Grand Rapids man earns spot on worldwide ‘exergaming’ leaderboard by pedaling up to 20 miles per day | #elderly | #seniors | #execrise
GRAND RAPIDS, MI — What started as a healthy pre-pandemic hobby has placed Robert Todd among the best in the country.
A 69-year-old Grand Rapids man, Todd regular finds himself ranked in the top 20 in the country for the amount of miles he compiles over a month on a special exercise workout machine that blends cycling with video game features.
He’s pedaled up to 20 miles a day at the senior living community where he lives.
Todd is currently 14th for the month of April. In February, he ranked in fourth place among over 1,300 worldwide riders.
Todd’s motivation comes from the discipline and structure of working out, especially paired with staying in shape. As he’s come to use the CyberCycle even more during the COVID-19 pandemic, it has grown to be one of his daily highlights.
“That’s what I look forward to every day,” Todd said. “I mean, some days I look forward to it more than others. I keep telling myself sometimes I have to motivate myself. I tell myself I don’t have to exercise; I get to exercise.”
Each CyberCycle is an exercise bike with a mounted screen and steering controls. Users ride along different courses, with the bike adjusting to account for variables like elevation. The program is marketed to seniors.
At Holland Home, a West Michigan senior living community, the CyberCycle program offers residents more than 40 virtual road courses, tracks the pace of participants and creates challenges for individual riders. It also allows riders to compete with seniors on CyberCycles from around the world.
A resident at Holland Home, Todd started working out regularly a few years ago to take control of his health and sharpen his mind. Using the community’s Body Shop gym, he made working out a habit. That got much easier when he got a hold of a CyberCycle.
Marenta Klinger, director of Resident Life at Holland Home, said the community got the three cycles when a gift allowed them to outfit the Body Shop with brand new workout machines. Three of those were CyberCycles, which were instantly popular and became great ways to connect community members during the pandemic.
“It’s just been such a gift and blessing that we had these in place,” Klinger said. “So that even though they can’t work out side-by-side with one another, they can still compete against each other and against people across the nation. So there is still that sense of competition, even though we can’t be physically close together.”
Todd said he was never a bicyclist, or even incredibly into working out. He had dabbled with standard workout machines before, but nothing substantial.
Then, he began to ride the CyberCycle regularly to form a habit, which started to stick. But as he was getting into a rhythm, COVID-19 shut down the gym. Walking tied him over in the interim, so when the gym gradually reopened, he was ready to get back on the bike.
Riding for 90 minutes at a time and upwards of 20 miles in some cases, Todd would go on to ride virtually alongside other users on the CyberCycle. He said the machine’s pacer is often too slow, so he races against “ghosts” of his best times to beat his own records.
Come January, one of the Holland Home trainers told Todd that he was ranked top 10 worldwide. So come February, Todd rode every day of the month in anticipation of visiting family in March. That led to his highest ranking in February.
“(With the) the competitive edge in me, I thought, ‘Oh, this is interesting, I think I’ll see what I can do,’” he said. “So February, I had a really good month.”
Todd said that when he is riding, he isn’t smiling like the actors in the Peloton commercials. But on top of tracking his revolutions per minute and calorie burn metrics, he said he’s been in a better mental shape since picking up the bike.
“You know, they say aerobic activity enhances your cognitive abilities,” Todd said. “I feel like cognitively, I’ve never been sharper. That’s what keeps me going.”
The entire Holland Home community has been riding the same wave of enthusiasm, with the community riding 1,400 miles in March to rank seventh out of 265 worldwide teams.
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