Senior spins wheels — the healthy way

The Tribune

She could have spent retirement spinning her wheels. Instead, Inge Telzerow lets her bicycle worry about that.

“It’s never too late to get into physical fitness,” the 62-year-old Mesa winter resident said.

Telzerow will go for the gold next weekend in 5K and 20K cycling events at the 16th Arizona Senior Olympics. Opening ceremonies were Saturday at Arizona State University.

Events continue at locations across the Valley through March 7. All are free and open to the public.

Arizona Senior Olympics is a nonprofit organization that receives most of its funding from corporate sponsors. Created in 1984 by the Phoenix Parks, Recreation and Library Department, it seeks to get seniors involved in fitness-related activities.

At least 3,000 athletes are expected to compete in 27 events.

There are no residency requirements. Participants must be at least 50 years old and pay a small entry fee per event.

Telzerow first entered the Senior Olympics scene in 1996, taking home three silver medals and an invitation to train with a San Diego cycling team. In the following years, she won a total of three gold and three bronze medals in the Arizona Senior Olympics.

At the 1998 National Senior Olympics in Tucson, Telzerow won four gold medals. She already has qualified for the 1999 National Senior Olympics, to be held in October in Orlando, Fla. All she lacks, she said, is a sponsor to provide her with a better bicycle.

The German-born retiree also teaches aerobics to other residents of the Monte Vista Village Resort. Unlike her cycling events, the water and chair aerobics classes are not competitive, Telzerow said.

She said she developed chair aerobics after she was in an automobile accident in 1996.

“I was disabled for quite a long time, so I couldn’t continue my water aerobics,” Telzerow said. “I was sitting in a chair and I had to do something, so I developed a program called chair aerobics — sitting in a chair and exercising.”

Telzerow now leads four classes of chair aerobics per week in addition to water aerobics for Monte Vista residents. She also teaches classes back home in the Canadian province of Alberta.

“It’s amazing after six months when I leave how much I have accomplished,” she said.

Telzerow said she encourages people in her classes to compete in the Senior Olympics.

Glenn Dody, 75, spends the warmer months in Colorado Springs, Colo. He and his wife, Dorothy, spend winters at the Brentwood Southern Mobile Home Park in Mesa.

Dody, a U.S. Marine Corps and Air Force veteran, runs the 400- and 800-meter dash in the Senior Olympics. He said he started running in elementary school and has continued because it keeps his quality of life running high.

“I’m a physical fitness nut,” he said. “Some people like to swim. I just happen to run — you tend to do what you do best.”

Dody, who taught physical education to high school students, said he hopes he can inspire younger people to work harder to stay in shape.

“I’ve never put my exercise and my conditioning second,” he said. “It’s always been a primary thing to me.”

Telzerow said while she teaches mostly seniors, she wants younger people to value their health and take steps to maintain it. She said she hopes they will invest more in their health than in “houses or fancy cars.”

“Because if you are not healthy, you don’t enjoy anything after you retire,” she said. “If you can hardly walk, what do you have to look forward to?”