Jim Richardson, 73, lives at Trilogy at Tehaleh, a 55-and-older community in Bonney Lake, where he has a reputation for being perpetually happy and personable.
But when he showed up at the community fitness club one morning this spring, the instructor noticed he seemed happier than normal.
“He had this big smile on his face,” said Todd Dail, the club’s fitness director. “Then he told me he’d just done this hike at Mount Rainier with his grandkids and it was 8 miles and one part of it was super steep.
“And it kind of blew me away.”
Richardson started working out in Dail’s classes in late 2015. He had back issues and heart problems that limited his ability to be active. In those days, Dail said, there is no way Richardson could have pulled off an 8-mile hike.
“People ask me why I do what I do,” Dail said. “It’s really cool to see people’s lives change for the better and to see them do something that they didn’t think they’d ever be able to do again or were never able to do.”
Richardson had always wanted to hike the area along the washed out Carbon River Road at Mount Rainier National Park. So, he decided to invite his grandsons — Kyle Endres, 21, and Blake Fealy, 23 — to join him for a little expedition in May.
They hiked the road and took a side trip to view an old mine and then continued on to Chenuis Falls.
“I wouldn’t have even attempted it a few years ago,” said Richardson, a retired phone company employee.
He may be retired, but he continues to get more and more active. He walks the community trails and is a regular in the exercise classes. He bikes the Foothills Trail with his wife, Lysbeth. He recently slowed down long enough time to field a few questions about how he reclaimed his active lifestyle.
Q: Were you more active when you were younger?
A: In my younger years I was pretty active. We lived in Maple Valley on an acre with a lot of trees. I cut wood and kept pretty active until a few months before we moved out here. I fell down the stairs, which didn’t help matters any.
I think the exercise helps with that, because he (Dail) does a lot of exercise where you have to lift your leg and keep your balance. But I wasn’t overly active the last few years.
Q: Was it intimidating to get started with a new exercise routine in your 70s?
A: It’s always a little intimidating when it’s new, and it’s always nice to be done because it’s hard work.
Q: So what types of exercise do you typically do?
A: We generally start off with stretching, walking, sideways walking exercises, but we quite often get down on the floor and lift our legs and bicycle. And a lot of lifting your neck and trying to strengthen your abs. I’m weak in my abs and hamstrings, but since I’ve started doing the exercises with him (Dail) I’ve been feeling my abs a lot more.
I can also feel the difference in my arms and shoulders.
Q: So what’s your next adventure?
A: We walk a lot and we bike quite a bit, my wife (Lysbeth) being from the Netherlands. Probably later this year we are going to go back and visit her family.
Originally I was in the military in the 1960s and I was stationed at a nuclear missile site in the Netherlands during the Cold War. While I was there I managed to learn enough Dutch to meet my wife’s brother. We did a lot of camping in Europe and in doing that I met my wife.
She left her family to come back to the United States with me. And it’s worked pretty well because we’ve been married 49 years now.
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