Age is just a number: Elders share why it’s important to hit the gym

As Dawna Lee takes a break from carrying weights, Micheal Yeong Yoke Keong is doing pull-ups just a few rows away.

While such a sight is common in gymnasiums, Lee, 71, and Yeong, 67, put many fitness enthusiasts half their age, to shame.

They are just some of the familiar faces who regularly work out at Enrich Fitness at the D’Star Arena Complex along Jalan Taman Putra in Ampang.

“I can’t live without the gymnasium,” exclaimed Lee, a homemaker and mother to a 28-year-old son.

Lee started out hiking, but soon realised that it wasn’t the complete workout that would help her in her golden years.

“Walking, hiking is good, but it’s not enough. As we age, our muscles shrink, so it’s important to carry weights,” she added, as she placed a dumbbell on the floor.

“I’ve been coming here since 2016 and have been a regular since. I try to talk to as many people as possible, letting them know that a good workout at the gymnasium is really important.

“Some of them agree. Others say they have no time to exercise. All I can do is encourage, but it’s really up to the person to be active and to work out.

“If I can do it, why not you?”

Lee was quick to add that a healthy diet was equally important.

Echoing similar sentiments is Yeong, a former electrical engineer who was active in bodybuilding during his younger days.

“From bodybuilding, I switched to badminton. I was always active until I injured my arm at the age of 34 and couldn’t be active in badminton anymore. I then started running,” said Yeong.

“But running alone wasn’t enough. So, what I do now is, on top of working on the treadmill, I also carry weights.

“Sometimes, I go out in a sleeveless shirt and youngsters will look at my arms and say ‘Wah uncle main gym ka?’ (Uncle, you hit the gymnasium?),” Yeong said in jest.

Yeong, who is a father of two sons and a grandfather of two grandsons, agreed that a balanced, healthy meal was important. But he insisted that it was important to work out every muscle in the body to ensure that one aged gracefully.

“Health is so important, yet many people take it for granted. I find it a waste,” he added, after completing 10 pull-ups with ease, before taking a short break. He then continued with another ten.

Encouraging the elderly, differently-abled to sweat it out

It is common to see Lee, Yeong, and several other senior citizens working out when the gymnasium opens its doors at 8am. This is because they can walk in and use the facilities for free.

The same applies to those who are differently-abled.

Enrich Fitness owner K. Krishnakumar said the move was to encourage those above 60, and the physically-challenged, to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

“How much damage can they do? It’s not like they are carrying 100kg or 200kg, or using the treadmill for hours. In fact, our staff are ever ready to provide them with assistance should they need guidance,” said Krishnakumar, who is also president of the Gymnasium Entrepreneurs Association of Malaysia.

“But the beauty of gym-goers is that no one is a stranger, and everyone is willing to help each other out, beginners or the experienced.”

Krishnakumar adopted the same policy at his other centres in Sungai Long, Subang, Cheras, and Seri Kembangan.

In fact, Enrich Fitness is said to be the cheapest gymnasium in town. Gym-goers are charged RM7 per entry, or RM5, if they paid via Boost.

Exercising should not be expensive, insists Krishnakumar. Image: Twentytwo13

When asked if this came at a price, Krishnakumar said: “It’s all about quantity. I have an average of 300 walk-in members daily. Not all of them use electric-based machines.

“I am still able to make some profit, so there’s no need for me to raise the fees at this point in time.”

He admitted that one has got to make money to do charity.

Another way of raising funds is by organising events. And bodybuilding enthusiasts will be happy to hear that the widely popular bodybuilding competition, Mr Enrich, is making a comeback.

“It has been an annual affair with the most entries recorded in 2019, before everything was stopped due to the Covid-19 pandemic. As we are back, we will resume the ‘Mr Enrich’ competition next year,” he added.