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70-something Dunedin couple stays fit
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Paul and Maureen Gualtieri use a variety of exercise equipment and participate in many exercise classes at the Dunedin Community Center.
DUNEDIN – Paul Gualtieri, 79, had open heart surgery in 1995, but there’s no slowing him down – at least when it comes to staying in shape.

He and his wife, Maureen, 78, are regulars at the fitness center at the Dunedin Community Center, each working out about 18 hours a week.

“We are here so much they (staff) think we are on the payroll here,” Paul said, jokingly.

Much of their time, about 12 hours a week, is spent in group exercises, such as Pilates, yoga, Nia, cardio-combo and Zumba.

I think personally, all of the ones we take, each one offers a different advantage,” Paul said. “Yoga is great for relaxation and stretching your joints and all that. Pilates does a lot of stretching of the muscles. The cardio burst on Monday nights, a terrific thing. It’s a real workout.”

The couple, who have lived in Dunedin since 2002, began working out at the Community Center in 2011. Maureen had been going to a gym for women on Main Street that closed down, and she heard about the fitness center. They quickly realized the advantages, besides getting a good workout, such as camaraderie in group classes. They think the facilities are excellent.

“Staff is incredible. Everyone is very professional and very helpful and their attitude is just wonderful. You really feel comfortable coming here,” Maureen said.

Paul said he had no reservations about exercising rigorously because “I had really good cardio rehab,” he said.

“The only reason we didn’t do a lot of it sooner (is) because we are working. When you are working for a living you don’t have the time to get into this thing. That’s why I do respect these people who do work and come in so much,” said Paul, who isn’t directly related to Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri.

Finding the time to exercise while the Gualtieris worked was difficult. They also raised five children. He was a dentist specializing in orthodontics. She was a registered nurse.

They are both in good health and are vegans.

“He had open heart surgery in 1995, the same year we retired, and he said he wanted to cook vegetarian foods. I cooked regular meals for five kids for years and years, up in Syracuse. So I said, ‘You want to cook? I’ll shovel the snow and mow the lawn and you can cook.’ Then we moved to Dunedin and I don’t have to shovel and mow because we are in a condo,” Maureen said.

“And I still cook,” Paul said.

The couple doesn’t own a television or a computer, preferring peace and quiet. Being without such devices allows them to make time for other activities.

“We are off our duffs, so to speak,” Paul said.

They also bowl and do volunteer work, such as for a hospice.

“We get up in the morning and come here (the fitness center) for a couple of hours,” Maureen said. “And then some days we go and do hospice work. Then bowl and come back and do another couple of hours. This is kind of our life.”

The couple have not experienced any injuries from working out at the fitness center. They encourage other seniors to use the facilities.

Paul said he has done a lot of walking, which he considers good exercise, but finds the group exercises more beneficial for the body and more interesting.

“Seniors are not expected to keep pace with the younger people. You go at your own pace,” he said. “There is no self-discipline required as you would have if you were trying to do all this at home. You just have to get in your car and drive there and follow the instructor’s lead. You get a terrific sense of well-being. It makes you forget your inadequacies in other fields, like bowling or golf or whatever.”

When Paul started bowling 15 years ago he started with a 10-pound ball and gradually made it up to 14 pounds.

“Just in the past several months, I’ve been able to throw a 16-pound ball,” Paul said.

“I think it says a lot for what we are doing.”
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