Staying fit forever: ‘Even people using walkers or wheelchairs are exercising’ February 27, 2020 10:58

Manfred “Manny” Becker of Newington is holding a 17-pound kettlebell and stepping laterally on a white line painted on the floor of the gym at the Jerome Home in New Britain.

“This is what’s known as the alcohol test,” he quips.

Manny Becker, center, exercises with the help of exercise physiologists Angela Duval, left, and Maquita Sellers, right, director of Good Life Fitness at Jerome Home in New Britain.
Becker works out with exercise physiologists Maquita Sellers and Angela Duval every Tuesday and Thursday for 30 minutes. They put him through the moves any gym denizen will recognize, including the bird dog and squat jumps. The session ends with a plank, which Becker can hold for two minutes. 


No big deal, right? Think again. Becker is 90.

When he had a hip replaced 11 years ago, Becker initially came to the Jerome Home for rehabilitation. Then, he segued right into working out there, one of eight locations offered in Hartford Healthcare’s Good Life Fitness program.

“You have to be active,” Becker says, imitating a hunched-over person thumbing a cell phone. “Everyone is sitting in front of a computer all day. You have to move your entire body.”

Becker lives with his wife, Margaret, in the same house where they raised their three children. He still grows vegetables, pulls weeds and tidies up the yard, noting that the kettlebell in the gym weighs about the same as a full watering can.

He helps care for Margaret, 91, who recently had her second stroke, but is improving due to physical therapy. The couple employ a live-in health aide.

After retiring from his position as an MIT-trained mechanical engineer at Fafnir Bearing (now Ingersoll Rand), Becker remained active by participating in a bowling league, fishing and volunteering at the Holy Spirit Church in Newington. He loves to read mystery novels and non-fiction books about nutrition.

“The world is a beautiful place; enjoy it,” Becker says.

At the Jerome Home, participants can attend two weekly 30-minute sessions of essentially personal training under the supervision of an exercise physiologist for $50 a month. Upon entering the program, each person’s fitness is assessed and they are given a list of exercises to perform. And Sellers or another trainer is keeping a watchful eye.

“We have people of all mobility levels, and three or four clients who are over 90. Even people using walkers or wheelchairs are exercising,” Sellers says.

from the Hartford Courant