Although he is a familiar sight at the Life Time Fitness in Scottsdale, Ariz., Sam Rosenstein still manages to turn heads whenever he strolls through the front doors. Why? At 94 years old, the workout warrior and WWII veteran makes an astonishing—and inspiring—sight in the gym.
“I just love it,” says Rosenstein of his daily workout hobby. “I enjoy it. It’s what keeps me going.”
In a world where the WWII veteran population is swiftly dwindling, Rosenstein is something of a rarity, a relic of a bygone era and its memories, sensibilities and beliefs. It’s difficult to find a WWII vet who is not only alive, but also lucid enough to speak about his experiences.
Rosenstein’s life story is nothing short of amazing. Serving under General Patton in the 87th infantry division during the second World War, he was instrumental in such pivotal events as the Battle of the Bulge and the liberation of Buchenwald. “We were Patton’s right arm,” Rosenstein says. “Every time he needed infantry, we were there.”
Upon returning from combat, Rosenstein worked as a cab driver in New York City for almost 35 years, a job that exposed him to an unimaginable range of people and encounters.“Whatever you could think of happening, happened to me,” Rosenstein says with a laugh. “I had a woman give birth to a baby in the backseat of my cab. I was held up with a gun five times.”
It was during his time as a cab driver that Rosenstein began working out at his local YMCA. “I was sitting in a cab for 12 hours a day and needed to do something active,” he says. “Ever since then, I became interested in gymnastics and working out.”
As he’s gotten older, fitness has remained an integral part of Rosenstein’s life. He typically works out with his son, Jerry. Every morning around 10 o’clock, Rosenstein attends his local Life Time Fitness and does a variety of exercises, from weight-training to walking on the treadmill. Fitness, he believes, is what has kept him vital.
Rosenstein has been happily married to his wife, Mildred, for a remarkable 68 years. “I picked the right one,” he says.
The two met when during the war when Sam was on furlough from the military. “I met her at a party, and we hit it off,” Rosenstein remembers. “Every time I came back home on furlough, I called her, and that’s the way it started.”
Rosenstein credits his marital success to friendship, love and a shared affinity for chocolate. “We like the dark chocolate—there’s not as much sugar as there is in the milky stuff,” he says.
Rosenstein’s secret to longevity? Simple, he says: “I never drank. I never smoked. I exercise,” Rosenstein says. “I’m fortunate to have lived this long. I’m lucky. I survived 18 months on the front lines in WWII and came out in one piece. I’m very fortunate.”
It’s never too late to start exercising, Rosenstein adds. “Move. Get out there. Exercise,” he says. “Exercise is what has kept me alive. I feel great.”