Monday, July 28, 2008

Role Models For Fitness

Recent Success By Older Athletes May Aid Health Clubs, Therapists

“Fifty-three-year-old Greg Norman's unexpected resurrection in last week's British Open golf championship and the comeback of 41-year-old Olympic swimmer's Dara Torres might be more than simply fascinating sports stories. Norman's strong showing -- he was the oldest player ever to lead the venerable tournament after three rounds before finishing third -- and Torres' try for more Olympic gold in Beijing next month might serve as moments of inspiration for a generation of aging weekend warriors. ‘No question,’ said T.W. Pulliam, PGA director of golf at The Dominion Club at Wyndham in Glen Allen, talking about Norman's out-of-the-blue performance. ‘I would certainly hope people would see this and say, 'It's never too late.’ Baby boomers and others beyond the traditional age of competitive sports don't need a lot of encouragement when it comes to acknowledging the importance of exercise -- even if they don't all carry through by actually jogging, lifting weights or taking aerobics classes. According to the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association, the number of health-club members 55 or older in 2005 was 8 million, an increase of 314 percent since 1990. The number in the 35-to-54 age category, 13.5 million, represents an increase of 113 percent. The success of aging famous athletes on the world stage might lead even more boomers to join health clubs or sign up for more golf lessons, which would certainly please Pulliam and other teaching pros. At the least, such triumphs of age will reinforce what boomers already know, said Hunter Schwartz, director of operations at the James Center YMCA in downtown Richmond. ‘The boomers are really the first generation that's grown up with exercise as part of their life,’ he said.”

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