by Xavier Jones. This article originally appeared in the Telegram Newspaper.
If you ask 10 people their definitions of success, you might get 10 different responses. Google defines success as “the accomplishment of an aim or purpose.” World record holder, Albert “The Exercise Bandit” Harper describes success as motivation, a factor that drives his life in a positive direction.
At age 66, Harper has been breaking world records for over 30 years. His world records include 45 push-ups on top of a brick with one finger, 50 push-ups on top of a potato with one thumb, and a record for push-ups on raw eggs, while balancing an egg on a spoon in his mouth, a record he accomplished with 30 push-ups.
Successful aging is a very complex term. Although the words sound good, what does the phrase mean? Sometimes, say experts in aging, it simply implies a positive aging process. According to a 2014 article in the journal, The Gerontologist, before research in the field of aging became widespread, successful aging was simpler term that implied an ideal goal of growing older without illness, or few health afflictions.
The body has no natural expiration date or guarantees. A study from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention found that 22.7% of adults have been told by a doctor that they had some form of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis, gout, lupus or fibromyalgia. Although associated with aging, aliments usually experienced by older people have also been found among high school graduates.
The Exercise Bandit
The Exercise Bandit attributes much of his career success and successful aging to his lifestyle and mental fortitude. But during his 50s, arthritis struck all over his body. Harper was not hindered, but became determined to add it to his list of feats. Arthritis strengthened his dedication to fitness and setting new world records.
Nothing stops Albert Harper from being the exercise bandit. He regularly practices judo, boxing and martial arts. That is on top of a strict gym routine, self-defense classes he teaches around the community, and fitness routines he displays for school children across America.
Two of the earlier theories of successful aging, suggested, on the one hand, that staying engaged in an active lifestyle helps an individual aging successfully, and, on other hand, that a sign of successful aging may be that older people become disengaged, stepping away from an active life. Over time studies, theories and definitions have shifted. Experts have looked at more variables, such as retirement age, kinds of activities people undertake after their working years. Factors such as personality, income, health and one’s expectations of life we seen as being more important.
An individual who expects failure will fail, as opposed to someone who expects happiness and success from their interactions with the world. It seems clear that Harper has aged successfully, and has worked his hardest to get there. Success keeps the exercise bandit motivated. Albert Harper’s mind is just as strong as his body. He encourages everyone to live a healthy, comfortable life that would yield them the best long-term results.
An Interview with the Exercise Bandit:
Xavier Jones: What are some of the obstacles you’ve faced through your career?
Albert Harper: There’s a lot of envy and jealousy! Most people don’t really have your back! A Lot of people doubted me when I first started; I’ve put years into this, and strangers still go out of their way to put their ill intentions on me.
XJ: What makes your mind the unbreakable force it is?
AH: I’ve built my state of mind around success! I just want to succeed! I can’t be broken! I deny any obstacle, person or circumstance the power to break me! The only thing that’s going to stop me is death! You’ve got to be a brick wall, something the strongest tornado or hurricane can’t break down!
XJ: What sparked this journey?
AH: Fear of mediocrity, I always wanted to be something better than the ordinary man. I didn’t plan on waking up every morning, packing a lunch, and working the same eight hour shift for years. I want to leave a legacy behind, I want the world to know that Albert Harper was here! There was only one way to do that, by setting world records.
XJ: What made it difficult?
AH: It took awhile for the money to start coming in. I performed for free at over 200 day-care centers. The kids, the staff and the parents loved it, but the money wasn’t flowing in. I didn’t care about the money, this is what I wanted to do! There were a lot of haters! My family had doubts, my neighborhood had doubts. Now I’m wanted all over the world!
XJ: What do you believe made you successful?
AH: As much as I care about getting paid, it wasn’t my primary motivation. I believe in my heart that if you stick to your passion, and what you love, you will rise above the controversy, the haters, and you will place yourself right where you need to be.
Xavier Jones wrote this article for the Detroit area’s Telegram Newspaper with the support and information of a journalism fellowship from the Gerontological Society of America, Journalists Network on Generations and Silver Century Foundation.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Diverse Elders Coalition.