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Selling senior fitness

Marketplace Staff Jan 2, 2007

KAI RYSSDAL: Move over, 18- to 34-year-olds. More and more companies aren’t marketing to you. They’re marketing to your grandparents. Selling ’em everything from specially-designed tour packages to video games. The over-50 population has disposable income, after all. Retirees are staying active well into their golden years. And a new crop of health clubs is catering to seniors who want to stay that way. Sounds like a job for Cash Peters.


CASH PETERS: Well, here’s a thing that’s long overdue: gyms for seniors. Whether you’re middle-aged and looking to get fit, or you’re past your prime and held together with pins and duct tape, it doesn’t matter. If you still have a pulse — and I’ll pause while you check…[PAUSE]…fine — then Dr. Sheldon Zimberg and his gang at Nifty After Fifty can help you.

DR. SHELDON ZIMBERG: In six to eight weeks, we can take people who are extraordinarily frail and produce more than a hundred percent increase in upper and lower body strength, improve their flexibility, make them feel better, look better, and be better.

FRANK CARLIN: They feel more confident, they feel safer.

PETERS: Given their age, don’t you worried that they’re just suddenly gonna get woozy and pass out?

CARLIN: No.

PETERS: Or just snap in half?

CARLIN: No, because they’re medically supervised.

By him: Frank Carlin, their physiotherapist. And it’s true: I didn’t see one person who’d snapped in half. Just a bunch of seniors working out and loving it.

MALE CUSTOMER: I do feel better. You know, I do. I look forward to coming doing this.

FEMALE CUSTOMER #1: I enjoy gettin’ up and going.

PETERS: So what’s this machine you’re on? What does this do?

FEMALE CUSTOMER #1: It kinda shakes you up. But I haven’t learned how to work it yet.

PETERS: Apparently you can’t do this if you’re pregnant.

FEMALE CUSTOMER #1: Well, I’m not pregnant, after all. You know I’m 91-years-old.

PETERS: Hmm, you need to get a move on, ’cause that biological clock is ticking.

FEMALE CUSTOMER #1: [LAUGHS]

MAN: I’m not a jogger.

PETERS: You know, I can tell you’re not a jogger. Call me crazy.

MAN: Yeah, I’m not! [LAUGHS]

PETERS: Given a choice between being in a gym and exercising, or sitting in a bar and drinking margaritas, which one would you choose?

FEMALE CUSTOMER #2: Oh please — margaritas! [LAUGHS] I’ll get my exercise some other way.

PETERS: So do you feel better for all of this?

FEMALE CUSTOMER #1: Oh yes, I feel much better.

FEMALE CUSTOMER #3: I do too. I have trouble with my legs and my legs are a lot better.

FEMALE CUSTOMER #1: You should try it.

PETERS: Don’t be ridiculous, woman, I’m pregnant.

FEMALE CUSTOMERS: [LAUGHS]

MIKE MARINO: We actually have people coming in in a wheelchair. We see them progress to a walker, to a cane, and then eventually walking completely unassisted.

Hmm! Miracle worker Mike Marino there. Basically, of course, it’s just a gym.

ZIMBERG: Actually, that’s not the case.

Oh. Well, okay then, it’s not just a gym. You can see a therapist there too. I found this woman lying down with her ankle bandaged. “Oh my Lordy, what happened?” I asked — because I care.

FEMALE CUSTOMER #2: He got too rough with me.

PETERS: He threw you about the room?

FEMALE CUSTOMER #2: Yes, he did.

PETERS: This man is a monster.

FEMALE CUSTOMER #2: I love it. [LAUGHS]

Threw her about the room…

ZIMBERG: Actually, that’s not the case.

I know that. They’re very gentle. They even — and this is great — have a gym “for the mind.” Including a driving simulator to help make sure motorists like 91-year-old Willie Ortham make it to 92.

WILLIE ORTHAM: I drove the car once and I ran into a post, so I didn’t want to do that any more. [LAUGHS] I’ve been driving for 72 years.

PETERS: Well, if you’re driving into a post, maybe you should stop.

ORTHAM: [LAUGHS]

SIMULATOR: Place your right foot on the brake pedal. Put the car in drive.

Well, Willie tried that. And within no time at all, we were going absolutely nowhere.

ORTHAM: I’m in the car, but I’m not going.

[SIMULATOR CLICKS]

PETERS: I don’t think we’re gonna hit anything, because I don’t think we’re ever gonna move.

ORTHAM: I don t think we’re gonna move. I don’t think we’re going anywhere. Go. Go. [CLICKS]

PETERS: Oh, the windshield wipers are going anyway, that’s good. [CLICKS]

PETERS: Shall we just call for a cab? [LAUGHS]

And when we did finally get going, she committed ten traffic offenses in five minutes. I’m serious. Anyway, speaking as a geriatric of tomorrow, I can tell you: “Nifty After Fifty” is a great idea.

ZIMBERG: You’ve got to shape up, Cash.

PETERS: Oh, it’s all about me.

ZIMBERG: You don’t look that good to me, Cash. I mean, you may look in the mirror and think you’re great, you know, but I think you could use a little working out.

Thanks, Doc — I’ll take my chances. But this place is gonna be huge — if the people keep on coming back.

FEMALE CUSTOMER #2: Of course I will.

PETERS: You’re straight down the bar for a margarita, aren’t you?

FEMALE CUSTOMER #2: I can hardly wait. There’s a Mexican restaurant right there.

PETERS: Oh, well, we’ll see you in there in about five minutes.

FEMALE CUSTOMER #2: [LAUGHS]

In Los Angeles, California, I’m Cash Peters for Marketplace.

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