My Best Fitness Recommendation: Make a Bet!


In honor of Dr. Oz’ 100th Episode: While celebrating my 50th Birthday in Cabo, Mexico this January (I am seven months older and wiser than The Great Doctor Oz, well, maybe just older) I met a man named Barry. He was 58-years-old, fit, friendly and wore the coolest sunglasses at the pool, he was also a great swimmer. The sport consumed him; it was his main form of exercise. I asked how he got started in swimming. This is his story.

About two and a half years ago he was engrossed in a dispute with his contractor for $25,000. After reviewing the cost associated with litigation, his contractor abruptly exclaimed, “Let’s swim for it!” Barry, an ex-swimmer from high school, decided the time and energy required of a lawsuit was not worth it to him and said yes to the bet. Unfortunately for Barry, he was not aware that his competition was an ex-swimmer from college who continued to swim at Masters Competitions on the National Level. Rather than give in, Barry decided to use the bet as motivation to take his fitness to another level. 

Being a Type-A personality he immediately hired an Olympic swim coach and decided to focus for the next 3 months to prepare for the race. The work was hard. His pride and, of course, the potential loss of $25,000 were motivation to persevere. His coach lent him his Olympic racing swimsuit and had Mark Spitz (one of his Olympic buddies) call him the night before the race to give him some tips. Mark’s advice: Go out as fast as you can, don’t try and pace yourself. When you start to tighten up, remember the person you are racing is getting just as tight as you are. As you near the end of the race, focus on the touch pad ahead of you rather than your competition.

Finally, the day of the race arrived. It took Barry a half an hour to stuff himself into the Olympic racing suit. Fifty of his friends and family were there to cheer him on. Professional electronic timers were installed. The starter raised his gun and stated, “Swimmers take your mark – BANG!” Barry hit the water and swam like it was a one-lap race. At the first lap they were dead even, second lap, dead even, third lap, dead even. Heading for home Barry focused on the touch pad, took one last deep breath and charged for the wall. Completely exhausted it took about one minute for Barry to realize that he had won the race by less than two-tenths of a second! That’s less than a fingernail’s distance! 

Barry continues to train in his newfound passion and competes at the highest level to this day. He participates in the annual US National Masters Swim Meet. His racing times continue to improve. Barry has noticed that he has never been in better shape physically or mentally.  Swimming has transformed his mind, body and spirit to an entirely new level. Ultimately, he feels he is living his best life ever. Now that’s a bet worth taking.

P.S. To see Barry’s race go to, search Mandel v. Lynch

Added to Fitness, Anti-Aging, Oz 100 on Wed 02/17/2010