When Leo Goodman renewed his licence plate sticker a short while ago, he chose the two-year option. The clerk’s response, “Aren’t you optimistic!” As Leo tells the story his smile and snicker are life-size, and his “laugh it off” philosophy to living long is on full display.
Born in the Ukraine on March 15, 1915, Leo is celebrating his centennial birthday this weekend. On Friday morning, staff and members at Garnet A. Williams Fitness Centre – where Leo’s been a member since 2000 when he moved to Vaughan from Toronto’s Kensington Market – are throwing a star-studded party fit for the celebrity he is. His love of the friendly people at the centre is what keeps him there, and they love him or worship him, jokes Leo, who is a Royal Canadian Air Force veteran.
So how did Leo end up as a fitness phenomenon? It all started in 1967, when a career change left him with more time, which he decided to spend at the local YMCA. Fast-forward nearly 50 years and Leo won’t skip a day at the community gym.
His daily routine includes a 5 a.m. trip to McDonald’s for a coffee and read of the morning paper…and sometimes a chocolate muffin. He then heads to Garnet A. Williams Fitness Centre for 6 a.m. to start his 180-minute workout routine: a six- to seven-kilometre walk around the indoor track, cycling on the stationary bike, rowing on the rowing machine and bar exercises. And that’s just his morning. The father of two, grandfather of four and great-grandfather of seven spends his afternoons playing racquetball at his condo and evenings doing stretches to maintain a strong back.
Although Leo refers to his diet as “give me anything,” he does watch what he eats, sneaking only a few of his favourite “bad” foods, like french fries, when tempted. He takes an Aspirin every day, but swore off vitamins in 1992.
So what health and wellness advice does Leo have to give? “Walk as much as you can. One mile today, 1.10 miles tomorrow. Just do something!” says Leo. “Especially older adults, who sometimes aren’t encouraged to be physically active. Unless they belong to the Vaughan Fitness Centre community.”
Visit the City of Vaughan’s website at vaughan.ca.