I don't think anyone will deny the fact that the
health and fitness
industry, as a whole, has failed in getting more Americans to exercise.
There are as many theories as to why this is, as there are excuses
exercise. Yet much of the blame has consistently centered on the
industry's focus on outside appearances (what we look like) vs. the
health benefits that occur on the inside.
The good news is, this finally may be beginning to change. Of course
doesn't hurt that President Bush is currently making his push for
Americans to get healthy and active. Kicking off a "fitness
the White House lawn recently, President Bush, 55, joined a field
hundreds for a 3-mile run to convince Americans to take to heart
message that regular exercise is essential to the good health of
and the nation.
But closer to home, San Diego based IDEA Health & Fitness Association,
world's leading membership organization of health and fitness
professionals, with more than 19K members in more than 80 countries,
also recognized there might be a better way to motivate more to
Celebrating their 20th Anniversary with a national conference that
5K health and fitness afficianados to San Diego, IDEA awarded key
a whole new group of individuals -- those working with older adults.
the Aeroba-Bunny exercise concept. Today it's all about helping
healthy throughout their lives, regardless of age. Frankly the reality
we're never too old to exercise -- in fact, we're too old not to!
IDEA's highest honor for "Excellence in Program Direction"
was awarded to
Peggy Buchanan, MA, director of Santa Barbara's first and only fitness
aquatic center at the Vista del Monte retirement community. This
recognizes someone whose outstanding leadership and programming
and influences both active and underactive people to commit to healthy
The highest honor for "Excellence in Fitness Instruction"
was awarded to
Josie Gardiner, 55, who has been involved in the fitness industry
30 years, dedicating her life to developing and promoting practical
programs for older adults. From starting with chair exercises in
1980's, today Josie teaches 150 seniors in group fitness settings
seven personal training clients over 87. The oldest is 99.
But IDEA didn't stop there. Perhaps the evening's most coveted
"Inspirational Athlete of the Year," was presented to
our very own, Bert
Morrow, the 89 year-old world-record hurdler from Escondido, who
the day competed in the local Senior Olympics and won three gold
medals in the
80m Hurdles, the 100m Sprint and the 200m Sprint.
You may remember reading about Bert in one of my earlier columns
when I recapped his amazing story of getting a pacemaker 5 days
spending his 89th birthday hurdling. He walked into Tri-City Hospital
a pulse rate of 30! The doctors were amazed he didn't suffer a heart
or stroke and definitely credit his healthy lifestyle as the reason.
Proving it's never too late, Bert didn't even run his first hurdle
the age of 69 -- claiming he was a physical wreck in his 40's and
he'll tell you he's healthier than ever and his recent pacemaker
proves the point.
"The technology has evolved so much that we really can help
quality of life
for people," said Mike Savage, representative for the Guidant
"Bert's doing great -- his own heart has been beating 99% of
the time, so
the pacemaker's there as a back-up and that gives Bert the peace
of mind to
keep on doing what he loves to do -- hurdling!"
The technology is incredible. They hooked Bert's pacemaker up to
and were able to get a daily reading of his heart-rate for the past
"What were you doing on June 29 at 10:00 a.m. Bert?"
"I was in the starting blocks for my 80m Hurdle race!"
"Well that explains this big change in heart rate we see here
print-out," Savage said. "And what about May 26 and May
11, what happened
Bert thought for a minute and remembered, "I was competing
in track meets
in Long Beach and Irvine on those dates, too!"
We were both absolutely amazed at the detail of this test, and
thrilled that the results confirmed what Bert had been feeling on
"I've felt great since the surgery, and to know all's well
with my ticker
too, makes me want to shout from the rooftops just how important
it is to
eat right and get regular exercise," Bert shared. "I would
have been dead
Although Bert is recognized for his unbelieveable hurdling abilities,
again that outside fitness image that generates the attention. But
story is how he's been able to achieve these remarkable feats --
done on the inside that's made the real difference.
The world needs more role models like Bert Morrow. Not to go out
hurdles, necessarily, but to understand the connection between healthy
lifestyle choices and vital aging.
It's not a coincidence that in his earlier years Bert was a physical
due to his hectic, inactive lifestyle and since turning that around
become an impressive specimen of physical fitness, without any of
typical age-related health problems.
It's not even about hurdling, but rather about believing that you're
too old to try something new. Who would have thought that the sport
thought might kill him -- may actually have saved his life?
It's not that he's invincible -- the pacemaker proves that. But
demonstrate Bert's belief to never give up. Although he had to cut
his activities during his healing, he never wavered from his goal
again and it's likely this goal contributed greatly to his recovery.
We can all learn alot from Bert and that's why he received IDEA's
"Inspiration" award. By looking at his life from the inside
than just the outside results, we can better understand how what
and do on the inside first, affects who we are and what we become
end result people see on the outside.
Perhaps this inside out approach will take the fitness industry
whole new successful direction -- away from emphasizing the outside
to encouraging people to be active for good health first and foremost.
Ferrin is a local gerontologist residing in Carlsbad. She is a certified
AARP retirement specialist, motivational speaker, consultant, and
author of a
nationally released book titled, "What's Age Got To Do With
It?" For column
ideas contact her at (760)438-2126 or on the internet at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kelly Ferrin, Gerontologist Lifestyles (760)438-2126 web: