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NYer of the Week: Martin Luther King Addo Motivates Seniors to Live Happier, Healthier Lives

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In a small studio space on the Lower East Side, the latest New Yorker of the Week trades the glory of winning body-building competitions for the joy of training seniors. NY1's John Schiumo field the following report.

Martin Luther King Addo's energy is lifting seniors.

Martin motivates his older trainees while being inspired by his West African roots.

"Over here in this country, when you turn 65, you have been labeled as a senior, and once you're labeled as a senior, it's like they are waiting for you to either die tomorrow or they put you in the senior home. Our tradition back home in Ghana do not permit and allow the society to treat you that way," he says. "Here in this country, I've realized the seniors are not being taken care of."

So Martin made it his responsibility. A year ago, the former bodybuilding champion opened a small fitness center at the Southbridge Towers on the Lower East Side. At his daily classes, Martin helps older residents regain their strength, balance and confidence.

"The seniors, their training is not to go on stage to compete, but to be able to use it to enhance their everyday activities," he says.

For many, the results are beyond expectations.

"I never thought I'd be able to sit on the ball and get up and sit on the ball. It's hard to balance. But I'm doing that little by little now," says Shirley Freedman, a member of the Southbridge Fitness Center. "It makes me feel great that I can do it, that I'm not really that old. Old is just a number. Ninety is just a number."

"Every minute, if I failed, he put me back up again, "You've got to start over again. Start over again. Have confidence in yourself, You can do it,'" says Mary Killoran, a member of the Southbridge Fitness Center. "And now, I'm walking all over Lower Manhattan without the cane

Martin will tell you that these seniors, and all the members of his gym, are family. His relatives agree.

"He just embodies this whole ideal of family and community, friendship, and it's all brought together through this little tiny gym," says Pete Molinelli, a member of the Southbridge Fitness Center. "It's like a second home.”

So, for motivating seniors to live healthier and happier lives, Martin Luther King Addo is the latest New Yorker of the Week.


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