They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but Charles Eugster is living proof that the adage isn’t always accurate: the 91-year-old bodybuilder confessed in today’s Guardian that at 85, he found himself getting overweight and unhealthy, and decided to take up weight-lifting. For those of us who cringe at the thought of doing anything but cardio and stretching, his story makes our excuses look pretty lame.
Eugster didn’t spend his whole life on the couch; he was an active rower on-and-off until the age of 82. But he says that when he was 85, he had a crisis:
I looked at myself in the mirror one day, and saw an old man. I was overweight, my posture was terrible and there was skin hanging off m where muscle used to be. I looked like a wreck. I knew I was supposed to slow down, but I’m vain. I missed my old body and wanted to be able to strut across the beach, turning heads.
So instead of letting age run its due course, he joined a bodybuilding club and started lifting weights. When he signed up for his first championship in 2008, he was the oldest one there by 20 years, but scored higher than some of the men (and all of the women). I’m not aiming to compete in championships of any sort now or in the future, but the moral of his story applies to all:
People have been brainwashed to think that after you’re 65, you’re finished. We’re told that old age is a continuous state of decline, and that we should stop working, slow down and prepare to die. I disagree. To me, a 65-year-old is young. I turn 92 this year. It is a frightening prospect – the law of averages is against me, and, yes, one day something will happen and that will be it. But until that day comes, I’m going to carry on working on my abs.
Add to that recent research that says happiness actually peaks in the 80s, and that’s a pretty good reason to get to the gym as often as you can, at whatever age.
Photo: Gian Paul Lozza/The Guardian