Walking with NYRR Striders Adds Years to Juan’s Life

NYRR Striders group from Parkchester, the Bronx

NYRR Striders group from Parkchester, the Bronx. Moose is in back, with white hat.

Early in retirement, Juan “Moose” Gonzalez was looking for ways to get active while staying connected to his Bronx community. After a long career of working with his hands, Moose, 67, found himself feeling bored without the structure his occupation had given him but was facing health issues that made certain aspects of daily life, like keeping fit, difficult.

“I wanted something to do—I didn’t want to become a coach potato,” Moose recalls. “I had energy I wanted to use up, but I was in pain constantly. I was a mess.”

Around the same time, his first granddaughter, Esmeralda, was born and he realized that his lifestyle was incompatible with the long-term health required to be a part of her life for years to come. Looking for options, Moose discovered NYRR Striders, a community-based walking program for older adults that meets weekly at senior centers across the five boroughs, and decided to give it a try.

He fell in love with the program, not only because it allowed him to walk regularly, stay active, and channel the extra energy he found he had in retirement, but because he was able to meet and connect with like-minded seniors who shared his interests. Walking with a group helped motivate him, especially on days when he would rather have stayed inside, and provided lively conversation that kept him from getting bored while burning off calories and staying healthy.

Juan "Moose" Gonzalez

Juan “Moose” Gonzalez at an NYRR Striders session in April 2019.

Walking with Striders gave Moose a new lease on life. He began to notice tangible health improvements, dropping from 325 lbs. to 245. His fitness has also positively impacted his relationship with Esmeralda, making it easier for him to keep up with her and to be a part of her memories.

“Before Striders, I could hardly get up or sit down. Now I can race my granddaughter in the hallways of my apartment. I just always let her win. And,” he says with a chuckle, “if I’m given a cupcake, I give it to her instead of eating it myself.”

Juan Gonzalez with Mitchell Strong, Parkchester Striders coach.

Moose with Mitchell Strong, Parkchester Striders coach.

Next up, Moose wants to walk off another 25 lbs. to get under 220. He also wants to bring Esmeralda to some Striders sessions, to show her the importance of physical activity.

“Being active with Striders has given me more years I can play with my granddaughter. They were the ones that made it possible. If it wasn’t for that, I don’t know what I’d be doing. Sitting on the couch probably,” he says.

To take the first step like Moose and to get active with NYRR Striders, or if you know someone who would benefit from walking with NYRR Striders, check out one of their many sites and start moving today.


Will Koessler

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