Jim Dick fibs a little to fit in with his friends. The 71-year-old's leg isn't actually bothering him. In fact, he's perfectly healthy.
But aches and pains are all that people his age seem to talk about.
He laughs when he tells the story, but his health is even more impressive than he lets on. His personal trainer, Skyler Brooke, bragged on his behalf.
“He's not on any medication,” Brooke said enthusiastically.
Nine in 10 Americans older than age 60 take at least one prescription drug, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It's so common that at a recent checkup, a nurse asked Dick what medication he took that kept his blood pressure so normal.
He said his good genes help, but he is also an avid exerciser.
“I'm trying to keep up with him,” said Dick's 67-year-old training partner, Tom Lorsbach.
The two college professors — Lorsbach still teaches, Dick is retired but works part-time on campus — work out together every Friday at the University of Nebraska at Omaha Health, Physical Education and Recreation (HPER) building. The weight room is quiet during the summer — the men were two of fewer than a dozen people exercising on a hot afternoon in June.
They began their workout with a shoulder press for flexibility, the first of a three-exercise circuit. They moved to the ground for planks, looking like twin statues as they held the position. Then squats — the exercise helps them get in and out of furniture. Most of Dick's friends are limited to sofas with higher seats.
For the men's next circuit, they play catch. Jim stands on the rounded half of a BOSU Balance Trainer — one side rests flat on the ground, the other resembles half of an exercise ball — while his trainer tosses him a weighted medicine ball. Sometimes it is to his chest. Other times he has to reach up, down or to the side to receive the pass. It's an exercise in coordination and balance.
When Dick finishes, it's Lorsbach's turn.
They each lift and carry a kettlebell the length of the floor, as if they're holding a briefcase. Then they return to the weight section for rows and a single pull-up.
Lorsbach did two.
The two men try to keep up with each other.
Lorsbach runs 20 miles a week, has finished five marathons and can knock out 25 push-ups during his third set.
He added weight training to his regimen about two months ago. Like Dick, he lifts three times a week: once by himself, once with his workout partner and once one-on-one with his trainer.
“I started weight lifting because I realized running is only part of the exercise routine,” he said.
Lorsbach admitted that the machines, dumbbells and benches were intimidating when he started. Now he walks through the gym as though he owns the place.
He feels stronger and sees his progress away from the weight room, too. On a trip to Maine last month, Lorsbach lifted his luggage and placed it in the overhead compartment without issue.
Both men also do cardio exercise separately a few times per week.
Dick, who has been lifting for several years now, also sees a difference. He is down a pant size, can move “better, faster and easier” than most people his age and was one of the fittest guys at his 50th high school reunion.
“I like to think about exercise as something I have control over to fight the aging process,” Dick said.
Dick and Lorsbach finished their workout with mountain climbers, lunges and push-ups.
The exercises they do are no different than those done by many of the students on campus. Brooke, the 24-year-old graduate student who trains Dick and Lorsbach, sometimes challenges the two men to a workout competition. He writes down a list of exercises, then the men divide up the reps and make it a goal to complete them by the time Brooke does.
The workouts are friendly, but the friends' competitive streak doesn't hurt.
“You can cheer for each other, root for each other,” Lorsbach said. “You can recognize when the other person is setting a new mark.”
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