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‘Going’ is more than getting out of bed

Someone in the fitness and health industry recently made a comment that, “twenty years from now, a nation of super fit 70-somethings will redefine old age.”

I say we don’t have to wait 20 years to see that. I see super fit old people at the recreation center every day.

These are old folks who talk not only of grandchildren and ailments and medications, but also of personal trainers and weight lifting and their times in the 100-meter dash.

Attesting to the fact that one is never too old to pursue athletic competition, and benefit from it, Benny Lohman garnered a silver medal in the 100-meter dash at the National Senior Olympics in Houston, Texas on June 23. Benny is 91 years old (she’ll be 92 in just a couple of weeks). Competing in the 90 and over age category, Benny finished with a time of 42 seconds — coming in behind the winner by only one second. I like to joke with Benny by telling her she really doesn’t need to train harder. She just needs to outlive her competition. Benny can’t die; it would ruin my image of her.

Benny qualified for National Senior Olympics by winning the 100 meter dash for two years in a row at the Rocky Mountain Senior Games in 2009 and 2010. I have been inspired by Benny’s choice of an active lifestyle and her positive spin on life. For her, the glass is always half full. The many ladies who work out with Benny in the water aerobics classes at the recreation center likewise find her to be an encouraging role model.

Younger in age but no lesser in drive and ambition is Fran Brown who participated in the 2011 Rocky Mountain Senior Games held in Greeley, Colo., June 8-12. Over 600 athletes from 17 states attended this open event. Fran, competing in the 65-69 age group, won silver medals in the discus and shot put competition, and a bronze in the javelin. (I wouldn’t want to challenge Fran to an arm wrestling contest.)

Fran moved to Pagosa five years ago and started water aerobics at the Pagosa Lakes Recreation Center shortly after that. The water aerobics leader Brenda McCooey and fellow exerciser Benny Lohman encouraged Fran to include more exercise into her life to improve her health.

“I love living in Pagosa and the recreation center is one of the reasons why,” said Fran. So, using the equipment at the recreation center, Fran got stronger and eventually felt comfortable competing in the Senior Games in 2010 (in shot put and javelin — both new sports for her).

By the fall of 2010, Fran had gathered a group of enthusiastic pickleball players. This is a game that is growing in popularity. Pagosa’s pickleball players play indoors at the community center Monday, Wednesday and Friday, from 8-10 a.m. On Tuesday nights, they play outside, on the outdoor basketball court at the Recreation Center, at 7 p.m. The group invites anyone who’s interested to join them. There’s no cost and equipment is available. For further information, contact Heidi Moller (731-0851) or Fran Brown (884-3184).

Faced with old age, I can take comfort in watching the many recreation center members in their seventies and eighties and nineties doing remarkably well — they are strong and they keep going. “Going” in this case isn’t simply just getting out of bed. These geezers are lifting weights, running or swimming, or playing pickleball or racquetball several times a week. Good for them!

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