by Jann Brown
Janet Ragsdale, 88, and her husband, Ken, 95, work out at the gym with their trainer, Rusty Gregory, once a week. It is not easy.
In addition to their advanced age, the Ragsdales have a number of obstacles to overcome as they work toward their goals of mobility and healthy living. Janet is blind in one eye and uses a walker because polio left her with a nonfunctioning left leg 84 years ago. Ken has recovered from prostate cancer and is a diabetic.
Still, Gregory explains, “The Ragsdales keep on keeping on.” Janet was hospitalized recently for three weeks with the flu, but only one week after her hospital discharge, she was back in Gregory’s gym, Forte Personal Fitness, with tousled hair, her slippers on, and ready to work out. “She was weak and couldn’t get up from the benches and machines without my help and that of a trained caregiver, but we soon had Janet up and ‘running’ again, because she was determined to do so,” Gregory says.
Why do the Ragsdales continue to go to the gym for their workouts when it is so much easier not to go? “Much of it is attitude,” says Gregory. “And some people, like the Ragsdales, seem to be born with it. The rest of us have to learn it and earn it.” According to Gregory, the best way to stay motivated is to set specific, measurable, action-driven, realistic and timely goals (SMART). For the Ragsdales, it all boils down to remembering what is most important to them—keeping their mobility and health at the forefront of their thinking, and using their SMART goals, to help them do so.
Gregory, who holds a bachelor’s degree in commercial and industrial fitness, a master’s degree in kinesiology and certificates as a strength and conditioning specialist, wellness coach and cancer exercise specialist, says, “I love tough people, and I think people in their 80s and 90s can whine about or eat anything they want, because they have already proven they know what is most important— mobility and health—and are absolutely driven to keep on keeping on. Few workouts end without Ken thanking me for helping him extend and enrich his life, but it is not about me— it is about figuring out what is really important in life.”
For more information, call Rusty Gregory at 512-423-8449 or email RustyGregory@austin.rr.com.
Jann Brown, an Austin-based writer, is the former publisher and editor of the Westlake Picayune and a former editorial writer for the Austin American Statesman.