Jack La Lanne is known as the Godfather of Fitness. In 1936 he opened the first fitness club in America and in 1951, La Lanne brought exercise to television for the first time.
The University of Nevada, Reno has its own Jack La Lanne. Bill Oberding, 58, director of the Human Patient Simulator with the Savitt Medical Library, is known to many as Reno's fitness guru.
Following in La Lanne's footsteps, Oberding writes fitness articles for the University's faculty/staff website "Our Workplace", and the "Senior Connection", hosts Bill's Total Fitness on the Sierra Nevada Community Access Television (Reno Channel 13) and has a weekly radio show called Fit Bits on KUNR (FM 88.7).
In April and May, Oberding participated in the Sierra Nevada Senior Games, a regional meet with eight states represented by nationally and world-ranked athletes over age 50.
Oberding has been competing in senior games since 1998 and has won more than 150 medals. At the Huntsman World Senior Games, which draws some 9,000 athletes from more than 50 countries, Oberding has won five gold medals, three silver and one bronze.
In addition, he has garnered three world titles and two world records in track and field. At last year's meet, he ran the fifth fastest time in the world in his age group in the 100-meter race.
In the recent games in Reno he took the gold in the overall fitness competition, winning all the events and establishing a new games record in total points. He also won the following awards:
- Gold medal, combined power lifting
- Gold medal, standing broad jump (Oberding currently holds the world record in his age bracket)
- Gold medal, softball throw (best throw in the nation)
- Silver medal, shot put
- Silver medal, javelin
- Bronze, discus
- Two gold medals, swimming
- Gold, bike race
- Gold, basketball skills
"The competition in Reno is pretty tough," Oberding said. "People from eight states come to this competition, including national champions."
Although he qualified again for the elite Huntsman World Senior Games, which will be held in October in St. George, Utah, he will not compete this year due to a foot condition, plantar fasciitis, a painful inflammatory condition caused by excessive wear to the foot. Oberding has been forced since last year to forgo his best events—sprints and jumps—because of the condition.
"I've only got so many jumps and so many runs left in these legs," Oberding noted.
However, Oberding is not letting his foot injury stop him from staying in shape. He hopes to be completely healed in four to six months. In the meantime, Oberding continues to inspire people of all ages to exercise, remain healthy and take care of their bodies.
"If I can inspire people to come out and get into shape, I will do whatever it takes," Oberding said.