Senior Planet News

Keo, 85: Barbells and “Brio”

Meet Keo Capestany. He’s one of the 2022 Senior Planet Sponsored Athletes, and he’ll be sharing updates on his health & wellness journey through the rest of this year. Today, Keo is taking us through his fitness story–one that involves a battle against prostate cancer and its challenging aftermath. At age 85, Keo pumps iron and breaks stereotypes that claim weakness and fragility are an inevitable part of the aging process.

There is a wonderful word, brio — more commonly used in Spanish than in English — that is defined as “enthusiastic vigor.” From my life experience, I know that there is no vigor without rigor. My dream is to help more seniors live a life without fragility, and full of brio.

Many older adults think that if they lack experience with weight training in their earlier years, then it’s too late to start a program to increase mobility, strength, and power — this can’t be further from the truth!

Against the odds

In 2014 at age 78, I went through successful radiation therapy for prostate cancer, plus a total suppression of testosterone through drug treatment. The radiation ended that year, but because my cancer was very aggressive, the chemical treatment continued for several more years.

“My only alternative has been to work out (with devout persistence) against the odds.”

Younger men often recover a normal level of testosterone after the treatment stops, but that has not been my case. I am still way below what is normal for my age. It is extremely difficult to regain muscle size and power when you have almost no “T.” According to my oncologist, treatment to increase my testosterone is not an option. My only alternative has been to work out (with devout persistence) against the odds.

At the start, I saw discouragingly scant results. Doing 10 body weight squats was barely possible. Today, I do 50 repetitions without stopping! Some days I’ll even do 50 squats while my first morning coffee drips and another 50 an hour before bed.

I am a very ordinary older person — almost anyone can do what I do.

I’ve also made great strides with planking, the core-strengthening exercise. I gave it a try for the first time about a year ago, and performing a 10-second hold was exhausting. Now, I can plank for two minutes.

Water you waiting for?

You don’t have go to the gym or to purchase expensive equipment to get started. In most cases, all you need is your own body weight. You can also use common household objects — a one-gallon plastic jug filled with water weighs 8.35 pounds. You can start with just a little bit of water, and add more liquid as you gain strength…which you certainly will!

For beginners, it’s a good idea to consult with your doctor and even look for basic coaching. Senior Planet offers a wide range of free online fitness classes each week. 2021 Sponsored Athlete Abbey Moon gave an informative talk and demo on weightlifting for older adults, which you can watch here. I am looking forward to meeting you all during my own live presentation on June 15!

“Pumping iron is vital for our bones and our muscles.”

I am a very ordinary older person — almost anyone can do what I do. Pumping iron is vital for our bones and our muscles;  I hope that my example will motivate you this year. Fragility is often voluntary. YOU can attain a formidable “third age” full of brio. Check with your doctor and start pumping iron!

In need of a little motivation to get moving? Join our daily health and wellness programs, stay tuned to the latest news and articles from by signing up for The Orbit weekly newsletter, and follow us on social media (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram) to get to know these awe-inspiring athletes. You might just find a new love for fitness along the way!


19 responses to “Keo, 85: Barbells and “Brio”

  1. I am feeling all washed up at the age of 68. I had a fall last month in the middle of the the street and l already have pain in my knees due to arthritis. My knees hurt more now. My doctor gave me a referral for physical therapy. There is so much more I want to do in life!! I want to get in shape and feel better about myself. Ready your article gives me some hope! Thank you for sharing!

  2. Thank you for sharing your journey. I am 74 and about 3 weeks ago started strengthening exercises using water bottles and a YouTube video dedicated to elders. I observe the difference already in my muscle strength and balance. I highly recommend it and it only takes me 1/2 hour each morning.

  3. Keo,
    I’m 75 and in good health but could do more to gain strength in addition to my daily walks. I will pay attention to your journey and recommendations. I too have lost a lot of “T” after prostate surgery (BPH) in 2015.
    Thanks Keo!

  4. My husband, 79, also has prostate cancer, had radiation, a reoccurence, and hormone suppression. Like others, he has learned to live for the day, continue his weights and exercise. He’s always been an inspiration to me and others. Congratulations to Keo, for his dedication and enthusiasm and for the article.

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