulating me. That note was the deciding point for me and I signed up for 3 more months.
The first three-month membership soon turned into a second three-month membership. I would plan my vacations so I could get in a workout and I didn’t miss a week! I was averaging 2-3 workouts a week when a friend told me about a Pilates class she was taking and what that had done to strengthen her core muscles. I soon joined a Pilates class on Monday nights. I liked this workout because it involved intense exercises that did not last long before changing to something else. When asked what Pilates was I would say my daily workouts were for the big muscles and Pilates was for all the little ones in-between. 3 years later the Pilates instructor left the gym, so I decided to try Yoga.
Our Yoga instructor was a bit of a free spirit. She often included some interesting and challenging poses in her classes. I soon discovered Yoga was not as easy as I had thought. One of the first poses we attempted was a head stand up against a wall. I didn’t have any problem with this but wanted to be able to do one without the wall. I continued the yoga class every week, building flexibility and range-of-motion, an asset to me as a SCUBA diver for Linn County Underwater Search and Recovery.
Eventually the health center resumed their Pilates classes and I increased my weekly workouts to 3-4 sessions of cardio and weight lifting workouts plus Pilates and Yoga. I find this fitness regimen works well for me. The daily sessions are 35-40 minutes long so I don’t dread going to them and the Pilates and Yoga are now as much a social gathering as they are workouts.
I have worked out every week for 517 weeks (almost 10 years) and I am 63 years old. Because of my commitment to fitness I can still do everything I could do when I was 20 and maybe even a little more! I don’t mind getting old as long as I can still do the things I love to do.
I reached a few goals beyond losing those first ten pounds including the head stand without the wall, which took me 1 ½ years to master. The confidence that came from achieving that goal was very rewarding and that note from my trainer is still in my workout chart!
John’s Senior Fitness Interview!
How many pounds or inches did you lose?
I have lost 12 pounds and 2 inches!
At what age did you start exercising?
I started working out when I was 53 years old.
What made you decide to start exercising?
I hit rock bottom and had no energy and was depressed.
What is your primary fitness goal?
My main goal is to avoid starting all over.
How many days per week do you workout?
I workout 4-6 days per week.
What is your favorite body part to train?
I like training my entire body but I really like doing core work.
What is the most challenging thing about working out as you get older?
My age has really not changed my workouts at all.
How has your life changed from starting a fitness program?
I started my fitness program 517 weeks ago and I haven’t missed any of my workouts during that time. In two weeks I will have worked out at least once every week at the same gym for 10 years! I lost 12 pounds in one month and have not varied from my goal weight more than 2-3 pounds during that entire time. I can do everything now that I was able to do when I was 20 years old!
What advice can you give seniors who think they are too old to exercise?
The YMCA that I workout at has lots of seniors who are happy and active. I have watched some of them go from barely moving to being very energetic.
John’s Senior Fitness Tips!
Senior Fitness Tip #1:
Start slow! It’s a marathon not a sprint.
Senior Fitness Tip #2:
Ask for help when starting a new program. I see too many people wandering around the gym not knowing where to start and those people usually don’t last very long.
Senior Fitness Tip #3:
It’s not all about weight loss so just keep moving your body and you will reach your goals.
Senior Fitness Tip #4:
A good workout does not have to take hours and involve lots of sweat. Many of my workouts are only 35-40 minutes long.
Senior Fitness Tip #5:
Fitness is a mind game, so learn out what works best for you and stick to it.
John’s Senior Fitness Eating Plan!
What do you normally eat for breakfast?
Toast and coffee.
What do you normally eat for lunch?
A health bar.
What do you normally eat for dinner?
I eat whatever I want for dinner, just not as much as I used to.
What do you normally eat for snacks?
Apples, pretzels and an occasional shake.
What type of nutritional supplements do you take?
I do not take any supplements.
John’s Senior Fitness Workouts!
What do you do for weight training (exercises, workouts)?
I do different variations of circuit weight training along with Pilates and Yoga. The last two are very important for seniors because they improve flexibility and balance which helps to prevent falling.
What do you do for cardio training (exercises, workouts)?
I start each workout on the elliptical machine to warm-up my body. I like taking long walks and I enjoy hiking. I also make sure to always take the stairs and avoid elevators.