Centenarian, Fitness Enthusiast Shares Secrets to Lengthy Life

Joe Weaver, a 100-year-old resident at Edgemere, says growing up on a farm helped keep him in shape, but he credits the Cooper Fitness Center for helping him realize the importance of cardiovascular health. (Staff photo: Kellie Spano)

Joe Weaver, a 100-year-old resident at Edgemere, says growing up on a farm helped keep him in shape, but he credits the Cooper Fitness Center for helping him realize the importance of cardiovascular health. (Staff photo: Kellie Spano)

For most people, retirement and the onset of old age signify a time to become less active. But Edgemere retirement-community resident Joe Weaver, who turned 100 on Tuesday, doesn’t believe in slowing down or making excuses.

So what does he attribute to his longevity? Weaver says that a healthy diet, active lifestyle, and strong faith are his secrets, along with good genes.

He begins every day with 30 minutes of floor exercises, works out three times a week in the community’s gym, and does water aerobics twice a week. Breakfast every morning is a bowl of oatmeal — even when he dines out.

“I’ve been eating oatmeal since my childhood, when we ordered it from Sears in big 15-pound bags,” Weaver said. “Oatmeal is like a drink of water to me.”

Growing up on a farm in Alabama, Weaver was always active, but he cites Dr. Kenneth H. Cooper with inspiring his devotion to aerobics. After retiring in 1978 and moving to Dallas, Weaver joined Cooper Fitness Center and helped develop a seniors program. While at Cooper, he became “hooked on Tai Chi,” and spent years perfecting the martial-arts practice he would later teach to his peers.

Calling septuagenarians “youngsters,” Weaver said that physical fitness is possible at any age, as long as one remains disciplined and determined.

“Sometimes people get to be about 75 years old, and they think it’s too late for them to start or try to get strong,” Weaver said. “But it’s not — if they have a positive attitude and stay committed, they’ll be surprised to see the progress they make.”

When Weaver moved to Edgemere more than a decade ago, one of his first tasks was becoming the fitness chairman, said Edgemere’s lifestyles director, Lorraine Kendrick-Rose. Shortly after, at the age of 88, he started a Tai Chi club and taught a large class for almost eight years, until neuropathy forced him to give up the practice.

Since he could no longer stand for extended periods of time, Weaver started an aquatic-fitness class that he led for a couple of years; he still gives lessons to a few residents.

“The main thing about Mr. Weaver is he does not quit,” Kendrick-Rose chuckled. “Go-ers don’t ever retire.”

Most recently, Weaver founded the “90 Plus Club,” for “any resident willing to admit they’re 90 or above,” Weaver said with a wink. Believing that keeping the mind active and fostering relationships is just as important as physical health, Weaver is thinking about also starting a Scrabble club in the fall.

“I’m a highly motivated guy, and I like to share any abilities I have with others,” Weaver said. “I’m a people person, and I try to reach out and meet new residents. The connection just happens.”

Always striving to lead by example, Weaver inspires his peers in a subtle and unassuming way, Kendrick-Rose said.

“Joe’s attitude is one of helping other people,” said Kendrick-Rose. “He motivates people in a very kind way, but he doesn’t let anyone give up — he expects the best of you.”

Weaver, who will celebrate his birthday with two parties, said that he has “a million friends,” who have played a large part in his life. Ever the optimist, Weaver plans to repeat the party in five years. If not, he jokes, he can be contacted at weaver.spirit716.heaven.    

By Michelle Saunders Jul. 20, 2013 | 10:00 am | No Comments | Comments RSS
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