Queer locals defy their age through healthy lifestyles

By Rich Lopez
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Age ain’t nuthin’ but a number … at least until your back goes out. So it’s remarkable when people defy ageing by basically kicking ass. Growing older is something we all do, but it’s also when our body might start doing its own thing. Creaky knees? Reading glasses? Hey, they come with the territory. But these individuals are living their best silver fox lives with a healthy outlook.

Keeping the gains
Musician Tom Froehlich, pictured, can tickle the ivories as well as throw around major weight. At 66, he’s been bodybuilding for more than 40 years since coming to Dallas. He continues that with a healthy diet that keeps him active as well as chiseled.

But in the beginning, the culture was different.

“I was always interested in it but we didn’t know what we were doing in the gym,” Froelich says. “Fitness hadn’t moved into popular or mainstream conscious.”

Perhaps moreso, it was at the beginning when Nautilus was the new thing in gyms and Jane Fonda revolutionized home fitness through video.

He continues his weight-lifting but in his 60s, he’s learned how to approach health smartly.

“I’m doing things that 65-year-old bodies aren’t designed to do,” he says. “So when I do things in the gym, I keep that in perspective.”

Froehlich won’t be the guy grunting loudly with every lift and then dropping weights.

“I get so irritated by those guys. They are just throwing weights around in a way the body isn’t supposed to.

Doing stupid stuff in the gym is unnecessary and only wears the body down,” he says.

On the flip side, he does enjoy watching those who know what they are doing in the gym. He’ll pick up tips or discover exercises he hadn’t seen before. This has helped him develop his regimen of lifting five days a week and cardio three to four times a week. He adds that people can’t just pick up a book and do things by rote. For him, seeing the process is the best way to learn and then do it successfully.

Like anyone, with age can come obstacles. Froehlich was open about osteoarthritis but has used it to his advantage.

“I have a good foundation but I’m more conscious about what not to do,” he says. “The arthritis situation has made me more in tune with my body and what it shouldn’t do. So I accept that and adjust accordingly.”

He’s also learned the importance of a clean diet. That may be the most important component of all. After a workout, Froehler says he’s completely exhausted … and it’s worth it.

“I’m also energized. When I go to the gym, I zone out and focus. But I feel like I got a boost. I’m mentally refreshed and it’s like therapy.”

Froehlich often gets asked for gym advice to the point where he’s come up with a stock answer.

“Go to YouTube and search ‘Athlean X.’ It’s a great set of videos that are instructional to all body parts and so well thought out,” he says.

If he could help his peers out he would. He says if he had the time, he’d get certified to become a trainer to help those over 50 on their fitness journey. For him, it’s a demographic that gets overlooked by trainers.

“I think there’s a market out there not being filled,” Froelich says. “I love helping people and I used to be a teacher — a good one. But there are seniors who have different goals or may not have a clue where to start.

They are also ageing and the body won’t perform like it did. I think everyone wants to stay alive, stay fit. I push my body as far as it can go because I want to be the best 66-year-old I can be.”

Gone vegan
Mario Tarradell’s name might sound familiar. He was a long time music critic for the Dallas Morning News.

Now he’s on the marketing side of things as a communication specialist for Apex Capital Corp. About a year ago, the 53 year-old decided to go vegetarian.

“It was a psychological epiphany. I just wasn’t feeling my best physically,” he says. “I had been vegetarian before so this time I felt armed with some information,” some of it from the documentary Forks Over Knives and the book Fast Food Nation, both which opened his eyes.

Within that year, he’s transitioned into a low-carb vegan — the kind that goes on about how delicious nutritional yeast is. But this time, he began exploring and researching his lifestyle change and that’s what’s kept him both on track and committed.

“This has been more about me working to create a system that helps keep me as healthy as I’d like to be,” Tarradell says. But the impetus to go further came in September. At his job, he took a biometric screening. When the results came, it was a wake up call.

“I wasn’t happy with my blood glucose — it wasn’t anything horrible, but also, I don’t have the world’s greatest genes,” he says.

He had already cut meat out and reduced his dairy significantly save for eggs. Soon after his test, he cut those out, too. He’s also taken on Pilates and walking as his form of exercise. At present, he’s lost 18 pounds.

“I feel amazing. Nothing is cooler than buying new pants that are size down. I miss some stuff like rice, but you just have to keep figuring things out and researching. I think that’s one of the cool things because it all seems logical and you decide on what makes you feel good and what doesn’t. There are a lot of resources out there,” he says.

Truth be told, vegans get eye-rolls and Tarradell certainly got his. While he was feeling amazing physically, he learned how societal being vegan is.

“I don’t know if stigma is the right word but when you tell people your dietary choices, you get those looks,” he says. “It can be a challenge on a regular basis when going out to eat. We’re very much in a meat and high-carb eating society. I think what irks people the most is that this is a choice I made just like they made to eat meat, pasta, cakes, whatever.”

But he has found eateries that work well within his means. He calls Spiral Diner “heaven” and talks up the beet and black bean burger at Lazy Dog in Euless… minus the bun, of course.

As for advice on anyone deciding a similar route, he offers this: “It’s never too late in life to figure things out and adjust. I’m a firm believer that we are all works in progress. This is all about figuring out what works for you.”



For people 50 and older on their health quest, Oak Lawn personal trainer T’Don Marquis says start at the very basics.

“A lot of society is going to benefit from any kind of exercise, but balance is huge at this time in someone who is 50-plus, so a lot of focus should be on resistance training, core stabilization and power training,” he says.

While he doesn’t classify clients by age, he understands that goals are different at various points in life.

Many are looking to move easier without tightness. Others want to add a little muscle, which improves bone health. But the bottom line is a good one.

“There are tons of added benefits to exercise. You fight osteoporosis, lower blood pressure, lose body fat, have quicker reflexes,” Marquis says. “After 40, people lose five percent of muscle and bone mass every decade.”

But he starts at balance and he’ll notice first if someone simply walks correctly.

“That’s how we in the industry look at strides to make sure the knees aren’t inward or outward, that feet aren’t turned and that the hips are balanced,” he says. “If you’re unable to walk correctly, why consider a run or throw extra weight on it. We need to start at that big picture first of balancing the body.”

— Rich Lopez