The following is a brief profile of one of the athletes I interviewed for my upcoming book “Lessons for a Strong, Healthy Life from 50 Athletes Over 50; Dream It, Live It, Love It.” If you would like to see future profiles via email as well as get updates on the status of my book, please subscribe on this site.
Gene GeBauer is a 75 year old tap dancer who lives in Denver, Colorado and who danced professionally on Broadway in New York City for many years. Gene played basketball in junior high school, but quit the team when he discovered dancing. He’s forever grateful to Mr. Dimmit, the basketball coach, for supporting him in that decision. Gene discovered dancing when his doctor suggested it to Gene’s mother as a way to help his recovery from rheumatic fever. He remembers enjoying the feeling of moving in patterns to rhythm, as well as the excitement of getting to dance with the girls. After his performing career ended, Gene became a dance instructor, which he still does today. This past summer, Gene celebrated his 75th birthday, and past students came from as far away as New York City to celebrate the occasion and show their appreciation to him.
I included a dancer in my interviews with 50 athletes over 50 due to several people asking me whether dancers are athletes. After talking to Gene, it is clear to me that dancers can be considered athletes if they approach dancing the way athletes approach their sports. The physical demands are equal to those of many sports and the health rewards similar. After my book is published early next year, I plan on taking tap dancing lessons because it looks like fun and like something I can do for the rest of my life.
I recently realized that I have not been clear enough in explaining the 50-k Active/Athlete Challenge in my writings and websites. There are two points that appear to keep people from joining; they think the 50-k Active/Athlete Challenge is just for people over 50 years old and they can’t figure out what is in it for them. On the point concerning being only for people over 50, the Challenge is for ALL AGES. It was initially inspired by interviews with over 50 athletes, but the Challenge is for all ages, since we all can benefit from a more active life. I changed the 50-k.net website to make this point more clear. As for what is in it for those who join, below is what I recently posted on the main page of www.50-k.net.
“I was talking to someone earlier today and I asked if they had joined the 50-k Active/Athlete Challenge. Their response to me opened my eyes. They asked me, “why should I?” I’m so close to and enthusiastic about the 50-k Active/Athlete Challenge, that this response initially puzzled me. That is, until I looked at this website and realized that I really don’t make the benefits of joining very clear. Once I explained the Challenge to this person, they “got it” and joined. I realized then and their that I will never be able to explain this personally to 50,000 people. In the upcoming weeks I’ll be doubling down on making this message much clearer. This article is a start.
The benefits of joining the 50-k Active/Athlete Challenge are two-fold; for yourself, as well as for the good of the nation and the world. By joining the Challenge, you improve your own health, as well as the health and quality of life of many.
First, a couple facts that may surprise and shock you. Over two-thirds of adults over the age of 20 in the United States are overweight, while over one-third are obese. Overweight and obesity are known to contribute to many diseases, so I won’t spend any time on why this is a problem and assume it is obvious. The technical definitions of overweight and obese are hard to grasp, so I hope the following will give you a visual of what this means.
I’m 5 foot, 9 inches tall and weigh 160 pounds. For me to simulate being overweight, I could strap 35 sticks of butter around my waist. Actually only 28 would go around my waist once, and the remaining 7 I would hold in my hands and my mouth I guess. If you are still having trouble getting a visual, if I stacked those 35 sticks of butter on my head, I would stand almost 20 feet tall. Anyway, it’s a lot of butter.
Now to simulate being obese, I would need 169 stick of butter. These would go around my waist 6 times, which would actually be longer than my torso – hard to picture? OK, I figured that 169 stick of butter, if glued or taped on my body would cover nearly 50% of my skin area.
As a side note, since I’m a pretty lean guy, the estimates above may actually be conservative, meaning that it underestimates the amount of butter I would need! Also, none of the over 50 athletes I interviewed for my book, were obese and maybe 1-2 overweight.
Second fact; the average 75 year old in the United States suffers from 3 chronic illnesses and is on 5 prescription medications. To give you a visual, I figure that in a year, they will take enough pills to fill a gallon bucket. In ten years, enough to fill a good sized fish tank. Very few of the athletes that I interviewed for my book, had any chronic illnesses.
The point is, that if you live the average, sedentary life that most of us Americans do, you will carry a lot of butter, and eat a lot of pills. Seriously, the average American is unhealthy, which has an affect on their quality of life and on the quality of life of the country, and maybe the world.
Join the Challenge for YOU: The mission of the 50-k Active/Athlete Challenge is to inspire, support, educate, and reward people who want to lead a strong, healthy life by becoming more active. If you want to avoid the unhealthy state of being average, join the Challenge and be spectacular. My vision is that the members of the 50-k Active/Athlete Challenge will come to the 50-k.net website to get motivated by its content, interact with a community using the forums and blogs, learn from featured posts and links, and get rewarded through contests and other forms of recognition. The Challenge will also be sponsoring events that members can take part of in person, furthering the support and community.
Join the Challenge for OTHERS: In 1998, the United States spent about $80 billion on obesity related health care. In 2007, we spent over $2 trillion on all forms of health care. Suppose that we all got active and eliminated obesity and also reduced our yearly health care spending by 10%. This would amount to a savings of almost $300 billion a year! Think what we could do with a budget like that to promote health and joy. A hope that I have for the 50-k Active/Athlete Challenge is to get our attention (especially the media) turned to HEALTH REFORM, as opposed to health care reform. If we had more HEALTH REFORM, I believe we would need less health CARE reform.
I will be working to take this message further and strengthen it on this site and in my communications in coming weeks. I’m hoping that those who considered joining before, but wondered what was in it for them, now have a clearer picture and will join the community we are trying to establish.”
I hope that if you like what I’m trying to do with the 50-k Active Challenge, you will not only join, but help me recruit people to a more active life by becoming a foot soldier for the Challenge and ask everyone you know to join. Point them to the 50-k.net website, so they can sign up and view the various slide shows, videos, and posts. I can’t do it alone and I really believe that together, we can make a difference.