By Kristin Emery
The arrival of spring 2020 is just a few weeks away and that may prompt you to take stock of your New Year’s fitness resolutions. If you’ve fallen off the wagon recently or never got it going, you may find some inspiration if you look around at many members of the Wilfred R. Cameron Wellness Center. Did you know that the center has 28 members who are in the 90s?
They’ve embarked on the ultimate wellness journey of all and credit exercise with keeping them fit. Most of them work out several times a week and you can find a few of them exercising every single day.
“ I like to keep moving and it’s a good thing. I do water Zumba and regular Zumba and they help me keep loose. I think it keeps me on the go. I’m doing pretty well. I don’t have too many pains or anything and I think I’m able to accomplish what I want to most of the time.”
If you want to find the elder statesman of the center, just head to Zumba or Aqua Zumba classes and look for the fellow who may be the only man in the bunch. Ted celebrates his 100th birthday on March 5th and his fellow Zumba classmates will honor him in class March 9th. “I’m always the only rooster in the henhouse,” laughs Ted when joking about how his Zumba classmates are almost always women. You’ll find the South Strabane Township resident at the Wellness Center for a few hours almost every morning. “I enjoy doing it and I think it helps me going,” says the 99-year-old. “I like to keep moving and it’s a good thing. I do water Zumba and regular Zumba and they help me keep loose. I think it keeps me on the go.” On the verge of hitting the century mark, Ted downplays how healthy he has remained by saying he is, “doing pretty well. I don’t have too many pains or anything and I think I’m able to accomplish what I want to most of the time.”
The retired machinist is looking forward to spring when he plants his annual garden full of tomatoes and other vegetables. He still lives in the home he built back in 1948 and shared with late wife Mildred. They were married for 61 years and have three children, 10 grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren. He retired in 1983 but that didn’t slow him down. “I don’t like to sit around,” he says. The Wellness Center not only provides a beautiful place to exercise, it’s also allowed him to make wonderful friends. “I really enjoy it,’ says Ted. “They have a nice facility there and the people are so friendly. It’s taken care of so nicely. I call it my second home! I have so many members there I’m friends with.”
He attributes his longevity and good health to good genes—his mother lived to be 104—and to staying active. “I think it’s the exercising that has helped me so much,” says Ted. “It keeps me on the go. My motto is to keep moving and I hope I can continue doing it!”
“It’s such a nice facility, they have everything I need. Nice clean locker rooms, showers, sauna, swimming pool. I have COPD because I was a smoker. I quit in 1986. I got COPD three years ago and I had to give up tennis. So I started swimming and walking on the treadmill. My wife insists that I go every day if I can. It has helped my breathing and even though I have COPD, I am not on oxygen.”
Growing up in the Netherlands, George was always playing sports. The self-described tennis fanatic also loves scuba diving and skiing. George ended up moving to the U.S. and settling in the Pittsburgh area to work for Alcoa. Now, the 90-year-old McMurray resident credits the Wellness Center with keeping him fit and for helping him to battle Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). “I have COPD because I was a smoker,” explains George. “I quit in 1986. I got COPD three years ago and I had to give up tennis.” But that didn’t mean George gave up exercising or his love of athletics. He just had to change the way he exercised. “I started swimming and walking on the treadmill,” he says. “My wife insists that I go every day if I can. It has helped my breathing and even though I have COPD, I am not on oxygen.” He credits his daily workout routine for helping to lengthen his lifespan. “Normally, the past year I go four days a week and use the swimming pool and three days a week, I use the treadmill.” While he enjoys chatting with other members and appreciates the supportive atmosphere, he says he likes to get into the pool and do his laps rather than waste too much time socializing.” He also adds that he’s not at all surprised that there are so many Wellness Center members in their 90s. “It’s such a nice facility, they have everything I need,” says George. “Nice clean locker rooms, showers, sauna, a swimming pool.”
George has been married to wife Anna Marie, a native of Norway, for 68 years. They have four children and several grandchildren. He claims his daily swims and walks give him more energy—although Anna Marie says he doesn’t need any more energy!
“I had a little arthritis in my knee the doctor said there’s nothing he could really do. After about 10 years, I said to my husband I should go back to the doctor and see if there’s anything new, that’s come up. So I went to see him and he looked at me and he said, ‘What are you doing? You haven’t deteriorated! I can’t get over it!’ I said I’m doing what you told me, I’m going to water aerobics. They had just started the Wellness Center and my husband and I joined before they even built the building.”
Many Wellness Center members in the 90s say they love how the facility, staff and other members help them work on not only their bodies but also on their minds. 93-year-old Marjorie says she enjoys her workouts but also has come to love the Wellness Center book club. “I don’t know if a lot of people know that we have a book club there,” says Marjorie. “We meet once a month, we pick books and we read them and talk about something. And it’s kind of fun to hear what other people think about what you’ve read.” That focus on staying mentally sharps as well as physically active is part of what the Washington resident loves about the facility. “I think the staff bend over backwards to make you feel like they care,” says Marjorie. “And they want you to feel they miss you if you’re not there. They’re all very professional.”
Marjorie was born in Pittsburgh but her family moved to Washington when her father opened S.A. Meyer Jewelry in the Washington Mall. She went to school in Missouri and California where she met her husband, who worked for Westinghouse. They were married 59 ½ years when he passed away in 2012 and have two sons who became a dentist and a lawyer.
Marjorie was always active growing up and she and her husband used to exercise at the old YMCA in Washington. Now, her favorite class is water aerobics, which she credits with keeping her joints healthy. “I had a little arthritis in my knee and the doctor said there’s nothing he could really do,” Marjorie remembers. “After about 10 years, I said to my husband I should go back to the doctor and see if there’s anything new that’s come up. So I went to see him and he looked at me and he said, ‘What are you doing? You haven’t deteriorated! I can’t get over it!’ I said I’m doing what you told me, I’m going to water aerobics. They had just started the Wellness Center and my husband and I joined before they even built the building.”
After her class, Marjorie often relaxes in the hot tub and says she enjoys the camaraderie. “The people are so nice. You know, the instructors are very nice and they put up with us,” she adds with a chuckle. Marjorie says she also enjoys the little extras she finds all around the Wellness Center like nutritional tips and recipes posted on the bulletin boards. “Little tidbits there, you know what’s good to eat and how to prepare it. It’s just a nice thing to pick up when you’re walking out.” At age 93, she says good genes have helped her longevity and so has her workout routine at the Wellness Center. “I’m lucky,” she says. “But I do think the exercise has contributed to better health.”