Bob Lonsdale - 2011 Spirit of Wellness Honoree
Bob moved to the Beach Cities in 1995, just after the passing of his wife. He called it the hardest thing he’s ever had to go through—but thankfully he didn’t have to go through it alone. That was the same year Bob became a member of the Center for Health & Fitness.
“I started here within the month that I moved to Redondo and have been coming here ever since,” said Bob. “My friends in the South Bay consist mainly of people that I’ve met here. And I’ve been meeting with the same people for 16 years”
For more than 16 years, Bob has met the same group of friends for coffee after working out at the fitness center. And last year, it was this group of friends who helped Bob overcome what he called the second biggest challenge of his life.
Bob has battled with poor circulation in his legs for years, but the condition continued to worsen. Doctors attempted to improve Bob’s circulation through surgery and attempting an artery replacement. Then in 2010, Bob heard the news he had been dreading. His doctors told Bob that his circulation was not improving and the lack of blood flow could be life threatening. Bob’s leg would need to be amputated. In June, Bob lost his left leg and foot just below the knee.
When he visited the fitness center again, it was in a wheelchair and Bob was afraid that he’d never be able to walk again. But the same group of friends who helped Bob survive the loss of his wife in 1995 would be there for him once again. Visits to the hospital, supportive letters and encouraging words inspired Bob to return to the fitness with his beloved friends. Within four months, Bob was beginning to exercise once again. He started small, spending just a few minutes on the treadmill with each visit. But the time spent with his friends was as good for his soul as the exercise was for his body.
According to Bob, “The doctors, after each one of my surgeries, have told me the reason I healed and recuperated so quickly was because I had been coming to the gym regularly. I had to get used to living without a leg and a prosthesis and that took a while.”
And Bob’s friends are still there for him. Earlier this year, the coffee group surprised him with a party to celebrate his 90th birthday—ten years after doing the same for his 80th birthday. Friends, family and fitness center staff were there to celebrate this special occasion.
You can still find Bob in the fitness center three days a week. Hang around and you’ll hear him greeting members old and young by their first name and asking about the details he remembers about their lives. His charming personality, infectious laugh and endearing spirit have made him an institution in the fitness center. It’s what makes him an inspiration to everyone who comes in contact with him.