When Lloyd Black arrived at Anytime Fitness in Semmes, Alabama, he inspired a few surprised glances. The 90-year-old came in wearing his personal favorite workwear and wanted to join the gym; he’d been struggling to complete his household tasks and thought exercise might help him build strength and reduce his aches and pains.
Once he began working out there, Black’s dedication was an inspiration to the whole gym. In January 2020, they gave him the member of the month award.
“He's been showing so much progress and over the past year he's been coming faithfully three times a week or if not more like every other day,” Ashley Seaman, general manager of Anytime Fitness in Semmes, who nominated Black, told TODAY. “We were going into a new decade and I wanted it to be a special member of the month this time. So I felt like he would be the perfect one.”
Plus, his exercise outfits really grab people’s attention. The 91-year-old wears overalls in the winter and work coveralls in the summer.
“The reason I wear them is very simple: I don’t have much hips,” Black, a retired principal from Semmes, joked to TODAY. “If I get too active, I have trouble keeping my pants up.”
The jumpsuits have another advantage, he said: “They are very comfortable and warm.”
When Black first started exercising he couldn’t walk on the treadmill for too long before he became exhausted. Over the past year, he went from huffing and puffing through 10 minutes to easily walking for 30 minutes and he found a way around the treadmill’s challenging technology: Black asks Seaman to get it to “run and I jump on it.”
As his cardiovascular abilities have improved, Black started weight-lifting, too. He does leg presses and some upper arm machines. While it took a lot of practice and a little assistance, Black now helps other members.
“He's just a friendly soul,” Seaman said. “It's cute because he will go to the other silver sneakers, the elderly members, and he'll show them how to use the machines.”
While the older members like having someone their age help them navigate the gym and its complicated equipment, everyone eventually talks to him.
“He talks a lot and people notice his overalls,” Seaman said.
As a result of his work at the gym, Black finds it easier to mow the seven acres of grass at his house and tool around in his woodworking shop. He experiences less daily discomfort and moves more easily. He said the only health issue he’s facing is his struggle to hear.
Even with all its positive impact on his life, Black doesn’t exactly love the gym.
“The fitness center is something you don’t necessarily enjoy, but you enjoy having done it,” Black said. “You realize how much it helps. That is what I get out of it.”
Since he received the member of the month honor, Black’s story has gone viral with many praises for his efforts. Seaman wasn’t surprised.
“He says that, even before his feet hit the floor, he will do his bicycles (exercises) in the bed and it helps them to get up and do things in the morning,” she said. “(He shows) that age is just a number it doesn't mean you can't get into the gym and it's never too late.”
Black said he likes that he’s inspiring others, although that wasn't his intention: “If it helps others, I’m glad to do it."