Old-School Fitness


At 71, Irv Dickstein may be the world’s oldest trainer. True or not, he’s a living history lesson on the evolution—and lifelong benefits—of fitness. Here, he weighs in on the three fitness trends that have remained popular over the years.

1.) Body-weight training. Back in the 1950s, Dickstein noticed the gym crowd was divided into two camps—lifters and Broadway dancers. The latter did more gymnastics-type exercises with parallel bars and rings. They also stretched. “The rest of us thought it was a waste of time,” he says. “But those dancers had abs. They were the only guys who had symmetrical bodies.”

2.) Supplements. “The old-time workout guys were on vitamin E, which was considered good for the heart and brain.” Drinking carrot juice was also popular, as were protein shakes. Abe Goldberg’s gym even mixed protein shakes for his clients, long before it became a health-club mainstay. “They always had raw eggs, ice, bananas, and strawberries.”

3.) Fight Training. Punching a bag, skipping rope, and medicine-ball training have all become common sights in gyms. “A lot of today’s training techniques are taken from boxing. Boxers were the macho men of the ’50s. If you weren’t a boxer, and you were in a gym, you were considered a wacko.”


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