Bodybuilder, 93, with winning muscles

Dr Charles Eugster: "I want to turn the heads of the sexy young 70-year-old girls on the beach"

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At 93, Dr Charles Eugster cuts a dapper figure in his navy suit and matching silk handkerchief and tie.

But he looks just as good in the Lycra gym suit he has on underneath, ready to spring into action like a nonagenarian superhero.

This former dentist took up bodybuilding just six years ago, aged 87, yet looks very at home surrounded by the whirring fitness machines.

His reasons for picking up weights in his 80s are simple. "The idea is to turn the heads of the sexy young 70-year-old girls on the beach," he says.

Disappointed he was becoming overweight, Dr Eugster joined a bodybuilding club and decided to hire a former Mr Universe to train him into shape.

Fifty push-ups

He now works out three to four times a week, often for two hours at a time, with his regime varying depending on his goals. Sometimes this involves a "heavy session of muscle building or rowing on the lake".

Start Quote

I'm extremely vain and I noticed I was getting fat”

End Quote Dr Eugster Bodybuilder

And his vigorous training has clearly paid off. At a recent championship he achieved 57 dips, 61 chin-ups, 50 push-ups and 48 abdominal crunches, each in 45 seconds.

He is careful to point out that, because of his age, he has dispensation to do the push-ups on his knees.

Dr Eugster is no stranger to competitions. Since starting his bodybuilding training he has won several world titles for fitness and picked up many rowing medals.

He isn't a novice to hard graft - he used to be a competitive rower in his younger days, first picking up the oars as a student in London.

But for 30 years while working long hours as a dentist he didn't manage to exercise regularly and began to realise his body wasn't what he wished it to be.

"I'm extremely vain and I noticed I was getting fat," he said.

Clearly much more content with his appearance now, he feels his former training must have helped with his recent successes: "In my opinion anybody can do it. But obviously it is like trading in your old car for a new one.

PHYSICAL ACTIVITY FOR HEALTHY OVER 65s

• At least 150 minutes (two hours and 30 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity such as cycling or fast walking every week

• Muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days a week

"If you have taken care of your old car, it won't cost you so much. But it you have neglected your car it's going to cost you a lot."

Dr Eugster readily demonstrates some key exercises, providing tips on technique and is evidently willing to push himself to his limits.

As he surveys one machine he is obviously unimpressed with the weight selected by the previous individual.

"Would you mind if I added a few kilos to this?" he asks and then moves on to bench press an impressive weight with ease.

How old is too old?

When asked whether there are some days when he feels like skipping a training session or whether it hurts to do so much activity, his bemused look says it all: "Not really. Look, in order to build muscle you have to train your muscles to exhaustion. In fact it should be so strenuous that you have microscopic tears in your muscles."

Prof Steve Iliffe on the pros and cons of taking up physical activity in older years

But is it a good idea to attempt to become a sporting champion in later years?

Steve Iliffe, professor of primary care for older people at University College London, prescribes caution: "He is unusual and there is a small minority of the population that can undertake that sort of vigorous activity into their 90s, but that's not true of most of us.

"Within reason it is never too late to start exercising, but you do have to remember there is a difference between exercise and physical activity.

"Most older people don't do enough physical activity so increasing that is what they should do before they go onto the more strenuous gym type of exercise."

Some 80-year-olds will feel it is time for a rest after years of hard work and often hard manual labour, he says. Though understandable, that's a mistake - it is important to keep active.

Prof Iliffe says general activity - walking to the shops, taking the dog for a walk, or even walking down to the pub can help to keep healthy.

Recent studies suggest even pottering around the garden is a good idea.

But for Dr Eugster, six years of strenuous training with a professional coach in his hometown, Zurich, has changed his life: "I am of the opinion that no age is too old. My body is still continuously changing at 93.

"It changes your appearance, it changes your energy and it changes the way you think

"Ageing has become something for me, an enormous pleasure, a delight, a joy."

And he certainly does turn heads in the gym. "When I'm training with my coach people come up to him and say 'for God's sake, let him live!'"

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