Facing retirement after a long and successful career in finance, Robert Rossilli found himslef with a growing portfolio, and an expanded waistline. But after making dramatic changes to his eating and exercise habits, he not only lost 89 pounds at 64 years old, he gained a new line of work.
Rossilli became a fitness professional, and a few months ago started Fitness Over Fifty, which helps other retirement-age individuals stay fit and healthy.
“In my mid forties, I was in good shape. Then I got out of good habits and at 60, ballooned to 234 pounds,” said Rossilli, a former vice president with Merrill Lynch in Massachusetts and now a Kings Park resident.
Rosilli said he has tried every diet over the past 20 years from Atkins to Medifast, but nothing clicked.
“Then, when I was 64, right after Thanksgiving, all the right stuff fell into place,” he said. “I started putting all the pieces together and went from a peak of 234 down to 147,” said Rossilli.
At his heaviest, Rossilli was experiencing the type of problems that were prohibiting him from enjoying his retirement. His knees would hurt when playing with the grandkids and his back would ache as he sat in his stadium seat as he tried to watch his alma mater, St. John’s, in a basketball game.
His transformation kicked off when he became certified in fitness instruction, but when he discoved that he had a skill that many in his trade don’t – working with the senior crowd – the idea for his business was born.
Rossilli already has nine clients and recently landed a spot over at the Suffolk Y Jewish Community Center in Hauppauge as one of their trainers. Rossilli's class at the Y runs at $35 for a 1/2 hour session and reduced to $25 per session if one signs up for a 12 session package. His private fee is $60 for a one hour exercise and fitness nutrition session at his studio or at a client's home facility if they have one.
Nearby gyms such as LA Fitness runs a Senior Fitness class that uses light weights, offered twice weekly. Silver Sneakers and Fit and Easy, geared toward seniors were also offered at other area gyms. Classes are taught by certified instructors, not necessarily seniors themselves, in a class size setting.
A dedicated area in his Kings Park home serves as the meeting place for his clients, where he gives small group workshops on reading food labels, developing proper eating habits as well as personal training for fitness. Rossilli even introduces his clients to YouTube, where he has found of wealth of fitness videos for his clients to use.
His wife, Cheryl, already trim, started to take some of her husband’s advice and began to add some healthier food options to her diet and began some weight training as well. Rossilli is sensitive to the unique problems of the aging baby boomer and has spent time researching workout options for those with osteoporosis, something he has seen in some of his clients.
“I started out with very light weights and Rob encouraged me to work with increased weight to develop some muscle mass,” said his wife Cheryl. Rossilli said seniors often think they can only work with 3-5 pound weights, but with time can and should increase that weight to gain strength. Cheryl went from lifting three pounds and is now at 12 pounds.
“I know how hard a senior can push themselves,” said Rossilli.
Rossilli, who retired in 2005, said his years working with clients and his interpersonal skills have helped him in his new venture. His approach to work has changed and so has the reward.
“My intent about work is different. Now I think, how can I help this person, not like when I was 21 and the number of clients was the goal.”
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