Senior Gym Rats
Forget armchair aerobics. These seven active seniors are swapping out rocking chairs and bingo games for chin-ups and body sculpting.
Photography by Cathy Pinsky
Makeup by Meredith Hayman
Ever feel like you just can’t drag yourself to the gym? Get ready to be inspired by the exercise routines of some active golden oldies for whom working out is—almost—as important as spoiling the grandkids.
Jackie Rosenberg, 69
Armonk // Real estate broker // Armonk Personal Training Center (Armonk)
When did you start working out? About ten years ago. Why? I just wanted to do it. How often do you work out? Four to five times a week for about an hour each time. Do you work out with friends? I like to go to the gym by myself because I can meet people while I’m there—it’s my social time. Do you listen to music? No, but I do watch TV—I’m a Fox News junkie. What about your gym makes it appealing? I don’t have to compete with twenty- and thirty-year-olds and wonder what kind of outfit they are going to wear next. I am here for the exercise and not the fashion show—I don’t need to have a fancy shmancy atmosphere. What is your least favorite part about going to the gym? I actually really like to go. It’s pleasure and not a burden. Does your age impact what you can do? There’s nothing I can’t do!
Cataldo Parisi, 70
White Plains // Retired carpenter // Family CourtSports (Elmsford)
When did you start working out? In 2002, when I partially retired. Why? When I worked full-time, I criticized everyone for going to the gym. Why don’t you just work? Why do you have to pay to work out? But then when I started working less, I thought I’d check out a gym. I found that working out in the gym is different from doing physical work; you use different muscles. Is working out more physically demanding than, say, building a cabinet? I find working out has more benefits for my health overall. I feel more relaxed and energetic after the gym. How often do you work out? Five days a week. What is your typical workout routine? I do every class available—yoga or body sculpting, cardio, step, and zumba. If there’s no class available, I’ll go on the machines. What do you like best? I like the yoga class because it helps sculpt the body. Do you feel buff? I certainly feel more toned up. Are you in better shape now than when you were forty or fifty? When I was fifty, if I went to the store with my wife, I had to find a chair and rest. Now I don’t need a chair.
Joel Neiterman, 70
Purchase // Retired owner of fabric company // Strata Health Club (West Harrison)
When did you start working out at a gym with a trainer? About three years ago. Why? Because, as I am getting older, I need to build up my muscles. I work out to become stronger and healthier. Did you do any regular exercise before? For about ten years, I used the machines in my home. How often do you work out with your trainer? One day a week for an hour. Why only once a week? Primarily because of finances. What else do you do for exercise? About three or four days a week, in addition to the workout, I do thirty-five or forty minutes on the treadmill and some weight lifting. How did you feel the first time you worked with a trainer? I was sore as hell. Now it doesn’t hurt at all. Seen any specific health benefits from exercising? I have arthritis in both of my knees, and I was constantly in pain before. It’s been two years and I have had no pain. What is the best thing about going to the gym? I always had trouble walking thirty or forty steps, but now that I work out consistently, I have had no aches or pains.
Selma Skolnick, 81
Katonah // Retired school administrator // Apogee Pilates & Wellness Centers (White Plains)
When did you start working out? In 1998. My doctor told me that I was overweight and should walk on the treadmill. By exercising and working with a nutritionist, I lost forty pounds in five months. How often do you work out? Once a week with my trainer and then four to six times a week for an hour in the pool doing aqua aerobics at Club Fit. What kind of bathing suit do you wear? Whatever I can find at Costco. Why do you work out? Because it is very good for you. Period. What is your typical workout routine? I work on all parts of the body and a lot on balance. I do a complete workout—upper body and lower body with five to eight pounds of weights. Any advice to other seniors about working out? It’s never too late to start working out and you get better and better. What’s your least favorite part about exercising? Waking up early in the morning; most of my classes start by eight-thirty. Are there days you’d rather stay home and watch TV? There’s never a day that I’d rather be home—I work out five days out of seven. And I don’t watch TV. What does your doctor say about your working out? He wishes more people would do it. Have you had any injuries? Not from working out. But I slipped on the ice this past winter and fractured my sacroiliac.
Lorrayne Cuozzo, 85
Port Chester // Retired registered nurse // Rye YMCA (Rye)
When did you start working out? I joined the Rye Y in 1981. How often do you work out? I try for four times in eight days. Why do you work out? I know how important exercise is for health. What is your typical workout routine? I used to do exercise classes and go on the treadmill but it hurt my knees. So now I do my laps in the pool for about thirty-five to forty minutes. Do you work out alone? I do laps alone but I have friends at the gym. What motivates you to go to the gym? My health Does exercise change your mood? Sometimes I have to push myself to go, but then, when I am through, I always feel better. Does working out affect your weight? When I don’t go regularly, I gain weight.
Rickie Haas, 72
Rye Brook // Retired nutritionist // LA Boxing (Mamaroneck)
When did you start working out? A little more than four years ago. Why boxing? I’ve always been into exercise. I was into running and then tennis and later golf, so when I saw an ad for LA Boxing, I went and tried it out. How often do you work out? Twice a week. Why do you work out? I want to be fit and healthy. What’s the best part of your workout? It’s very energizing. Do you listen to music when exercising? They have dance music CDs that they play and it’s all very rhythmic. I have two favorite songs—one is by Elliott Yamin and the other is 'So What' by Pink. What’s your favorite part? You sweat like crazy. Do you have any arthritis? Yes, in my knees, shoulders, and thumbs. How does that affect your workout? I can’t squat too low and, when I do pushups, I do them on my knees because full pushups put too much strain on my shoulders. I also can’t do a lot of jumping stuff. Have you had any injuries from working out? No. How long do you think you’ll be doing this? As long as I can. And if this particular workout gets to be too strenuous, I’ll find something else.
Stanley Berman, 74
Armonk // Retired attorney // The Gym (Armonk)
When did you start working out? In 1963 when I was 27. How many times a week do you workout? About three or four. Why do you workout? To stay in shape—I don’t want to get too old or too fat. What is your typical workout routine? I usually take a spinning class two days a week and, one day, my wife and I work with Declan, our trainer. On one or two other days, I’ll do a combination of aerobics, elliptical, and weight training. Do you listen to music when you workout? I take the iPhone with me and listen to a talk show on NPR. My favorite songs to listen to are fifties pop and songs from the classic American songbook. How many sit-ups do you do? About fifteen half or modified sit-ups in sets of three. And how much can you bench-press? I very rarely do that. What are you most proud of? Keeping up with the younger people in my spinning class. What do you wish you could do but can’t? I wish I could run, but my aged bones won’t let me do it any more. What does your doctor say about working out at your age? He’s in favor of it.