Real Fitness: A magician's fitness tricks

Fred Reisz finds ways to make his knee aches disappear

September 29, 2009 

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Fred Reisz power walks near his home Sept. 24 in Sun City Hilton Head. Reisz stays fit by walking, riding his bike and lifting weights.

SARAH WELLIVER/THE ISLAND PACKET

  • Age: 70 Occupation: Retired educator, theologian and magician From: Sun City Hilton Head Favorite activities: Power walking, weight lifting, cycling FIT FOR A PROFILE Do you or someone you know lead an active lifestyle or have a healthy hobby that's fit to be profiled? Contact the Packet at features@island packet.com or 843-706-8136.

Fred Reisz can't jog like he once did. His knees won't let him. But that's not a reason to stop exercising entirely. He still has to stay in shape -- there's magic to perform.

The Rev. Dr. Frederick Reisz Jr., former president of the Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary in Columbia, sometimes goes as Fred the Fantastique and performs at birthday parties, conferences and festivals.

Magic has been in his life for decades, and now that he's retired, it's become a second career of sorts. Slight of hand or escape tricks don't look like they require much fitness, but at age 70, he's finding that if he wants to continue to perform, he needs to train.

"As you get older, it takes more and more energy," he said.

TRAINING ROUTINE

Reisz jogged about five miles three times a week back when he was working in Columbia. But then, his knees started failing him. The strain was too much. So, he switched up his routine. Power walks were mixed in with the jogs. But age caught up with him again. His knee started hurt, and it got to the point that he couldn't even walk. He recovered and toned down his routine again.

Now, his exercise is spread out over three days a week. The first day he power walks about three miles carrying a 3-pound weight in each hand. The second day, he bikes six miles. The third day, he lifts free weights for an hour at the Sun City fitness center.

In the past 17 years he has not missed a day of work or been stuck in bed ill, something he attributes to his exercise regimen. When he's away, he still manages to get in a walk or maybe even hoist phone books above his head to substitute for free weights.

HEALTHY MOTIVATION

He weighs himself every morning because he's prone to put on a few pounds if he's not careful. He's conscious of what he eats but not obsessive. He's had to cut out certain treats, such has his beloved ice cream, and takes an array of vitamins each day.

Reisz only works a few shows a month, down a bit since moving to Sun City three years ago. Magic can be strenuous -- and that's even before he gets on stage. He's a one-man show, so he has to cart his own equipment, set up his own tricks. He'll be on his feet for about seven hours straight while performing at the Bluffton Arts and Seafood festival next month.

But he doesn't plan on letting up soon.

He authored an article a decade ago titled "On Becoming An Aging Wizard" for a magicians' trade publication. In it, he wrote, "I have thought of how I would perform if my sight fails, or if I were in a wheelchair. These are not absolute boundaries. They are challenges. I intend to perform until my mind leaves me or remakes me into another personality."

Real Fitness is an occasional series highlighting healthy individuals in the Lowcountry.

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