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It Doesn't Have To Be Complicated

April 20, 2024 4 min read 1 Comment

It Doesn't Have To Be Complicated

You can't see Rocky's face, but you can see the weight he is lifting off the ground. At the end of this story is a picture of Rocky pre-Rocky Balboa (the movie). His story and three others in this newsletter item are how to respond to crisis.


By Ray Glier

I have never seen this declaration under Cause of Death.

Did not take control of his/her health.

If it wasn’t so rude and degrading, it could be listed as a cause of death for any number of people.

So Geezer Jock® hits pause this week on stories about extraordinary older athletes to remind people over 60 to set an alarm, especially if surgery is looming (more on that in a moment).

Many regard taking control of their health as fine print. They took care of the major things, like not smoking, losing some weight, not drinking (too much), and at least doing some walking, but the nitty gritty we deem insignificant…until it’s too late, or almost too late.

The nitty gritty is a sustained raised, safe heart rate during exercise. It is building muscle. It is bearing down on diet.

Tim Minnick, 81, the world’s oldest fitness trainer, according to Guinness World Records, told Geezer Jock® some people get freaked out by a health crisis and start exercising sufficiently. Tim had a client who had a friend that fell. The man was in poor health to begin with, but the injuries from the fall have made life miserable because the man was not fit to rebound.

“I don’t want to be like that the rest of my life,” Tim’s friend said.

So Tim’s friend lost that arrogance we all have about knowing what's good and bad for us. He folded up his ego and established a new exercise level and is now a fitness dynamo. Life is better.

That’s how it happens, but it shouldn’t take a crisis.

I asked Tim for some short stories of people who “took control of their health.” Minnick touched on three clients who faced a challenge and a fourth client who has always stayed in control.

Take three more minutes here and learn from them. Watch this video of Tim talking about his life's work and you will see the exercises he is leading are not hard to accomplish.


Cheryl and Bob, who train under Tim in the Austin, Texas area, both had to do “pre-hab” work before surgery for spinal stenosis.

Cheryl, 71, had rods put in her back last October and Minnick says she has “recovered almost completely.”

Bob, 74, has made a “rapid recovery” from his surgery.

“They open you up in these surgeries and the damaging impact to the body can be substantial,” Minnick said. “It’s very invasive, but they did the work ahead of time.”

Tim worked with each of them about two to three months before the surgery. He had them strengthen their glutes and core muscles.

“Their weight was ideal. We worked so they didn’t have muscle imbalances and they were as strong as they could be," Minnick said. "They were both hard workers at the gym. The goal is to shorten recovery time.”

Tim said Cheryl is even stronger now and does planks that go on and on.

But it is not just what you do in the weeks before surgery. It’s what you do in those 10 years before, when surgery can be more invasive because of age. The National Institutes of Health is pretty clear that lifestyle and behavioral factors elevate risk of surgery. 

Collectively these (factors) reduce the body's resilience to manage the physiological stress of the operation. The physiological challenge of major surgery has been likened to running a marathon. By intervening in the preoperative period to modify behavioral and lifestyle risk factors, the ‘physiological reserve’ of the patient is enhanced to buffer the surgical stress response.”

In the case of Rocky Eilertson, 65, a surgery such as spinal stenosis five years ago could have devastated him. Now, after five years of working with Minnick, Rocky is more stout and can deadlift 365 pounds. He doesn’t have to be afraid of invasive surgery.

Rocky had never been in a gym before he reached 60 years old. Not once. He has lost over 50 pounds. Just as important, he has lost nearly all the meds that went with being obese and unhealthy.

Eilertson is almost off the cholesterol and diabetes meds because he comes to the gym three times a week. There is nothing flash about Rocky. He’s just a guy who weighed 270 at 5-foot-10 and understood it was not healthy to carry around that much weight. The man with the heroic name “Rocky” did the heroic thing.

“He knew he was training for his life,” Minnick said

Then there is the Tim client, Kathy, who is 77 and has been training for her life for decades.

She is a retired university professor with a PhD in Nursing. She worked in a hospital emergency care department and then taught and developed nursing curriculum for other colleges. She has co-authored books that are used in the field.

“Kathy is in the gym almost every day because she understands what taking control of your health really means from a scientific perspective,” Minnick said.

Kathy was a competitive figure skater, as well as a ballet dancer. She is all about maintaining her flexibility and takes a mobility class with Tim four days a week.

“You have to make a conscious effort and be proactive about muscle loss and weight gain as you get older,” Minnick said. “Take control of your health, you have to do that, and I’m real aggressive on that front with myself and people I work with. I sold out for it.”

Please! share this story and support Geezer Jock®. This newsletter is the best storytelling on the internet about older athletes, or just older people who exercise. 


This is the same guy lifting all that iron in the picture above, only five years earlier.

This is Tim with his certificate from Guinness of World Records. He is proud of his life's work with Geezer Jocks and other older clients. 

1 Response

John J.
John J.

April 20, 2024

I look at trying to stay in good physical condition the same as doing the periodic maintence on a car. You either take care it it now and have minimal issues, or let it go and pay a steep price later. In my case, doing the work before I had surgery (according to the surgeon and the physical therapists) was probably one of the smartest things I could have done before I got on the table.

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