Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

December 27, 2012

New Year's resolution encouragement

58-year-old says others can make the changes he did

Judy Wakefield
Staff Writer

---- — It started simply enough. His homemade chin-up bar in his basement was secured by the one-time legs from his son’s Legos table.

The only problem was Rich Barton of Orchard Crossing couldn’t do a single chin-up. He was 55-years-old and 189 pounds. This married father of an adored special needs son, was out of shape and feeling it, especially when he climbed the stairs at work.

But, as the saying goes, that was so yesterday. In fact, it was 2009. Now, he’s a chin-up maniac.

”My story is the over-50 guy that realized it was time to get fit or else,” Barton said. “And I did it.”

At this resolution time of year, when everyone seems to know someone who has resolved to lose weight and get healthier in the new year, Barton is sharing his story in hopes of inspiring someone.

”It’s a journey,” said Barton, now 58 and a slender 168 pounds. “I want to be around for my wife and son.”

Summed up, his family history of being overweight and having cardiac trouble worried him. He got serious in February 2009, making diet changes and finding time to work out. He coaches and volunteers with scouts in town and is an account manager for Comverse. The job requires lots of travel. He’s married to Joyce; their son, Ross, is 19. It wasn’t easy in those early days. Like many 50-somethings, he had a treadmill for years. But, it sat unused in the basement and was covered in dust.

”The only thing I knew how to do was push-ups and sit ups. So, I did the treadmill, push-ups and sit-ups several times a week for two months and saw no weight loss - not even a pound.

”Gyms scared me and I was worried about looking foolish, so they were out,” he said. “I was the high school nerd. The only physical activity I ever did was ski and bike, and [I did] those inconsistently.”

But, Barton hung in there, always remembering his initial reason for changing his life -- his wife and son.

He started lifting weights. Small ones at first, and heavier weights as time marched on. The P90X weight program was his guide.

He now works out six days a week. His alarm goes off at 4 a.m. and he begins working out by 4:30 a.m. It’s early but it was the only time he could find in his busy life.

”I thought my story would be motivating for others -- especially to the older crowd that thinks they can’t do anything about their situation and just consume meds (medications) to control the damage instead of stopping the damage or reversing it,” he said.

Within a year of his journey, Barton was off blood pressure and cholesterol medications and down 25 pounds, he said. His lowest weight was 158 pounds.

”I was back in the same size slacks I wore after college,” he laughed. The slacks may have been out of style, but the health improvements were totally hip. Today, he is a P90X certified instructor and independent Beachbody coach. He coaches others looking to change their lives and lose weight. The gym fear is gone as new friends include local fitness buffs Art McDermott at Matrix Strength and Diana and Alex Kiesel, owners of Yang’s Fitness Center. All three contribute to fitness columns for the Townsman.

It was a co-worker who tipped off Barton to P90X. The DVDs show you how to exercise and Barton ordered it, buying the minimal amount of gear, he said.

”No big investment,” Barton said. “It took me over four months between family and business travel. No matter, it worked.”