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The 81-Year Old Gym Teacher You Can Still Count On

March 01, 2024 4 min read 1 Comment

The 81-Year Old Gym Teacher You Can Still Count On

Tim Minnick, 81, was recognized again this week as officially the planet's oldest gym teacher. He's actually a certified athletic trainer in Texas, which makes him, specifically, the oldest athletic trainer. Below is the story I did on Tim back in 2021 when he was a youngster in his 70s.

Here is an updated video on Tim.

By Ray Glier

His wife, Liz, died in 2007 of cancer and Tim Minnick didn’t have a plan when Happily Ever After was no more. More detrimental than not having a plan, he didn’t have a purpose. Minnick was 65 and had sold his insurance business and retired. He didn’t know what to do with himself with Liz gone. He was briefly married and it didn’t work out. Tim found himself in a place with four walls and no door.

“I really was lost for around eight or nine years,” Minnick said. “I didn’t know what the heck was going on with me. I finally said to myself ‘Look, you’ve got to do something’.”

The one thing Tim Minnick was certain of was that he was fit and healthy and that is what he leaned on after bouncing off those walls for eight years. He had battled back from weight gain, which can happen in times of monumental stress, like the death of a loved one, and became a scientist of a sort on fitness. Minnick decided to get certified as a fitness trainer. He was 72.

With certification in hand, he went to get a job at one of the big box gyms around Austin, Texas.

The first gym wouldn’t so much as talk to him. It was his age, of course. Maybe they thought his body was a disguise. How could a 73-year old be put together that well? Was he going to have clients lift cans filled with cement, like the old days?

The second gym Tim went to at least talked to him, but they never called back. It was more discrimination. The only thing not taut on Minnick are his wrinkles and he can’t do anything about those.
Some of those gyms are vomitories anyway with no bedside manner. Tim didn’t fit.

Minnick kept pushing on the status quo, which is that youthful trainers are the gurus of the industry and the only ones to be trusted.

Minnick walked into Gold’s Gym in Cedar Park, which is north of Austin. A 30-something gave him the time of day in a meeting. Then the general manager talked to him and the GM’s thought process went “ding-ding-ding-ding.” You can’t walk 20 feet these days without bumping into a Boomer.

Gold’s hired him. That was in 2015. In 2020, Tim was certified by the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest active fitness trainer in the world. Minnick will be 79 later this month.

He had purpose again.

“One of the main reasons I wanted to do this, and still want to do this, is I wanted to touch the lives of as many older people as I could,” Minnick said. “The more I looked at the demographic the majority of people 60 and up struggle physically because of injuries, or because of chronic conditions, or they don’t know how to get started.

“I feel very fortunate that I, for the most part, don’t struggle in any of those areas. I want to help people.”

So Minnick had a niche. He does not instruct the fit and able, the low-hanging fruit for a gym savant. He reaches higher for the people difficult to reach, the geezers in despair, the geezers who think it’s too late to do anything about their physical health, or the geezers stricken by illness.

He will not fulminate over their lack of activity. No preaching allowed. One overweight client came in, Tim said, because the man had trouble getting off the toilet he was so weak. Minnick did not immediately drag the man to the weight machines.

“I had him sit down in the chair,” Minnick said. “And then I asked him to stand up. He had trouble getting up. We worked from there.”

Minnick goes for a ratchet affect. He wants to create that first notch, that initial dent in the subconscious of the inert client. Tim’s appearance is a start. He has wrinkles. He’s also been there, the dark side of poor eating habits. a man so dismayed by his wife’s illness and death he gained 25 pounds.

He has looked at grim in the mirror and he can relate.

Minnick sees examples of what best can be described as Sarcopenia over and over. It is a syndrome characterized by progressive and generalized loss of skeletal muscle mass and strength. As much as age, the risk factor of developing Sarcopenia is lack of physical activity.

Minnick doesn’t always have the luxury of working with clients who are rebooting their fitness. Some are in their mid-60s and life’s mortality has hit them upside the head. They have never walked into a gym. They have never lifted a weight. Their willpower has been attacked by parasites of self-doubt or, worse, cancer, Parkinson’s, and heart disease.

And not just heart disease. Minnick has worked with a client who had a heart transplant.

His best story is an overweight man who was diabetic and took drugs for that and had heart issues and took drugs for that. That man, who will be featured in Geezer Jock soon, worked with Tim and now has the doctor’s blessing to shuck the diabetes meds and the high blood pressure meds.

Tim had another client, a woman who was overweight. She fell at home and there was no one home to help her get up. She was too weak to boost her weight up. So she rolled to the pool stairs and was able to get on the lower steps and railing and get on her two feet.

“I worked with her,” Tim said. “She told me she fell again, but was able to get up on her own. She said it wasn’t pretty and I told her ‘No one is taking pictures. Good for you’.”

You see? You get empathy with Minnick, too.


1 Response

Mike lavigns
Mike lavigns

March 03, 2024

Progress not perfection. Satisfaction not recognition. Tim is focused in on one of the most important realities of life after 60. I can’t do everything but I can do something. Progress not perfection. Providing hope and encouragement so that the inner man or woman is more time to grow along with the strengthening of the body. Great job Tim keep it up.

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