By Maddy PUMILIA
It’s not unusual to find a treadmill or free weights in a fitness center. But at Glendale Memorial Hospital, one can usually find Carleton Ralston who still works out regularly despite turning 100 years old on Jan. 26.
Ralston celebrated his milestone birthday with a party at the hospital’s Cardiac Fitness Center on Jan. 25.
“I’ve never known anyone that age before,” said Ralston’s wife, Ingrid. They have been married 56 years.
Carleton Ralston was born on Jan. 26, 1913 in Brooklyn, N.Y. He went to UCLA where he was a boxer and a gymnast. He was a member of the Air Force, a sixth grade teacher and a building inspector.
He started working out at the Cardiac Fitness Center in 2000 to support his wife.
At the party, Carleton demonstrated some of the hospital’s equipment including a Nustep and a Schwinn Airdyne.
“Not always three times a week,” Ralston said of how often he works out. “But most of the time.”
“The program is for patients with either coronary bypass surgery or valve replacement,” said Dr. Lawrence O’Connor, the center’s medical director. “They exercise three times a week for three months. The data in the literature shows if you tack that on to the back end of the operation, patients do better physically and live longer.”
The Cardiac Fitness Center has been at the hospital since 1980. It started with just three patients but now has more than 200. It offers a variety of exercise equipment including treadmills, groin machines, arm bikes, sitting down stair steppers (the Nustep), elliptical trainers, weights and bicycles.
In recognition of turning 100, the hospital gave Carleton a year of free exercise as a gift. At the party, patients were able to use the equipment. Refreshments were provided, including a cake. Michelle Galanti, the manager of Cardiac Fitness, EKG and Echocardiology, organized the party.
“We knew that Carleton was turning 100 this year. We wanted to celebrate that, because he’s a continuous exerciser in our program,” Galanti said. “I sent out the emails to all of the management at the hospital. We let the patients know. We got together.”
Galanti said anyone who turns 100 and is still working out will get a party. Though the Cardiac Fitness Center has many patients in their 90s, Ralston is their first patient to reach 100.
“Carleton, in all the years he’s been here, has really developed a camaraderie with the patients,” Galanti said. “They all wanted to be a part of the celebration.”
“I love all of these people,” Ralston said. “They joke and laugh and have a good time.”