“Fitness is Ageless” for Pasadena Weekly’s Health Supplement, “At Your Best”

‘Super Senior’ Harry Sneider’s Advice for Sound Body and Mind.

February 2008

Harry Sneider lifts and breathes fitness.

Not only is he in great physical shape—last year, at 66, he was named a “Super Senior” by the Pasadena Senior Center for his commitment to physical well-being—Sneider has also worked with some of the best.

He has trained athletes such as Olympic track-and-field medalist Dwight Stones, Indianapolis 500 winner Danny Sullivan, even the late chess champion Bobby Fischer (a healthy body helps concentration).

But Sneider also works with normal people, some of whom do extraordinary things, like the octogenarian power lifters who compete in the Pasadena Senior Olympics.

“My expertise is not just barbells and dumbbells,” he says, “but human beings and how to bring them joy, happiness, and productivity.”

Total Gyms, lifting machines, weights and trampolines are the focal point of Sneider’s Family Fitness, the charming home/gym Sneider shares with his wife, Sarah, who is certified by the American Council on Exercise.

“It may not be 24-Hour Fitness with 1,800 bikes or six floors but this is an intimate, non-threatening setting. And when you combine Sarah and I together we have almost 75 years of experience training people,” he says.

In addition to numerous Pasadena Senior Olympics gold medals, Harry and Sarah were also awarded the Spirit Alive award for the most enthusiastic Senior Olympics couple. They are training athletes for several events in the next Pasadena Senior Olympics, from June 7 to June 22.

Sneider has held 10 world records in the bench press, peaking at 450 pounds at age 61.

But fitness, as he mentioned before, isn’t all weights and measures.

“Consider yourself very valuable as a human being,” advises Sneider, who also holds a degree in theology from Ambassador College. “You were made in God’s image and you have a purpose and meaning in life and that includes taking care of your body. There’s a joy in activity and in developing your body that God has designed for you to be all that you can be.”

Nutrition is essential to good health and fitness, say the Sneiders. They regularly eat five to six servings of fruits and vegetables each day and also promote chicken, fish, whole grains, flax seed oil and B Vitamins. Avoid preservatives, chemicals, and heavy meats, they advise.

Goal-setting is also vital, says Sneider, because achieving them improves quality of life and possibly its length as well.

“Generally, people who work out three to four times a week live seven to 10 years longer so it’s worth the effort,” he said.

Sneider also serves as a consultant for the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports and has been friends with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for decades.

The Sneiders exercise for about 30 minutes a day doing various activities like weight-lifting, sit-ups, conditioning, cycling and a system they developed called Resistance Rebounding, which uses a small trampoline and hand-held weights. Resistance Rebounding, they say, reduces pressure on the joints, which is important for Sneider, who injured his hip as a young boy.

“It’s fantastic for all sports, and its great for seniors for balance and coordination,” he says.

For general fitness, Sarah stresses movement, saying that even walking 10 minutes three times a day will improve anyone’s health.

“We’re a society that’s very busy right now and a lot of times we’re sitting in front of computers or doing a lot of sitting and we need to find a little time to walk or stay active,” she says.

Harry says apathy and quick fixes are equally detrimental.

“Apathy lead to laziness and getting in a comfort zone. Fitness requires you to get out of your comfort zone and many people are afraid to try that because it seems like its going to be painful.

But when they begin to move and exercise they see levels of potential they never saw before. By the time they get into a fitness program and improving their health, their self-image and confidence picks up,” he says.

To get up to the next level, “It’s going to take some pain and repetition.”

The Pasadena Senior Olympics are for people 50 and over and are hosted by the Pasadena Senior Center at various locations. For more information, call (626) 685-6754.

To contact Sneider’s Family Fitness for training, call (626) 355-8964.