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You are never too old to be a trainer!
At 83 years old, Brooklyn, N.Y., native Rose Biscardi is more deeply committed to fitness than most people her age.
Her interest in exercise and good health was evident as far back as the 1960s, when, as a stay-at-home mom for her two sons, Biscardi would flip on the TV in the morning and work out under the direction of fitness icon, Jack LaLanne.
Today, Biscardi takes part in fitness classes five days a week; sometimes twice a day. Impressive, to be sure, but then there’s this: Biscardi is the instructor.
“Nobody can believe that I’m going to be 84 in September,” Biscardi said. “They say they want to do what I do.”
And her admirers are not relegated to senior status. Her grandson recently told her, “I hope I got your genes.”
Biscardi became an ISSA-certified trainer 10 years ago, with a concentration in helping people 55 and older stay active and fit. One of her areas of expertise is in exercise for people with arthritis. She held classes in senior centers and in library meeting rooms around the area of Long Island she now calls home.
For someone who has always seen age as just a number, there was no hesitation when she responded to an ISSA ad offering fitness certification.
Having recently retired from her position as a school secretary, Biscardi recognized a perfect opportunity to stay active, continue her own fitness regimen and help others. And she’s continued to do so far beyond the age when most people have dialed back on any serious physical activity.
Biscardi, all 4-feet-10, 109 pounds of her (“I used to be 5-feet tall,” she said, wryly), readily admits that she loves to hear people compliment her on how good she looks and that she looks so much younger than her age. There’s nothing wrong with being happy with the way you look, she reasons. Especially when you know it doesn’t come by accident.
“Keeping fit is good for your self-esteem,” Biscardi said. “Exercise is health. I have a lot of friends whose routine is to go shopping, go out to eat, go shopping. Now I have some of them in my classes.”
Most of Biscardi’s “students” are 55 or older; the oldest is 92. Those who are limited by what they can do on their feet practice chair yoga. Biscardi stresses to all that the important thing is to keep moving any way that you can, and she has no shortage of willing participants. In some cases, they just needed a little guidance and encouragement.
Biscardi’s classes have as many as 40 people, and it’s not unusual, Biscardi said, for participants to be lined up at the door waiting to get started when she arrives.
Biscardi related how one of the women she teaches surprised her doctor when she went in for a checkup. The woman easily made her way onto the examination table, which prompted the doctor to ask her what she had been doing that has allowed her to move so well. It was all about working with Rose, she said.
But Biscardi doesn’t have to look far to see people who basically have given up on physical activity and exercise, robbing themselves of a more fulfilling life.
“I see it all the time,” she said. “People can’t even get up out of a chair without a struggle. You’ve got to keep those legs moving. Age doesn’t mean anything; life is there for you. When you stop moving, you’re in trouble.”
As for the role ISSA has played in her success story, Biscardi said, ““It’s a great support group. I find the articles that they make available very interesting. ISSA serves as a good backup as you go about teaching your classes. It offers the chance to learn, and to add to it.”
So she keeps teaching, exercising and learning with no end in sight.
“I feel great,” Biscardi said. “I’m hoping to continue to do what I do.”
LaLanne, generally regarded as the country’s first celebrity fitness expert, led workouts well into his golden years. His show aired from 1953 to 1985. He died in 2011 at the age of 96. Biscardi has done well following LaLanne’s lead, including the importance of a healthy diet.
Asked about what she remembers about those old TV shows, Biscardi recalls a lot of stretching, a lot of kicks and abdomen work. But most of all, she said, “It left me in great spirits.”
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