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More Ageless Muscle: Horst David, 75-Year-Old Elite Gymnast 

Jurgen Reis, our climbing friend from Austria, has alerted us to a gymnastics exhibition by Horst David on video (4:45 min.). Horst is one of Europe’s most successful senior gymnasts. He personifies the capabilities of a well-trained 75-year-old body. If you’re feeling old or out of shape, perhaps a little discouraged, you’ll be uplifted and inspired by this man’s performance.

When Jurgen visited with us earlier this year (2011), he brought a video of Horst David performing in the community training center in Dornbirn, Austria, where he and Horst see each other most mornings. Horst performs at a level which would be remarkable for someone half his age. We knew immediately that we must help Jurgen show everyone what this man can do—and what is possible for those who keep training and challenging themselves.

 Jurgen and Horst share the same training facilities in Dornbirn.
(Photo courtesy of Jurgen Reis)

Jurgen also provided background information that helps explain why Horst is able to do what he does. Simply put, he started early and never stopped.

Horst was born July 15, 1935—into a family of gymnasts. Gymnastics was a family tradition; everyone trained and competed. Horst began competing when he was seven. He often rode his bike long distances to competitions. (Jurgen explains that it was difficult to be a gymnast in Dornbirn at that time, because all buildings, including gymnasiums, were co-opted for the war effort).

Later Horst had a break in his competitive years because of work and other obligations, but he still trained and competed when he could.

In his 20s and 30s, he was on the road as a handy man; he could repair and fix everything in a house. In his travels he met and trained with other gymnasts; they were one big family, and these were some of the best years of his life. After that, when his family was established and his house was built, he was able to get back to serious training and competition. He won many local or regional championships over the years.  

He is now one of the very best senior or master gymnasts in Europe. Audiences love seeing him compete in national and international competitions. He’s a crowd favorite, because of his age and skill level; few can match him.

Jurgen admires his energy, and how he is mastering his life as a widower. He takes care of the house, while a family member works. “I have stayed at this house and it is very clean,” Jurgen tells us. “Reminds me of your house, everything clean and in order.”

Horst never studied training methods (he learned by observing and doing) or nutrition. He eats what makes him feel well. “On weekends I make and eat sweets,” he confides. On Saturdays, a rest day, he cooks for his entire family; eight people eat with him. On Sundays he also rests. 

He has never done jogging or aerobics, except for biking. He only does endurance exercise for a reason. As noted earlier, he biked to gymnastic competitions when he was a boy. Now, he goes to a nearby forest to chop wood. 

Jurgen says Horst is like a grandfather to the young people in the gym.  “He does not teach the children, but if you ask him he will tell you suggestions, and he talks in the breaks. He motivates himself by being around those of 7-8-9 like he was when he was young or 13-14-15, they inspire him. He is there around me when I am doing my chin-ups. He is a good training partner. He is there 2 times a day when he is out of shape, 5 days a week. When he is in the competitive season and in shape, he is in the gym up to four times a week, one time a day. He trains in a professional way, in a competitive way. He knows what to do. He knows what it takes to compete successfully. He says, I don’t hurt myself, I don’t make any mistakes, and I want to be as good as I can be.”

“He is one of my idols when it comes to life success,” Jurgen says.

Like Roger Bannister, Horst David is showing what’s possible when you train hard and smart—and expect the best.

Now, sit back and be inspired by Horst David during a training session at the Landessportzentrum Vorarlberg (Dornbirn / AUSTRIA): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cB8_j1pHgWs 

Filmed by Raimund Prade.  
Music: “Fly me to the Moon” by Mark Protze.
Edited by Andreas Winder

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