A 6-foot-2 personal trainer with the lean physique and toned muscles of a basketball pro might seem an unlikely match for Charlene Nilsen. A homemaker from Occoquan, she is 77 years old, she has a bad back, and she just had both knees replaced.
But Nilsen’s trainer, Lawrence Dawson, knows where her body has been in ways that most trainers could never understand. Dawson is 80. To him, Nilsen is a baby.
That doesn’t mean he lets her off the hook.
“Rotate the heels,” he said recently as she swung a set of barbells from left to right. “Abs are nice and tight. Rotate, there we go, there we go.”
Dawson, a retired Army colonel, has worked for 17 years as a personal fitness trainer at the Chinn Aquatics & Fitness Center in Woodbridge. He is the oldest trainer there by about three decades. He started at an age when most people are thinking about retiring, and he works four days a week, pushing his clients, most of whom are of retirement age themselves, through rigorous drills that would fatigue many people half their age.
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