Playing for Fitness Gold

Posted in #AgeWell

Written by Liz McHale

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“It is like winning the lottery. Every once in a while a door opens for you.”  That’s how David Marchant feels about the Pasadena Senior Games.  The bronze medal winner says the games were the entry he needed to move into a new stage in his life.

When he competed, David didn’t think of himself as a contender. He had struggled with his weight in his teens and twenties, but he managed to lose almost 120 pounds.

Later in life, with the stress of caring for his mother who was ill, and keeping tabs on other family members, he lost his focus, and much of the weight came back.

About five years ago, he took aim at the 90 pounds he had gained. He started playing racquetball, and after a while he was back on the court to pursue his favorite sport, tennis.

He asked for a lesson from tennis coach John Letts, who caught him by surprise.  “What are your goals?” he asked. David replied that he wanted to “Go for the gold.”

John advised him to join the Pasadena Senior Games where seniors compete against others in their age group. David, who is in his 70s, was surprised when he won several of his tennis matches. His winning streak continued, and he came out of the games with a bronze medal, and a spot to play in the National Senior Games in Birmingham, Alabama the next year.

Now he’s focused on improving his skills and fitness.  “My goal is to be as good as I can possibly be,” David says. Even if he doesn’t win, he says he’ll be happy because in preparing for the games he’s already increased his physical fitness tremendously. He says, “The benefit is not winning a gold medal.  The benefit is in the journey.”  

He urges other seniors to start their own journeys by going back to the physical activities they loved as kids.  Whether it’s swimming or volleyball, he says the important thing is to start moving, and have fun.

“Being active is good for the soul, as well as the body,” says Annie Laskey, PSC’s Director of Special Events, who coordinates the games. She says, “It’s hard to be depressed out in the sunshine, lunging for a tennis ball.”

All older adults are invited to compete in this year’s Senior Games in Pasadena this April through July. There are more than 20 different events from power walking and tennis, to team sports including basketball, softball and volleyball.

David says there’s no reason for anyone to worry that their skills are rusty, because they’ll compete against people in the same age group who probably have similar concerns.  

The Pasadena Senior Center offers exercise and fitness classes to help everyone get ready for the games. It also has connections with senior basketball, softball and volleyball teams. David urges all seniors to try their luck in the games.