In today’s post, I want to hopefully give you a little inspiration about the value of exercising and eating right. I want to tell you about the amazing Noel Johnson, the self-proclaimed
“Dud at 70, a Stud at 80”. This is his story.
Noel Johnson was born on July 7, 1899 in Heron Lake, Minnesota. He was always physically active, and as a teenager he ordered and followed courses by both Farmer Burns and Eric Liederman. Although he was excellent wrestler, he soon learned he had a real talent for boxing. He would box professionally under the moniker “Battling Blue Eyes” until he was 33 years old.
Once he retired from boxing he got married, took a job with Texaco, and started raising a family. He was living the American Dream, which meant too much food, alcohol, cigarettes and little exercise at all. As the years flew by he began to develop a series of medical conditions, including a heart condition, high blood pressure, gout, arthritis, bursitis, and hemorrhoids. This is how he describes his situation from his own book, “A Dud at 70, a Stud at 80”.
“When I was working for Convair in 1939, I weighed 130 pounds and was in relatively good health. Looking back now and with the advantage of hindsight, I expect my body began to really deteriorate about the time I stopped fighting professionally. There was no longer the urgency to keep in shape, and our lifestyle, the average American “good life”, included smoking, eating anything and everything I wanted, and a lot of social drinking. When I retired in 1964, 25 years later, I weighed 170 pounds and was in bad physical condition.
The result was inevitable. There is just no way you or I can ignore the basic laws of nature and not wind up in the same shape I found myself in at age 65. Lack of exercise, coupled with nutritionally empty dead food, alcohol, and tobacco, made me a complete dud. Although Zola and I had many interesting things we really wanted to do after I retired, we never got to do any of them. Neither of us had the energy or the get up and go to leave the house and enjoy our plans. Out of the mainstream of life, we were retired from everything.”
Soon after his retirement, his beloved wife Zola suffered a series of strokes and by the time he was 70, Noel was alone. However, he wasn’t about to give up on life or love. This is how he describes what happened next, and how he turned his life around.
“I finally did something I had been carefully avoiding for a long time. I thought. I used the intelligence the Creator had given me. My mind was as rusty and unused as my body, but I persisted and gradually ideas began to form.
I was very clear on what I didn’t want. I didn’t want to be a burden to my children. I didn’t want to be bed ridden and helpless. I felt it was still my personal responsibility to take charge of my own life and health, and I didn’t want to turn that responsibility to anyone else.
First, I stripped down and looked in the mirror. All the classic signs of aging and ill-health were there. I was overweight, with a bulging gut, lack-luster eyes, with unused muscles hanging slack. I looked defeated. But I used to be a fighter, and the thought “defeated” stirred something in my ego. Here I was, about to give up and take the count. I decided then and there to beat the bell and come out swinging. They can’t count you out when you’re trying.”
Once Noel made up his mind, he decided to take action. He went to his local health food store and was introduced to the works of noted physical culturist Paul Bragg. He began exercising and eating right. Before long, every physical malady that had bedeviled him for the past 30 years simply vanished. Newspapers all over California ran articles on him with titles such as “Superman Is Studied at UCD” (University of California at Davis). He won 3 gold medals in running at the Senior Olympics that year in the marathon, the mile, and the 10,000 meters.
Not content with these amazing successes, Noel decided he wanted to resume boxing. In order to do this, however, he decided that he needed to dramatically increase his punching power. In order to figure out how to do this, he decided to fly to Hawaii and meet with Paul Bragg himself. At the time, Paul Bragg was 92 (18 years older than Noel) and the picture of perfect health. Bragg recommended that Noel take up isometric training, and showed him some specific exercises to increase his punching power. These worked so well that Noel won the gold medal in Boxing at the senior Olympics that year. He actually knocked out a 40 year old in his final bout! Pretty amazing, if you ask me.
Noel’s story demonstrates something I have long suspected. Most of the afflictions we commonly associate with aging are actually due to lack of activity. What’s more, it’s never too late to turn things around. Most people are physical wrecks by the time they’re 30. Noel turned things around when he was 70, and enjoyed 25 more years of real LIFE before he passed on at age 96. He even got on a Wheaties Box! If that doesn’t inspire you, I don’t know what will. Like Noel wrote, they can’t count you out when you’re trying. Start trying today.
Yours In Good Health,
PS – If you would like to try some of the isometric exercises that Noel used to get in fighting shape, check out my review of Paul J O’Brien’s isometric training course “7 Seconds To A Perfect Body”.
PPs – If you want to read more about Noel Johnson, this is his obiturary from the New York Times
My Bodyweight Workout Log
Here’s what I did yesterday:
50 Tai Chi Waist Turners
Isometric stomach flattener
Isometric stomach Vacuum
50 Hindu Pushups
50 Hindu Squats
3 minute back bridge
16 elevated Pike Pushups
Arm Routine from “7 seconds to a perfect body”
As regular readers know, I had knee surgery sometime ago. It’s finally starting to feel good, so I’m happy to be able to add the Hindu Squats back into my routine. I’m taking it easy here, as you REALLY don’t want to mess with our knees, but so far so good.
In the next Bodyweight Exercises Blog
I’m going to answer some questions from the old mailbag. Until then!
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