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?


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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

There’s a lot happening in the world.  Through it all, Marketplace is here for you. 

You rely on Marketplace to break down the world’s events and tell you how it affects you in a fact-based, approachable way. We rely on your financial support to keep making that possible. 

Your donation today powers the independent journalism that you rely on. For just $5/month, you can help sustain Marketplace so we can keep reporting on the things that matter to you.