Tough as They Come at Age 91

SHADYSIDE-Dominic Santavicca believes exercise is the secret to living a long life.

The 91-year-old World War II veteran pumps iron for two hours three days per week at the Howard Long Wellness Center in Wheeling.

He hitches a ride from his Shadyside home with the Belmont County Senior Services van and rarely misses a rigid workout regiment that includes using nearly every weight machine in the building and a full-speed jog around the one-ninth of a mile warm-up track.

“I use almost every machine,” he said. “Except for a couple that I think are more for women.”

Santavicca began his fitness program 17 years ago after a doctor told him, “if you want to live longer, you need more exercise.”

He said, “I did just what the doctor said and I have been doing it ever since.”

Working out has become a lifestyle for Santavicca and he wants others to discover the benefits of perseverance.

“You have to stick it out,” he said. “If you don’t stick it out, you’re gone.”

Many of Santavicca’s former gym friends are gone.

“We had a gang of eight that worked out together,” he remembered. “I attended every one of their funerals.”

Santavicca is very consistent with his workout. He always begins with several variant moves on the cable crossover device. He then moves on to the leg press, modular power assist, ab crunch, leg extension, arm curl, rower, tricep and chest presses, and the multiple hip and rotary torso machines. He does 15 repetitions with 30 pounds of weight on each machine. After a five minute repose and chat time with his gym friends, he takes a finishing sprint around the track.

In addition to the fitness benefit, Santavicca enjoy social time with his friends.

“When I first came here, I only knew one person,” he said. “Now I know everybody in the place and they all know me.”

Santavicca proudly wears his “WWII Veteran” ballcap while working out.

He is quick to talk about his service as a sergeant with the U.S. Army’s Company C, 610th Tank Destroyer Battalion.

“I was there in 1945 when we landed on Utah Beach during the D-Day invasion of Normandy,” he said.

While Santavicca eats plenty of vegetables, rice and beans as part of his healthy living, he also eats a lot of spaghetti.

“I’m Italian,” he said. “Spaghetti is a way of life.”