SWANTON, Vt. (WCAX) They say the hardest part of going to the gym is getting to the gym. This week's Super Senior is a regular. Joe Carroll went to Swanton to find out how he's getting stronger every day.
George Rusnak is a true believer that your body is your temple. He religiously goes to New Beginnings Fitness in Swanton five days a week. No pain -- no gain.
"I don't leave the gym unless I have a burn," Rusnak said.
He has earned a bit of notoriety at the center not just for being ripped, but for his age.
"I'm almost 80 years old. At this point in time, I'm a lucky man," Rusnak said.
"Oh, they're always shocked, always shocked. Always shocked at his age and he is able to do everything," said Chrystal Hutchins, who owns New Beginnings.
His tenacity for training sometimes gets tested.
"There are days when I get up in the morning and I'm thinking like, do I want to do it today?" Rusnak said.
But it's rarely a weighty issue because Rusnak says he has a goal.
"I'm trying to be who I am and try to live my life the best way I can do it," he said
In his early 70s, Rusnak took the training to a higher level. He competed in competitive bodybuilding for the first time with guys much younger than him.
"I won. I don't know what to say. I won," he said.
He entered again a few years later and did it again-- fittingly called the "Super Senior" class.
"Shocked, shocked. Absolutely shocked," he said.
Besides his wife, Mary, he had another supporter.
"My daughter, Susan. She was always there," Rusnak said.
A proud daughter who helped him with his poses.
"I wouldn't say I'm flaunting it," he said. "I try to stay healthy. This is the way I do it."
Rusnak says his days of competing are over. He now feels healthier at a weight hovering around 180.
Reporter Joe Carroll: You know, I have to say you've been very nice to me.
George Rusnak: Why shouldn't I be?
Joe Carroll: Well, you haven't said how much better shape you are compared to me.
George Rusnak: I'm not comparing you, Joe, not comparing you at all.
But George's mental toughness was tested five years ago. For a while, he gave up on the gym. Susan had a problem with her heart. She died suddenly on a plane on her way back to Vermont from participating in a triathlon. She was only 44.
"How fragile life is. My worst nightmare to lose a child," Rusnak said.
But slowly he returned to working out realizing the strength training is good for not just the body but the soul.
"Oh, I'm so fortunate in so many ways," he said.
Like a good session at the gym, the grief still burns, but in the end, it's only made him stronger.