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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Monday, August 30, 2004

Olympian plays volleyball, soccer for exercise

By Paula Rath
Advertiser Staff Writer

"For a small state, Hawai'i has a rich legacy of Olympians," said Bobbie Perry with a flash of pride in her eyes.

Barbara "Bobbie" Perry of Hawai'i played on the 1968 Olympic volleyball team in Mexico City.

Jeff Widener • The Honolulu Advertiser

When she was on the Olympic volleyball team in 1968 in Mexico City, three of the 12 team members were from Hawai'i.

Her fitness philosophy is simple: "You have to start with little steps. A healthy diet and physical fitness go hand in hand — that's the ideal. But anyone who takes even the smallest step is that much closer to being fit."

Name: Barbara "Bobbie" Perry.
Age: 59 "and happy to be here!"
Occupation: Educational assistant at Kamehameha Elementary School; retired physical-education teacher.
Height: 5 feet 10.

Workout habits: "I love playing games, so that's what I do. I love the competition and camaraderie. Nine months of the year I play soccer, which entails a practice once a week and games on Sunday. For the past three years, I have been competing at the volleyball nationals in the women's 55s and 50s divisions. ... I try to get up to the fitness gym on our Kapalama campus at least once a week for about 30 to 45 minutes. ... Probably the activity that keeps me in pretty good shape without even trying is my job. As an educational assistant, I do a lot of walking — from my office to classrooms and back, at recess, etc. I get in between 13,000 and 15,000 steps on a workday."

When and why I started working out: "I was always active as a kid and loved to play all kinds of sports. So my workouts were 'play.' As I competed at the national level I reached a high degree of fitness with running and weights. Knowing how good it feels to be in top shape, you want to continue to maintain it."

My good foods/bad foods: "I just love all kinds of pastries and cakes. I don't eat them very much but, when I do, I load up. My good foods are fruits. I like eating all kinds of fruit, especially watermelon and mangoes."

My biggest motivator: "At volleyball nationals, the oldest age group for the women is 65, and the oldest for the men is 70. I've also played in the Veteran's Cup (a national soccer tournament for age groups 40 to 55). I watch these 'senior athletes' compete and I have such high regard for them that they are still competing and staying active. In fact, one of the women I play volleyball with in the 55s turned 71 this year and is still going strong.

My biggest roadblock to fitness: "Time. I'm not always able to get in my workouts. So I try to do things in my daily activities that will help."

What saves my sanity: "Staying positive. Being around people who are positive and upbeat. Taking mental breaks during the day to sit back, take deep breaths and think about all the good things in life."

My next challenge: "To play in the volleyball nationals in May in both 55s and 60s age groups."

Advice for those in the same boat: "Everyone, regardless of age, can find some activity they enjoy doing to keep themselves active."