Jim Owen was too busy to hit the gym. The year was 2004, and his new book, Cowboy Ethics, had already sold more than 150,000 copies, which helped him land close to 300 speaking engagements that year. The retired Wall Street guru turned self-help author found himself crisscrossing the country to promote his book. Living out of a suitcase, hustling from city to city, and eating late-night dinners began to wreak havoc on his physical appearance, as well as his heart, strength, and cholesterol levels.
Owen had an epiphany when he saw a video of himself during his birthday celebration.
“I said, ‘That can’t be me,’ ” he recalls. “My back was killing me. My knees were shot, my right rotator cuff was frozen, I was 25 pounds overweight. And of course I wasn’t exercising.”
His doctor had even more bad news: His condition might require heart surgery.
“Let’s come back six months from now,” Owen told his doctor. “Let me try to eat cleaner and exercise, and we’ll see what happens.”
Owen didn’t earn the nickname “rainmaker” by having a penchant for self-loathing and procrastination. He applied the same tenacity he used to become a wizard on Wall Street to take control of his health—and he did so at age 70.
The first step: daily 10-minute walks. Then he hired a trainer to help him build strength, and finally, he began to adopt a cleaner, healthier diet. As the pounds began to shed, Owen realized that being fit wasn’t about looking good in a Mad Men–style Armani; it was about self-preservation and feeling energized.
“Fitness isn’t about saying, ‘Boy, look how much I can lift,’” Owen says. “It’s about being healthy and moving without aches and pains. And now, five years later, at age 75, I’m in the best shape of my life.”
This prompted him to pen his latest book, Just Move!, which chronicles his experiences and offers advice for others over 50 who want to live fit.
“People said, ‘Jim, what are your credentials in writing this book?’ ” Owen says. “Only one, I say. I was a certified couch potato.”
Today, Owen is down to 155 pounds, less than his high school weight. He works out up to six days a week, incorporating full-body workouts with dumbbells and TRX. He lists planks, lat pulldowns, lunges, pushups, and squats as his Big 5 go-to moves. He loves the BOSU ball and has embraced the necessity of core and stability movements.
“I had never heard the term core before,” he says. “I thought it meant your six-pack. I learned it extends through your upper thighs and through your chest. And my back issues came from my weak core. So now I’m big on core.”