Chest press, cycle and treadmill at 102
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.