Healthy Living Y Stories

How to age with grace: Tips from a 50-year YMCA member

Norm Kirk by the front desk at Central YMCA

Norm, a YMCA member for half a century, celebrated his 90th birthday today at the Toronto Central Grosvenor Street YMCA Centre. The former Director of Advertising for the Toronto Star is young at heart, and it shows: he has a sharp mind, no major ailments, and is in excellent physical shape.

Front and back of Norm Kirk's first YMCA membership card

What is his secret formula? Norm credits his optimal health to keeping a balanced and disciplined life by dedicating time to himself, his family, friends, and career. Here are a few tips from Norm himself.

Establishing a Fitness Routine

Ever since he became a member in 1966, Norm has made a point of going to the YMCA three times a week. Norm believes wellbeing comes from developing a sustainable and healthy lifestyle. His fitness regimen includes riding a stationary bike for 45 minutes, followed by an hour of weight training and stretching. It’s a simple routine that has proven to be all he needs to stay healthy and invigorated.

Norm Kirk on a stationary bike in the Central YMCA conditioning room

“If you can work a type of exercise you like into your weekly lifestyle, do it and keep at it,” explains Norm. “You don’t have to end up with muscles like Adonis, you just have to feel good and you will be good. I’m living proof of it; I’m still here.”

Connecting with Others

Every Friday, Norm meets with YMCA friends for a workout and lunch. Many of his business contacts from Norm’s illustrious advertising career — which spans six decades in major media outlets such as The Globe and Mail, Maclean’s, and the Star — were also made at the YMCA.

“The Y is my big social connection; I like the sociability,” says Norm. “I know most of the people that come in. I am getting at the Central Y something I wouldn’t get anywhere else: togetherness — all of my buddies are here.”

Having Fun

Norm and his wife Bette in a Grade 1 class picture

Norm and his wife Bette met in Grade 1

Norm likes to keep busy doing what makes him happy. Always looking for an opportunity to learn, Norm took a writing class. Now, every time he spends quality time with his four children and many grandchildren, they read one of his stories. Norm biked many Canadian trails with friends and travelled to 40 countries with his wife Bette.

Norm has greatly influenced both YMCA staff and members with his infectious joie de vivre, dedication to physical activity, and knack for making friends. Happy Birthday!