Monday, November 4, 2013

Age is Just a Number

Robert Piazza was born January 13th, 1947 in Jersey City, NJ, and was married to my mother on June 19th, 2011 in Glen Gardner, NJ.  For the past 3 or so years that I have known him he has remained a physical anomaly to my friends and myself.  I remember helping him move a washing machine one day, and without any notice he hoisted himself up and over the machine as quickly as I would have done just to get to the other side.  This was at the age of 63.  The man remains committed to a lifestyle of healthy eating, regular exercise and solid dedication. This commitment has awarded him with a fitness level higher than most twentysomethings and a physique that most middle-aged men would kill for.  He truly is a testament to the quote, "age is just a number."

I recently had the opportunity to ask him a few questions regarding his journey with fitness, and was able to gain some insight into how he has remained in such good shape.

 1.) How old were you when you began exercising on a regular basis? How old are you now?

 When I was 15 my brother and I erected a pull-up bar in the back yard and we were always doing chin-ups and pull-ups. I lifted weights in our basement and with a couple other guys and we started a weight lifting club after school. From then on my fitness regimen varied from practicing yoga for 12 years to running for 4-5 years. I started working out with more dedication about 28 years ago. I am now 66, 2 months shy of 67.

 2.) What is your greatest fitness-related accomplishment(s)?

At the age of 18 I had the highest score on our 5-man High School Marine Corps physical fitness team. Our team was eight overall out of 13 school districts. At age 32 I ran the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington D.C. with a time of 3 hours 29 minutes. At age 52 I bicycled 75 miles through the 5 boroughs of NYC in about 6.5 hours. Also on weekends I would routinely swim a half mile in the ocean for about 20 minutes.

 3.) What is the key to your success in regards to maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle?

 I refer maintaining a healthy life style as to abiding by the 3 D’s; diet, determination and dedication.

 4.) Explain a time when you found it difficult to stay motivated, and how did you bounce back?

 For several years I was the main chef at a vegetarian restaurant in Washington D.C. I was working very long hours, I was at my heaviest weight and in the worst physical shape. It was depressing. That is when I started running and working out again. Now there are still times when I don’t always feel motivated to go to the gym but I always still do. I always without exception, leave feeling fulfilled and elated. There is no better cure for depression or laziness than continuing with a work out regimenPeriod!

 5.) What is your favorite exercise and why?

 I’d have to say pull-ups. I’ve been doing them for most of my life with tremendous results. I’ve always been complimented for the width of my lats. Haha.

 6.) What are your 3 favorite healthy foods?

 Chicken, salmon and salad.

 7.) What is your ideal cheat meal?


 8.) What would you say, or what piece of advice would you offer to someone who has found it difficult to commit to a healthy and active lifestyle?

 There are three stages of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Stage one is when one first decides to begin a training regimen. He may not enjoy doing it but he knows it is good for him. Then second stage is when he begins to enjoy training and starts to notice improvements in himself. Whether it’s appearance, strength, endurance, etc. The third stage is when he does not want to miss a work out or a training session. It has become a life style and an integral part of his life. That is what one should strive for. It is not always easy and it may not happen that quickly, but sometimes it does.

 9.) If you could change something about your fitness journey, what would you have done differently?

 When I was younger I had thought of competing in natural body building competitions but never pursued it.

 10.) Have you ever injured yourself to the point that you weren’t able to be active? How difficult was it to deal with, and how were you able to reintegrate exercise back into your life?

 There have been several times in my recent life when I have had an illness or injury that prevented me from working out. 11 years ago I had two medical conditions treated within the same year. One in May and another in July. They lasted throughout that year. I worked out for only 6 continuous weeks that year from May through July. My comeback was arduous and discouraging. My entire physique had morphed, smaller arms, wider waist, etc. It took over 6 months to reach the level which I was at prior. 5 years ago I broke my foot and could not walk for months. I was still able to do pull-ups in the basement and I was doing dips on my walker. I was able to return to the gym within four months still in relatively good shape. Less than two years ago I had major back surgery with bone grafts, clamps and screws. Another four months out. I was walking twice a day, doing crunches on my bed and dips on the bed frame. The surgeon advised me not to resume working out for 6 months. I was back at the gym in two months going through my routine with little or no weight on the bars. Gradually I began to slowly add weights until by the time the doctor had advised that I could return to the gym, I was almost at the same level I was at before the surgery. All of this short recovery time I totally attribute to being fit and in good health.

 11.) How have you modified your exercise programming as you have gotten older?

 Each time that I had recovered from those two most recent setbacks I also had to accept the fact that I was aging at the same time. So as one ages one has to concede to reality. I am not as strong as I used to be. I don’t recover as quickly from soreness. The one thing to maintain as one ages is the intensity of his training. Strength becomes relative as does appearance.

 12.) Do you have any goals that you haven’t achieved yet, but plan on conquering? What are they?

 My goal in life is to continue training well into my late years as long as I can remain healthy and to be a testimony to others to the many rewards of staying fit.

1 comment:

  1. Outstanding Rob! Nice article and what a great testament you are to the benefits of staying healthy. -Michael Hafke