If you make fitness a habit, it becomes a character.
Phyllis Sues didnâ€™t just make it a habit, she built a career out of it. The 95-year-old Los Angeles fitness enthusiast had been dancing since she was 14. After her first ballet lesson, she already knew what she wanted to do with her life.
Since then, sheâ€™s carved out a niche for herself in the world of dance, having performed various dance genres around the world. Sheâ€™s also a recording artist with many albums to her credit.
She tried out trapeze flying at 75, yoga at 85, and tango at 90. Now at 95, sheâ€™s writing her first book on healthy living, and she can still do the splits and handstands.
In a chat with Los Angeles Times, Phyllis wants the world to know that a fit body and a balanced diet are the keys to long life. She admits that the powerful genes running in her family are also a plus.
Her mom died at 94 and her sister is hale and hearty at the ripe old age of 100. Phyllis talks about her early life, her dance life, her routines, and her special diet.
75-year-old trapeze artist
As a little girl, Phyllis didnâ€™t take ballet classes or grow into dancing.
â€œI took my first ballet lesson at 14,â€� She told L.A. Times. â€œAfter, I knew I was going to be dancing for the rest of my life. I did some Spanish dancing, performed at Europe and South America and on Broadway.
When I was 75, I read an article about trapeze flying. The person who wrote it said when he was out there and on the bar, he was really present for the first time in his life.â€�
Most people would imagine that all a 75-year-old woman wants to do is sit out on the porch, read a book with a furry brown cat purring at her feet. Perhaps she might want to try a new recipe or go to Karaoke with her friends.
Anything but trapeze flying. Phyllis Sues did the unimaginable. She flew off a 30-foot high platform at her first attempt, and she did it marvelously well. She admitted being terrified as she climbed up to the platform, but she just kept going. Thatâ€™s one of her philosophies of life: Keep going.
85-year-old yoga enthusiast
Phyllis says Yoga was extremely challenging for her. At first, she thought it was impossible to do a handstand right. She was 85 when she first tried out yoga, and within a short while, she pushed beyond her limits and fell into a daily routine.
â€œI do hatha yoga every morning for an hour. Itâ€™s not an exercise, itâ€™s a practice,â€� Phyllis says. â€œYou learn to take your time. I can now do all those difficult poses like the peacock.
The first time I saw my instructor do it, I remember thinking it was impossible, your whole body balanced on your hand. But I wanted to get it right, so I kept practicing and woke up one morning and tried again and all of a sudden, I was up.â€�
90-year-old tango dancer
Phyllis says yoga paved a clear path for her to tango, and sheâ€™s loved it more than anything sheâ€™s ever done. She took her first class in Burbank L.A.
â€œI told the instructor I wanted a private lesson a week, but after the first one, I made it three a week. After my instructor moved away, I went to see Marcos Questas and his partner Maria as they rehearsed. I couldn’t believe what was going on, it was so gorgeous. I took lessons from them three times a week.â€�
Injuries and health conditions
Phyllis says 95 is not an easy age. Her extreme love for fitness has caused her some injuries, but she insists things could have been worse if she wasnâ€™t so active.
The pros definitely outweigh the cons for her. â€œI have rotator cuff problems in my shoulder, a ruptured bicep, meniscus in the knee and neuropathy in my feet.â€�
She manages all her conditions perfectly well, and they donâ€™t stop her from staying fit and in great shape.
A balanced, low-carb diet is indispensable.
Who wouldnâ€™t want to be able to eat anything they want at 95? Phyllis has never weighed more than a 100 pounds in her life. One of the benefits of living a life of exercise.
She eats whatever she likes, â€“ moderately though â€“ including ice cream every other night. She carefully balances her diet to suit her health needs, making sure to keep the carbs low and the proteins high.
â€œBreakfast is a slice of cinnamon raisin toast with Irish Kerrygold butter, peanut butter and sliced bananas, and an espresso. I like El Pollo Loco chicken breast or thigh, nothing else with it, and I have it with a salad.
I love mashed potatoes with butter and heavy cream. And every night, I alternate between HÃ¤agen-Dazs Coffee and Vanilla Bean ice cream. Mostly I eat alone, and I find I eat even less when Iâ€™m by myself.â€�
â€œTo be sedentary is terrible, so move.â€� â€“ Phyllis Sues
Phyllis still works out every day in her living room, doing 20 minutes of stretching and one hour of yoga. She believes one must never stop learning new things, no matter how old you get. â€œKnow how to face challenges, because there are so many out there.
Receive them and respond to them, and learn something every day, a new language, a musical instrument; it will keep you all there. Iâ€™m so driven and I donâ€™t give up; no matter how difficult something is, I will accomplish it.â€�
Kavi Daswani. 2018, December 28. Hereâ€™s your 2019 fitness inspiration: Sheâ€™s 95 and is doing the splits. Retrieved from https://www.latimes.com/health/la-he-phyllis-sues-is-fit-at-95-20181229-story.html
Official website (2019). http://www.marcosrutatango.com/
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