Chest press, cy­cle and tread­mill at 102

Central Leader - - HEALTH & BEAUTY - LIU CHEN

Stand­ing on one leg to tie up his shoelaces and walk­ing up the stairs with­out puff­ing are just some stunts of 102-year-old Len Darr.

Mo­ti­vated by a friend, the How­ick man signed up as a mem­ber at Lloyd Elsmore Park Pool and Leisure Cen­tre last month.

He shows up at the East Auck­land gym twice a week wear­ing a straw hat dec­o­rated with dozens of colour­ful chest pins, greet­ing staff and other ex­er­cis­ers with a bright smile.

On the days that he can’t get a ride with his friend and his doc­tor who also go to the gym, he even drives him­self there.

‘‘I was amazed at how fit he was,’’ the gym’s fit­ness in­struc­tor Chantell Ven­ter said after Darr’s first visit.

‘‘He took the stairs up to the gym [on the first floor], not the lift. He was able to com­plete some ba­sic move­ments, as well as do a good walk on the tread­mill.’’

The tread­mill, cy­cle, chest press, seated row, and lat pull­down are all among his exercise reg­i­men, and he stays ac­tive on the re­spec­tive ap­pa­ra­tus for at least half an hour, Ven­ter says.

Liv­ing with­out any in­juries or ailments, Darr is blessed to have no re­stric­tions in his move­ments.

‘‘I can do any. I can do them all,’’ he says, while wav­ing his arms.

Go­ing to the gym is an en­joy­able ex­pe­ri­ence for the sport­minded cen­te­nar­ian, who used to wres­tle, swing on the par­al­lel bars, weight-lift, swim, run, and play rugby in his younger days.

He still walks reg­u­larly, prac­tises dy­namic ten­sion, and trains with a chest ex­pander.

‘‘I found it ben­e­fi­cial to me. I think it im­proved my knee joints on the run­ning ma­chine. I no­ticed the dif­fer­ence after the first day be­ing on it,’’ Darr says.

‘‘I en­joy all the ex­er­cises. What­ever you do, be happy. That’s the se­cret of life.’’

Darr em­pha­sises that he eats good food, with two ap­ples as break­fast, ba­nana and yoghurt for lunch, and mush­rooms and two eggs as din­ner.

Very oc­ca­sion­ally, he will have some fish and oat bread, but he be­lieves in small por­tion sizes.

As a for­mer ho­moeopath and natur­opath, he’s very con­scious about avoid­ing pro­cessed food and stopped be­ing a ‘‘choco­late ad­dict’’ about 10 years ago.

Darr’s also be­come a celebrity at the gym with peo­ple com­ing up to talk with him after learning of his grand age, and he loves to share his sto­ries, Ven­ter says.

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