The team that came in second in the Feith Family YMCA’s Summer Shape Up challenge is made up of good athletes and good pals—who happen to have an average age of about 80!
The tie-dyed Team Vintáge T-shirt says it all — “447 years of pure grit and athleticism.”
Team Vintáge, whose members are 77 to 81, came in second out of nine teams in the eight-week “Summer Shape Up” challenge at the Feith Family YMCA in Saukville and eighth out of 100 teams in the southeast region.
In the process, the members — Art Viesselmann, 79, of Grafton, Carol Rosewitz, 77, of Saukville, Dorothy Huber, 80, of Grafton and Jeainnine and Jim Horstman, 79 and 81, of Port Washington — have become close friends and continue to work out together at least three times a week. Trainer Anne Frazier’s age, 51, was added to the total. She was also a team member.
The group spends almost as much time joking and laughing as they do exercising on the treadmills and strength machines.
The winning team was women in their 20s to 40s.
“We gave them a run for their money,” Mr. Horstman said. “We aren’t saying age is irrelevant, but we knew what we were doing and had a point to prove.”
“We kept saying, ‘We aren’t dead yet,’” his wife said. “I’m doing more than I ever thought I could, and it didn’t kill me. We all gave each other the boost we needed.”
Team members got points for doing specific work-outs — such as exercising in the pool or the fitness center or taking a Zumba class — and double or triple points if they did it together.
The weekly challenges were geared so everyone could participate. No weight-lifting was required.
In fact, Vintáge, which was in first place for a long time, beat a group of weight-lifters in their 30s and 40s.
“They said they were going to hang up a bingo sign to distract us,” said Viesselmann, who was nicknamed Sarge because he was the leader and a Marine.
“Art was the one with the whip,” Mrs. Horstman said. “He kept us in line.”
Viesselmann worked out the most — two hours a day six days a week.
Frazier’s workouts also counted, which is why Viesselmann pushed her to join a water aerobics class at 8 a.m. the day she had a 10 a.m. wedding to attend.
“She said she couldn’t do it. I was in the pool, looked up, and there she was,” Viesselmann said.
With Frazier showing up, the team got triple points. She also went to the wedding.
“I didn’t get them motivated. They motivated me,” Frazier said. “I picked them because they work out at the same time and I thought they knew each other. It’s a fun group.”
They have had hip, knee and shoulder replacements, back and heart surgeries and cancer treatments, but keep active so they can continue to be active.
Rosewitz and Huber were on the Port Washington High School faculty at the same time and have been friends for 50 years. They became even closer after their husbands died. They joined the Y eight years ago.
“We thought it would be good for our health to be a little more active,” Rosewitz said.
Huber, who had back surgery and both knees and shoulders replaced, was encouraged by her doctor to join the Y. She became a member of the board of directors and maintained the gardens until recently. Rosewitz helped with the gardens.
The women worked out on their own until they joined the team and pushed themselves to do more.
“I’m so thankful that I’m part of this gang,” said Rosewitz, whose team nickname is Wonder Girl.
Huber’s nickname is Fashionista and the Horstmans are Big J and Little J.
Frazier picked the nicknames and made the T-shirts with her daughter.
Viesselmann’s wife Marjorie, a former public health nurse, joined the Y first. She encouraged her husband to join when he retired from his construction job.
Viesselmann, who had back problems, initially worked with kinesiologist Rick Spenner.
“He helped me a lot, but I had to have a spinal fusion,” Viesselmann said. The surgery was three years ago and he slowly worked up to his six-day routine.
“I started on the bicycle, then the other machines,” he said. “I talk to other people and encourage them. I get on the treadmill, start talking to the person next me and before you know it, I have 20 minutes in. If I’m alone, it takes forever.”
The Horstmans have worked out most of their lives. They moved from Chicago to Port Washington five years ago and joined the Y. Both had to have stents inserted to open arteries. Mr. Horstman, who owned a marketing and communications firm, is also a cancer survivor.
“I had been to Port Washington a couple of times and liked it,” he said. “We were looking for a new lifestyle. We love it here.”
Although the challenge ended, the group works out for two hours Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings.
“There is a social context to all of this,” Mrs. Horstman said. “You get hugs and kisses, thumbs up and high-fives. A beautiful friendship has developed.”
For those who are struggling to keep up a fitness routine, Rosewitz advised, “Have a partner so you have someone you are responsible to. I knew Dorothy was going to be there so I had to go.”
Frazier said setting attainable goals is also important.
“So many people come in and say they’re going to lose 50 pounds in a short time frame and get discouraged,” she said.
“You can’t give up everything. If you can fit eating right and exercising into your existing lifestyle, you have a better chance of success.”
Jeainnine Horstman on the bicycle was surrounded by team members (from left) Dorothy Huber, Jim Horstman, Art Viesselmann and Carol Rosewitz. Photo by Sam Arendt