Article by Tyler Norman from Life Long Learning December Newsletter
Introducing octogenarian Fred Decker. I have watched Fred and his wife Leslie work out and recreate at West Hills for nearly 20 years. I often see Fred performing exercises that many 20-year-olds I know could not do. One of his trademark moves is the hex-bar squat with 200 lbs. for repetitions, with perfect form. He can also be found bouncing a tennis ball off a wall to maintain his hand/eye coordination. Fred and I sat down so he could tell me more about the habits that he believes contribute to fostering his incredible vitality in his eighth decade.
As a three-sport athlete in high school, Fred had to stay in shape year-round. It was then that he began to appreciate the benefits of being fit, which inspired him to play collegiate baseball. Naturally, Fred had to stay in tip-top shape to perform as a collegiate-level baseball player, so whether or not to stay fit during college was never a consideration.
After college, however, he began a career as an educator and suddenly found himself deconditioned. Three years later, Fred would change career paths and begin what would become a Hall of Fame coaching career. As a coach, Fred wanted to “lead by example,” and would often work out with the pitchers. Additionally, he had a group of colleagues, some legendary in their own right, that would meet up every day to run, play racquetball, or lift weights. “My job made it a lot easier to stay in shape, and then when I retired, I figured the best thing I could do for my grandkids is to be around as long as I can,” he says.
These days Fred does something physical every day. He walks or rides his bike daily, lifts weights two times per week, completes exercises for every muscle group, and likes to do cardio-vascular exercise prior to the weights. For his cardio, Fred walks a mile on the track and then adds 20 minutes on the stationary bike. “I really want to avoid injuries at this point,” Fred says, so listens to his body and tries to push the intensity – but not too far.