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Fran Bell enjoys swim aerobics classes at the Marsh in Minnetonka three days a week. She lifts weights and works out on fitness machines in her condo building three days a week. On Sunday, she rests.

Richard Sennott, Star Tribune

95 and still in the swim of things

  • Article by: PEG MEIER
  • Special to the Star Tribune
  • December 22, 2012 - 2:33 PM

Fran Bell exercises six days a week, pushing herself to get her heart rate up and limbs strong. She says she feels wonderful, not much older than she did in 1985, when she joined the Marsh: A Center for Balance and Fitness, in Minnetonka. Her "much younger" husband of 71 years, Art, 93, works out there, too. And once a year, on her birthday, the women in her Marsh swim class put on an almost-nude performance for her in the locker room. Got your attention?

EVERYDAY THING "On Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings, I work out in a swim aerobics class at the Marsh. And Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings I lift weights and work out on the machines at our condo building."

OLD-SCHOOL WORKOUT "During the Depression, when I was a child, my dad was an officer at the YMCA, and we kids had swim lessons there. Later, when Art and I had our four children, chasing them around was enough exercise for a while."

FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH "Exercise keeps me going, I guess. And it's not only the exercise, but also the community. The Marsh isn't a jock shop, at least for us older ones. It's wonderful friendships, too."

AGING GRACEFULLY "While you're living, you have to take care of yourself. We eat healthy -- vegetables and fruits and whole grains. And we like our boxed white wine, low in alcohol and good-tasting. My mother lived to 89 and my father to 91. Art's dad lived to 100. So we have to stay healthy."

BARING IT ALL "When I turned 80, some of the women did an impromptu naked dance for me as I came out of the shower. The ritual got more elaborate every year. By the time I was 85, they put on [skimpy] costumes and sang and choreographed a number. One year they were cowgirls, another year Hawaiian luau dancers."

THIS YEAR'S CABARET NUMBER "In honor of the Olympics, each woman wore little British flags and sang 'Oh, When Our Queen Walks in the Marsh' to the tune of Louis Armstrong's 'When the Saints Go Marching In.' I was the queen."

THE RULES "No men. No cameras."

2013 PINUP CALENDAR "No way."

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