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Entries in Dr. Kenneth Cooper (2)

Monday
Feb102014

Cooper Fitness Center goes big with renovation

Photo courtesy of Cooper Fitness CenterCooper Fitness Center in Dallas must have been thinking of the saying, "Everything is bigger in Texas," when it decided on a renovation of its club.

The 18-month and $7.5 million project spared very little, expanding the facility to 50,000 square feet. Among the amenities include an indoor cycle studio, a mind/body studio and private Pilates studio, as well as new locker rooms with saunas, steam rooms, whirlpools and custom lockers.

There is also new equipment, a three-lane indoor track, basketball court and two heated 25-yard pools.

"We have accomplished a lot since we first opened Cooper Fitness Center more than 40 years ago, starting with proving the health benefits of exercise, and engaging people in exercise that works for their lifestyles," said Kenneth H. Cooper, founder and chairman of Cooper Aerobics, who is known as the "Father of Aerobics. "With the opening of our newly-renovated, top-notch facility we are equipping the next generation to live better, longer, more productive lives."

Check out the press release on the Cooper Fitness Center website for more.

Monday
Jul192010

Inspirational ‘Ironwoman’

By Patricia Glynn

“We do not stop exercising because we grow old; we grow old because we stop exercising.”

So proclaimed Dr. Kenneth Cooper, the “father of aerobics” and founder of the esteemed Dallas, Texas-based Cooper Aerobics Center. It’s a decidedly accurate assessment, backed by scientific research. Unfortunately, it’s also one that far too many people elect to ignore. They are, they frequently bemoan, “too old to work out” (among other reasons) and so their bodies, unused, progressively atrophy.

Alternatively, there are those who do heed the warning. By embracing Cooper’s philosophy and remaining active, they successfully stave off the ravages of time and retain superior health.

Harriet Anderson, a grandmother from Northern California, falls, without a doubt, into the latter category. Of course, this 74-year-old former school nurse who, in her spare time, teaches children how to knit, hasn’t simply defied the so-called norms of aging. She has not merely avoided the many ailments so common to her cohort. Rather, by keeping fit, she has built an enviable physique and lives an enthusiastically vigorous life. She has also achieved feats that would be considered extraordinary, even for those who are significantly younger: she has, for example, competed in the Ford Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii. And she didn’t just compete once—she has raced the challenging course 18 times!

While it might seem incomprehensible for an individual who is nearly eight decades along in her life, Anderson, this past October, once again swam 2.4 miles through the crisply cool ocean waters of Kailua-Kona Bay in Hawaii. Then, after emerging from the waves, she hopped on a bike for a 112-mile spin over hilly terrain and across black lava fields. Continuing on, further still, she covered 26.2 miles in 90-plus-degree heat, the pavement blisteringly hot underneath her feet.

Her 18th Ironman was an amazing accomplishment, to be sure. Yet, what’s even more astonishing is that she completed much of it after having broken her clavicle mid-way through the course. Nearly 80 miles into the biking segment, a fellow competitor knocked against her and Anderson, to her dismay, found herself on the ground. “He didn’t say ‘on your left.’ He just bumped right into me and I went sliding down,” she recalls. While she didn’t know the full extent of the injury at the time, what Anderson did know was that she wasn’t giving up. Injured in body, but with her doggedly determined spirit still firmly intact, she brushed herself off and, after only a 10-minute delay, climbed back in the saddle. She rode another 30-plus miles before transitioning to the marathon portion of the race. This interval would have been an opportune time to visit the medical tent to solicit a proper sling, but Anderson had a race to finish and little time to spare. She opted, instead, for a makeshift fix: a volunteer haphazardly taped her wounded arm against her lean torso. She was, at that point, unable to run. But she was, despite the pain, unwilling to quit.

Eventually, after walking most of the way in the pitch dark, motivated to keep moving by the promise of a warm bowl of chicken soup waiting at each successive aid station, Anderson crossed the finish line. It was 11:53 p.m., just seven minutes before the final deadline. She’d done it yet again. “I was determined to finish,” she says. 

Soon after, Anderson was whisked off to the emergency room. X-rays revealed she’d suffered a broken right clavicle. Yet, while the injury would restrict her training, it certainly wasn’t going to stop her. “At least I’ll be able to Spin,” she informed the attending physician. Her husband, Gary, has learned to appreciate such resolve. “She’s a pretty tough lady,” he told Ironman organizers. “If she’s determined to do something, she’ll just do it. She wasn’t going to sit around and wait.”

Anderson, who has since recovered, might be considered an anomaly, an unusually fit exception, if you will. However, she is, in reality, a testament to the power of fitness. She works out regularly, and she works out hard. Intense dedication has gotten her to where she is. In fact, she rises at 4 o’clock each morning, eager to further hone and care for the body that has served her so well. Twice weekly, she participates in Pilates and Spinning classes. Tuesdays and Thursdays find her in the pool, swimming, and in the yoga studio, on the mat, to enhance her flexibility. Additionally, upwards of three times per week, she runs, hitting the trails close to her home for 14-mile outings. Exercise has been good to her and so she keeps on moving.

Surprisingly, fitness wasn’t always a part of her life. Though she had played tennis in high school, it was only after her children were grown, after they’d moved out on their own, that she first joined a gym. There, she lifted weights and ran. Racing wasn’t something she’d seriously considered until another member suggested she sign up for a 10K. From there, she attempted a half-marathon. Then, she decided to tackle the Honolulu Marathon. And the rest, as is oft said, is history. This year, in October, she intends, for the 19th time, to be at the starting line in Kona.

Anderson truly belies the norm and demonstrates that, as we advance in years, we do not, as society teaches us, need to settle into a rocking chair. We do not have to sit idly by as our bodies betray us.  Movement, as she shows us, can help keep us vital and strong, and it can allow us to exceed the expectations typically associated with aging. For Anderson, age is, in actuality, nothing more than an inconsequential number.

And whether it’s our age or some other limiting, preconceived thought holding us back, Anderson’s achievements, coupled with her astounding motivation, ought to serve as a reminder that we’re capable of so much more. And if your club’s membership (or even you yourself) faces doubts in regard to their ability, perhaps Anderson’s inspirational fortitude will serve as a much-needed catalyst. It’s never too late to join the game (or the gym). And it is possible, in spite of what we might falsely think, to hit it out of the park—further than we ever imagined. Exercise can help us do it.

So, what will your 74th year be like? 

- Patricia Glynn is associate editor of CBI magazine and can be reached at p.glynn@fit-etc.com