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94-year-old Michigan man says gym 'can't get rid of me'

Don Forster signed up for a gym membership on March 11, 2003. Fast forward almost 21 years later, and you can still find him inside the gym.
94-year-old Michigan man says gym 'can't get rid of me'
Posted at 2:10 PM, Feb 01, 2024

The secret to a long life just might be found inside Rivertown Gym and Fitness in Allegan County, Michigan.

The gym's motto is "Believe. Achieve. No excuses."

Perhaps no one embodies that more than Don Forster.

"They laugh when I say, 'If I fall down, I get up by myself,'" he said. "I don't get anybody to help me."

Forster was born on Jan. 10, 1930. That makes him 94 years old.

He started his fitness journey on March 11, 2003. At that point, it was for his health, but now, it's a part of his lifestyle.

“My local doctor told me, 20 years ago, he said, 'Don, you ought to go to the gym and work out,'" Forster explained. "Now he's retired, he comes out here and works out with me. Twenty years later, I still keep coming to the gym. They just can't get rid of me.”

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You'll find Forster inside Rivertown Gym and Fitness three to four days a week, and they always start the same way.

"I get up at 5:30 in the morning," he said. "I have a big bowl of Cheerios, and a cup of coffee, and I try to get to the gym by seven o'clock."

Forster works out for a full hour, cycling through a list of nine exercises that focus on every part of the body.

His strict routine was formulated by Todd Greenman, the gym's co-founder.

“We're doing what we can based off of some of the limitations as we progressed in age, the longer we stay on this side of dirt," Greenman said, "but we're still challenging him. So yeah, that's been fun.”

"He keeps track of me pretty close," Forster said about Greenman.

Forster supplements his workouts with trips to the doctor and dietitian, but he said his toughest health and wellness coach just might be his wife, Kay.

“She makes sure that I get off to the gym every morning," he said. "If I go reaching into the cookie jar with my hands, she always slaps my hands, keeps me straight and narrow. After 71 years, you know, I have to kind of listen to her.”

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Forster wants his story to show that limits can be an illusion.

"If you're 94 years old, you go to the gym. You workout. Don't let age bother you. Just do it," he said.

However, during his conversation with Scripps News, it became clear what truly keeps him coming back — love.

“I keep the muscles in my arms because my wife has physical problems, and if she falls on the floor, I've got to reach down and be able to pick her up and put her in the chair," he said.

Whatever the reason, Forster knows he's not ready to give it up any time soon.

“It's just a way of life. It's a routine. It's just like going to work every morning," he said. "You do it. That's just the way it goes.”

This article was originally published by Max Goldwasser for Scripps News Grand Rapids.

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