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I CAN be a CHAMP fitness profile of Harry John of Redlands

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Since I have been the Redlands Daily Facts fitness columnist for more than two years and have heard from quite a few readers that the column is helping them adopt a "fitstyle" way of life, I have decided to periodically profile some local residents whom I feel embody what I call the "I CAN be a CHAMP" way of life. Each person profiled will become an honorary member of the All Things Fitness, I CAN be a CHAMP Team.

In my last column, on Feb. 28, I explained the I CAN acronym: Imagine, Commit, Attitude and Never give up.

Now I will explain the acronym CHAMP:

  • C = COMMITMENT:Once again, any goal takes a commitment to work toward the goal.

  • H = HARD WORK: Any goal worth achieving usually requires hard work. If fitness was easy, everyone would be fit.

  • A = ATTITUDE: One can never have too much positive attitude. It sets the frame of mind.

  • M = MOTIVATION: One has to be motivated to stay the course on their road to fitness. Extrinsic rewards, such as improved body composition, are often people's initial reason for exercising. However, it's the intrinsic rewards, such as personal satisfaction and a sense of well-being that usually enables one to incorporate an exercise program as part of their daily lifestyle.

  • P = PERSEVERANCE: There will be great days, OK days and some not-so-good workout days. Just like life, one has to take one day at a time and never give up on fitness

The first person I chose to profile is Harry John, a Redlands resident since 1958 who was a practicing certified public accountant and Canadian chartered accountant for 50 years before retiring about four years ago. I've known Harry since the mid-1980s when I first moved to Redlands with my fellow U.S. National Cycling Team member, boyfriend and now husband of almost 20 years, Tom Resh.

Harry was a cyclist and involved with the Redlands Bicycle Classic. Fast forward 27 years and I now run into Harry almost every Wednesday morning when I'm training in Prospect Park. Despite turning 90 this October, Harry is still an avid exerciser. Every time I see Harry walking in the park, I admire his zest for life and his commitment to regular exercise. He has proven that he is an exercise CHAMP. I hope you will be inspired after reading his interview, I know I was.

Patty: Briefly describe your exercise and/or walking history.

Harry: I have always enjoyed cycling and cycled six miles daily to the office for 50 years. Often went on 100 "" to 200-mile weekend trips with different organizations.

Patty: I understand you have had some hip replacements. Would you explain when and why this happened and how walking has helped you?

Harry: I had my right hip replaced in April 2008, the left one in April 2009, and the right one again in April 2010. I have arthritis but exercising keeps me medication-free and moving. After the first surgery I started walking in the pool at the Drayson Center and this helped immensely.

Patty: How long have you been walking in Prospect Park and how often do you walk there?

Harry: A couple of years following hip replacement surgery. I try to walk four or five days a week.

Patty: Briefly describe your association/history with Prospect Park.

Harry: I have been involved since the beginning when we first tried to acquire it with a bond issue which failed to get the necessary votes. The Friends of Prospect Park was formed and we were successful in raising the necessary funds to acquire the park for all of the citizens of Redlands to enjoy. I was an original director and treasurer for many years before retiring a few years ago. The park is one of the greatest assets of Redlands. It's amazing that this treasure was almost lost to development.

Patty: I notice you use walking sticks. Can you explain why and how they work?

Harry: My major problem is balance and the walking sticks enable me to walk at least three times farther. In the last couple of years I was able to walk for miles all over Israel and Spain, cobblestones included.

Patty: What motivates you to walk?

Harry: Seeing friends in wheelchairs or walkers who have just given up.

Patty: Besides walking, do you currently do any other exercises?

Harry: When it rains, I pedal my stationary bike for 10 miles a day with level 6 resistance.

Patty: How has walking on a regular basis improved your quality of life?

Harry: As I mentioned, it gave me the confidence and ability to take vigorous three-week trips which required miles of walking. It gets me outdoors where I meet people and can enjoy seeing all the beautiful scenery and the birds and squirrels.

Patty: How has exercising affected your mental well-being?

Harry: While I'm walking it taxes my memory trying to remember the names of flowers and trees and people. A good walk gives you the satisfaction that you're still capable of staying active and able to take care of yourself.

Patty: What advice do you have for people on exercising, especially those who may think they are too old or it's too late to start exercising?

Harry: It's never too late to start. I have friends in their 90 who remain alert and active and regularly exercise both mind and body.

Patty: What do you like most about walking?

Harry: Being active, meeting people, enjoying nature.

Patty: What, if any, do you like least about walking?

Harry: Forcing yourself to walk on the days when you feel sore and stiff and old.

Patty: Harry, is there anything else you would like to say about exercising and/or walking that may help the readers of the Redlands Daily Facts begin or continue with exercising on a regular basis?

Harry: Get out of your car and walk, Redlands is a beautiful city to see and enjoy. Spring is here so spring forward.

If you know of someone older than 40 you think is a possible candidate to be profiled for the All

Things Fitness, I CAN be a CHAMP Team, send me a brief description as to why, a photo and his or her contact information.

Patty Peoples is a fitness educator and coach at Chaffey College, USAT Level 1 multisport coach, ISSA-certified fitness nutrition specialist and trainer and the reigning USAT Sprint Duathlon national champion with more than 125 career victories. Peoples can be reached at