The idea came to Garry Stutz last January, six months prior to his 75th birthday, while he was walking on a treadmill at the Anytime Fitness gym in Spanaway, WA.
“I was not in very good shape after my prostate cancer surgery and needed motivation to get back in shape, and that’s how my birthday wish idea was planted,” Garry explained.
From 1983 to 1999, Garry’s family participated in the annual Sound to Narrows 12K race in Tacoma, WA. Together with his wife and their children, the Stutz family would walk and jog the 7.5 miles. It became a family tradition.
The tradition halted when Garry developed a knee problem and had to quit running nearly two decades ago.
“I have since had knee and hip replacements,” Garry said. “Then heart surgery and cancer surgery, so I have not been able to run much. So, my 75th birthday wish was to once again participate in the Sound to Narrows event with my six children, 26 grandchildren, and three great grandchildren. I became excited about the idea of four generations doing this event together.”
Working Toward the Wish
Garry joined Anytime Fitness in August of 2016, shortly after his cancer surgery.
“I met Garry at a local business meeting, where I told the group that we love to help seniors in the community get to a healthier place,” said Courtney Schnetz, gym manager. “That same day he called me at the club and he joined that same week with a Silver Sneakers (an insurance program with gym benefits for seniors) membership.”
Soon thereafter, Garry told Courtney about his birthday wish.
“Courtney told the other staff members and the owner,” Garry said. “Whenever I’d come into the gym, they welcomed and encouraged me. It was great motivation. Their encouragement and support helped keep me going and helped improve my stamina.”
The staff at the gym are accustomed to helping members with a wide array of fitness challenges.
“Our coaches work with people from all walks of life,” said Courtney. “Most people have, or have had, some sort of injury or health concern. We introduce each of our new members to a coach, who helps them develop a Get Started Plan. Most seniors just want to feel better, have less pain, and more energy. Exercise can be even more effective than medicine.”
The Race Is On
As for Garry, he was overwhelmed when he learned that, for the first time in nearly 20 years, his entire family would be joining him at the Sound to Narrows 12K! They completed it in June.
“All of my children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren participated,” Garry said. “We walked, ran, and took turns pushing strollers. Even the babies were enjoying the event. Four of the teenage boys skipped during the entire event. We stuck together and finished together, 37 of us, all wearing ‘Stutz Family’ tee shirts given to us by Anytime Fitness. It was an incredible experience and a highlight of my 75 years.”
A Legacy of Activity
For others facing health challenges, Garry offers the following advice:
“A big part of being happy is staying healthy. An important factor in healing quickly is being healthy. Because it is so hard to stay in shape at our age, consistency is required. A legacy of staying active and healthy is worth more than money as an inheritance.”
What’s next for Garry? “I have a couple more backpacking trips planned this summer with my grandsons,” he said. “They are hard to keep up with. So, I am motivated to keep working out at Anytime Fitness—with a lot of stair steps and biking.”