Story Matters

People say that style matters, but to me, story matters. From Aesop’s Fables to the tales my friends recount around the dinner table, anecdotes are a time-honored way to communicate that has proven to be both powerful and engaging.

I’ve included over 125 real-life stories in this book. Many were written by reviewers who read a chapter, got enthusiastic and shared what they’ve done to improve their fitness and health. As one reviewer said, “You have a lot of useful information here, and the individual stories are great because they carry more impact than ‘thou should.’”

Some of my favorite stories for this book came from friends of friends. My friend Art sent the first seven chapters to his friend David, whom I’ve never met. David liked it, wrote a terrific story and asked me to send the draft to his friends Sandy and Ann. They also liked it and ended up writing four stories themselves in addition to providing critical comments on all the chapters.

Since then, my wife Deb and I have become friends with Sandy and Ann. Stories create ties and are how we, as humans, relate.  In Fitness Beyond 50: Turn Back the Clock, some anecdotes provide ideas to form a support group, a key ingredient to success for many. Others may be that tipping point to lead you to think, “If he or she can do that, there’s no reason I can’t.” I doubt every story will resonate with you, but I hope that a few hit home.


Pat was the inspiration for my writing this book. Her encouragement got me started and her insightful comments and stories about herself and her family contributed to the quality of the book. Here’s her personal story of how she got motivated and stays that way. Read her story:

Len’s Story

Art, my friend of over forty years, was a key reviewer of the book. He asked if he could send the manuscript to his paddling friend Len, who had a few health problems. Len read it and told this story of his transformation as a result. Read his story:

Reinventing Caroline

Caroline joined a special program at our SW Florida fitness center that was a direct outgrowth of my writing this book. The program has changed her life — for the better — and she’s become a big fan of the book. Her story:

The Artificial Man

Contact sports in high school and college take their toll on lots of athletes. Many give up as a result; they lead a sedentary life with resulting poor health. Tom is a story of the opposite — a player who’s overcome many obstacles to stay fit and healthy. His story:

Betsy’s Story

Several years ago Betsy had her Great Awakening; she realized that she needed to take action if she was going to lead a long, active and healthy life. Here’s her story:

No Braces, No Canes

I’m sure somewhere there’s someone who’s had more health problems than Bob, but I’ve never met him or her. Bob, now seventy, has had hyperthyroidism, ulcers, chronic kidney disease and a heart attack that required two stents. That’s just for openers; three years ago he was diagnosed on Christmas Eve with a very aggressive form of prostate cancer for which he had radiation treatments. That same year he contracted Type 2 diabetes. He told me this story of what he’s done to lead an active, healthy life:

Peggy’s Story

Peggy lives in my community in SW Florida. In 2003, the Fitness Center staff asked her if she would like to work with them on a special assignment. She said yes — after all, how could she not want to improve her physical condition with the help of these pros? She told this story:

Marc’s Journey

I hired Elizabeth to be my copy editor; she did a fine job. She liked the book a lot and asked me to send the manuscript to her brother-in-law, who was inspired to write this story. He’s a classic example of what can be done with a bit of determination. Here’s his story:

Developmentally Disabled

While some people are already familiar with the well-publicized merits of exercise that prevent heart disease, diabetes and other health problems, the affects of fitness on the brain are less commonly recognized. Like muscles and organs, the brain requires exercise in order to function at its best. Exercise can even help the developmentally disabled. Ann has a developmentally disabled brother, now fifty-eight. She passed on this story:

Milton and Rose

Milton Friedman was one of the most influential economists in the twentieth century. This is a story of a chance meeting with him in Hawaii.

11/11 and 50/50

I met Sally at a Happy Hour in our community in SW Florida. A native of Minnesota, she was visiting her brother, a friend of mine. Her mother Betty, a retired English teacher, was a reviewer of my book. Sally’s a bundle of energy and enthusiasm and very fit. She told me this story of how, with the help of a support group of one, she got that way.

Mike’s Yo-Yo

I met Mike on a ride with our local bike club in Bucks County, PA. He’s fifty-one years old, five feet nine inches tall. In December 2002, he weighed in at 224 pounds. He’d spent more than a dozen years on yo-yo diets; he’d lose it and put it right back on. He told me this story of his dedication and determination to get fit and stay fit.