We can thank Dr. Kenneth H. Cooper for Jazzercise, Richard Simmons, and those lovely neon spandex workout suits. Well, not technically, but he is the father of aerobics, the fitness revolution heard around the world. He coined the term in the 1960s and has since built an exercise empire. He introduced the concept with the release of his first book, Aerobics, in 1968. The trend stuck.
Cooper Aerobics Center in Dallas is home to a 30-acre fitness center, spa, hotel, and grill. Founded in 1970, there’s now a second location in McKinney. Today, Cooper still practices what he preaches. At the age of 83, he has logged more than 38,000 miles running. I’ve gotta ask, what’s this guy eat for breakfast?
(Fun note: Cooper trained the 1970 Brazilian soccer team to a World Cup victory. Funnily enough, the word “jogging” is actually translated as “coopering” in Portuguese. He also collaborated with PepsiCo to eliminate trans-fat in the Frito-Lay snack line. Next time you pick up a bag of Baked Lay’s, look for a quote from Cooper.)
D: If you’ve got only 20 minutes to work out, what’s your routine?
Dr. Kenneth H. Cooper: I would engage in some type of aerobic exercise, either walking 4 mph on the treadmill, flat surface, or riding a stationary bicycle.
What’s your typical daily workout routine?
At the end of a 10-12 hour workday, at least five days a week I work out at the Cooper Fitness Center. Usually that consists of a 2-3 minute warm-up on the treadmill at 3.5 mph. For the remainder of my 30-minute program, I increase the speed to 4.0 to 4.2 mph. That enables me to walk 2 miles in approximately 30 minutes. After a brief cool-down, I go through a circuit weight-training program, which consists of 5-6 exercises that concentrate on building muscles and strength primarily in the upper extremities. This takes only 10-15 minutes. I combine aerobic conditioning with strength training, which enables me to be not only cardiovascular fit but enjoy total fitness.
What is your usual breakfast?
A bowl of oatmeal with Benecol.
What is your go-to cheat meal?
III Forks Steakhouse on the Tollway, at which I will enjoy a steak and a delicious dessert, neither of which I eat regularly.
Name a song from your workout playlist.
I do not listen to music when I exercise but do watch Fox News while I am on the treadmill. If I were to select a song to accompany my workout, I would listen to the theme song from the movie Chariots of Fire and other comparable type music.