September 26, 2007

Body By George


George Fletcher wants people to know there's really no good excuse not to get in better shape.

"I'm too old." He's 62, and a bodybuilder.

"I'm not athletic." Other than a few years in the military, Fletcher had never been in a gym until he decided to get in shape at the age of 32. He was out of shape, sitting behind a desk every day, and decided he wanted a change.

"I'm too sick to work out." He had a heart attack last year, due to stress from working three jobs. He got better (quit the other two jobs), and got back in the gym.

"I don't know how to get started." Fletcher will show you how, if you can work up the motivation to sign up for the one-on-one personal training he offers in a no-frills studio near 21st Street and Sheridan Road.

"I can work with even the most out-of-shape folks," he said. "I had one lady who could barely get out of her car to get here."

On the bodybuilding circuit, folks call him the "Oklahoma Antique."

"It has nothing to do with age -- it's because of longevity," he insists.

And he has no plans to put away the training weights anytime soon.

Fletcher's studio is lined with massive bodybuilding trophies, including 1987 National Physique Committee Mr. Tulsa and 1986 Amateur Athletic Union Mr. Oklahoma prizes. The entrance is lined with photos of himself through the years, greased and posing (check out that mustache).

He started training back in the days when steroids weren't that scandalous -- most bodybuilders used them. He tried them for only a little while, he said.

"I could tell they worked, but I figu red I could do better on my own," he said. "It was a waste of money."

He recently returned from a national bodybuilding competition in Pittsburgh where he placed seventh among 60- to 69-year-old men. In the Oklahoma championship in June, he won first for men over 60.

His secret? Good old-fashioned exercise. He does about 15-30 minutes of treadmill, Stairmaster or elliptical machines several days a week, and he lifts weights for about an hour five days a week.

Right before competition, the workouts increase. But unless he's adhering to a strict pre-competition diet, he just tries to eat healthy, he said: Very little fried foods, light on the dairy and processed foods.

As proud as he is of his accomplishments, he's prouder of the other bodybuilders and individuals he's trained over the past few decades. This week, he flew to Phoenix to watch a friend compete for a national natural bodybuilding title. Fletcher helped him train, starting from his teenage years.

Fletcher has helped clients lose weight, train for sports and become prize-winning bodybuilders. He opened his own gym about two years ago because he wanted to pass along all his fitness knowledge before he finally retires, someday.

"I want other people to know they can still get into (fitness) too," he said. "And they can have a better quality of life, and feel better about themselves."

Most of his clients are middleaged, but he's trained everyone from ages 10 to 75.

"Most of the older people are afraid to go to the gym, but I want them to know that they can," he said. "All you've got to do is get out and try. Everybody can do it."

Cary Aspinwall 581-8477

[email protected]

Originally published by CARY ASPINWALL World Scene Writer.

(c) 2007 Tulsa World. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.