florence perchuk palm springs

Moving Up

At 92 years old, Florence Perchuk will tell you the word 'Vertical' is a key to senior fitness. “You don’t stay Vertical if you don’t move."

Janice Kleinschmidt Current Digital, Health & Wellness

florence perchuk palm springs

Florence Perchuk, 92, stays “Vertical” by following a daily fitness regimen.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY NATE ABBOTT

Florence Perchuk executes 60 squats every morning. After the New Yorker moved to Palm Springs in 2014 and until COVID struck, she worked out regularly with personal trainer Dan Donahue at World Gym. Now she trains with him once a week in her home.

At 92 years of age, Perchuk stands tall at 4 feet 8 inches. She jests that squats come easy to her because her short height puts her “close to the ground.” She attributes her flexibility at an advanced age in part to the awareness of body movement she gained in her first career as an opera singer (she later became an interior/kitchen designer) and her physicality in part to athleticism (including tennis, volleyball, and skiing).

“The key word is ‘Vertical’ with a capital V,” she proclaims in explaining her devotion to training. “You don’t stay Vertical if you don’t move. At 92, I plan on moving. And it isn’t going to change if I live to be 100.”

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“I am in awe of Flo’s grit, determination, and 
positve outlook.”
— Dan Donahue

“I am in awe of Flo’s grit, determination, and positive outlook. She has inspired me to set my personal goals higher,” Donahue says. “She sets a wonderful example of how to live an active, fit, healthy life and have a lot of fun.”

Perchuk similarly admires Donahue.

“I have never enjoyed working out with anyone as much as I do with Dan,” she says. “He encourages you to stretch — to try new things and keep on working for a new goal. And that’s a joy when you are getting farther down the road you have chosen.”

No one need execute 60 squats every morning to achieve Perchuk’s pursuit of lifelong Verticality. But you can’t get farther down the road if you’re idling in the driveway.

No Fall Zone

A Coachella Valley native now living in New York City, Katie Reed saw the need — through her grandmother — for programs to help people 65 and older stay fit without having to leave the house. After a pilot program with assisted-living facilities, she and a business partner launched an internet fitness platform in November 2021.

Subscription-based Balanced includes on-demand and live classes incorporating cardio dance and boxing, yoga and stretching, and strength training. Programs are reviewed by a board-certified physical therapist. Reed and her partner have secured $6.5 million in venture capital funding to build their brand and are working toward getting Balanced offered as a benefit of Medicare Advantage plans, much like SilverSneakers.

SilverSneakers, available only to Medicare Advantage members, offers free gym memberships, as well as online access to wellness articles on exercise and nutrition and live and on-demand classes led by trainers educated in working with seniors. Videos cover yoga, mat Pilates, cardio routines (including dance), stretching, flexibility, balance, strength training, tai chi, stress management, and brain health.

• READ NEXT: Look for Qualified Personal Trainers When Choosing Your Gym.