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93-year-old couple heroes to other gym rats

by Michael Vitez
THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER

PHILADELPHIA - Moe drives to the gym every morning, but Fay always takes an extra set of keys because once he locked his in the trunk.

They prefer gray sweats to spandex, conversation to headphones. They are so unfashionable that they barely perspire.

Yet they inspire.

Moe and Fay Lurie are both 93. They go to the gym almost every day and are great examples of so many trends in healthy aging: The benefit of exercise is long established, as is what some aging experts call "the protective value of marriage."

"They're our inspiration," said Sonjia Stanton, 58, as she passed Moe and Fay on the track at Bally Total Fitness in Voorhees, N.J. "They start out slow, but by the end, they're zooming."

Moe and Fay met in 1941 at a dance. Both were almost 30. Moe, 5 feet 3, had his eye out for a short girl who could dance. On their first date, Fay was so happy, so cheerful, so sweet, Moe asked her: "Is this an act? " "No, it's not an act," she insisted. "That's how I am." After 62 years of marriage, Moe says, "That's how she is." "We're always together," Fay says. "We like the same food. We like the same exercise. And we like each other." Fay has a simple explanation for their longevity as a couple: "I just ignore the bad stuff." After walking, Moe and Fay hit the mats and stretch. Fay lies on her side, raises her top leg to the sky - perpendicular to her bottom leg on the floor. Then she raises her top arm to touch that top leg. Always with a smile.

Moe is next to her, doing stomach crunches.

Fay rolls on her back, brings her knees to her chest. She rocks forward and back to gain momentum - rolls onto her shoulder blades, and lifts her legs straight and skyward like the Eiffel Tower.

Fay is 107 pounds, the same weight as the day she graduated from high school. She has always worked out and persuaded her husband to join her once they married.

Moe also is the same weight he would have been when he graduated from high school - had he ever gone. But he was poor and went to work after eighth grade. He was a typesetter, retiring 30 years ago.

Moe is 115 pounds, his stomach as flat as a countertop.

Fay picks up 8-pound barbells, one in each hand, and swings them back and forth until she has enough steam to hold them high above her head.

Men stop and watch.

"She's great, and that's from an old gym teacher," says Jerry Shusterman, 71.

Fay enjoys the attention but wants to keep her perspective. "I didn't start yesterday." Both Fay and Moe have cut red meat out of their diet and avoid fatty foods. They eat oatmeal every morning. "What's the use of living long," she says, "if you can't feel good." Moe lifts 25-pound barbells. His biceps, if not Alps, are at least Poconos. Moe sits at a universal weight machine and pulls 72 pounds toward his chest - three sets of 15 pulls each. Fay waits her turn. "I do it, too," she says. "But not as heavy. More ladylike." She pulls 36 pounds a few times. She will be 94 in August. "To tell you the truth," Fay says. "I'm enjoying my life."
 
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