Exceptional People: Kenneth Joe Clark
Statement of Belief
Joe believes that if you exercise, you are not going to hurt as much and exercising helps you from getting a lot of diseases and health problems.
As we age our bones get brittle and weaken. We have aches and pains, exercising stop this. Joe exercises at least an hour each day, six days a week. At 79 years old, Joe, can bike a difficult ride of 50 – 70 miles in a day. He believes exercising keeps him in shape and is what keeps him healthy and in doing what he believes on a daily basis makes him an exceptional person.
When you meet Joe, you see a 5’ 10” good physique, handsome, slender, confident, proud person. You can tell that he keeps himself in good physical condition and after talking to him you see his determination and capabilities.
Exercise, in Joe's Words
“The main reason I exercise is I feel better. I’m ready to do anything I want, biking, hiking, skiing, hunting or anything else. When you get older everything on your body seems to hurt. When I’m in shape I don’t hurt.”
“I have had bad bike spills, been bruised, scrapped and sore … but never a broken bone. I don’t ride with older people, because I go faster, longer and a more difficult route than they prefer. However, I can’t keep up with the younger and real riders, so I ride alone most of the time. I’m totally worn out after a ride, but that’s okay. I hope to continue bike riding and try to be ready to do anything that comes along.”
Kenneth Joe Clark was born on September 15th, 1935 to Benjamin and Mamie Clark, in Fort Lupton, Colorado. He was the second child and the only boy. He had an older sister, - Shirley, and a younger sister, Jeanne. His close family calls him “Joe”, dad, grandpa, “Uncle Joe”, other parts of the family call him “Kenny Joe”, friends and classmates call him “Clark” or “Ken”.
“My influence was my dad, he encouraged me to exercise at an early age.
When I was in the second grade, the doctor found I had rheumatic fever.” In those days having this disease was deadly. “Dr. Lamb had a different way of treating rheumatic fever patients, while other treatments failed and people died. Mom and dad found out about this new doctor and took me to see him”.
Dr. Lamb told them, “Give him total bed rest”.
When his mom asked, “How to you keep a young active boy in bed?”
Dr. Lamb told her, “You do it or he dies.”
For the next six months Joe was kept in bed without listening to radio or reading, in fact he was not allowed any stimulation of any kind.
Total Bed Rest
“Start him out slow and build him up, to make his heart stronger.” Dr. Lamb told his dad that he wanted Joe to start exercising.
After the six months of total rest and taking a special tonic which was awful tasting plus goat’s milk and very large pills.
He was a small slight built boy at 14 years old, 5 feet tall and 95 pounds. Being small, Joe was a prime example to be picked on and at times he was in a fight almost daily. His younger sister at one point, refused to acknowledge him at school as her brother because of all the fights.
He decided if I am going to be picked on, “I’m going to be strong, tough and ready to fight.”
“My dad and granddad were boxers, and granddad Clark had a fast bag mounted on the ceiling of the basement, where we lived. Dad built a stair step platform so I could reach the bag”.
Part of his exercise routine was learning how to box with his dad. He also had an exercise routine with two-pound dumb bells, push-ups and set-ups. This exercise set the tone for the rest of his life.
Joe's Current Workout Routine
“I workout almost every day, but each day is scheduled for different muscles or aerobic exercise.”
“I finish off weightlifting days with 25 sit-ups, 20 leg lifts and 30 reps of 70 pound crunches, in a set of three.”
Day one is weight training, upper body, shoulders and arms for 30 - 35 minutes. Rest five minutes, then finish with set-ups, leg lifts and crunches for 15 – 20 minutes.
Day two is stationary bike for cardiovascular, to improve heart rate and oxygen use. I ride for 30 – 45 minutes and bring my heart rate up to 152 to 157 and hold it for one or two minutes, then back down to 130. I do this 2 – 3 times. Now that I am older I will be too tired to do sit-ups, leg lifts and crunches after aerobic exercise.
Day three is weights again, upper body, chest, back and arms, 30 – 35 minutes. Rest five minutes then finish with set-ups, leg lifts and crunches for 15 – 20 minutes.
Day four is stationary bike again 45 minutes; and I bring my heart rate up three times.
Day five is weights, lower body and legs, 30 – 35 minutes. Rest five minutes then set-ups, leg lifts and crunches.
Day six is stationary bike again 45 minutes - taking it easy.
Day seven is the day I will take off or if I have missed a day for some reason I catch up.
Keeping His Interest
"I start exercising again at the first of the year or before with lifting weights and it takes me about three months to get back where I was”.
“I now take off October, November and December and don’t exercise so I will not get burned out."
“About the first of April I stop stationary biking, which is a long ways from being fun and start going out on the trails. I start by going 12 miles and work my way up to 70 miles. I try to go riding every other day with a 10% increase each ride until I reach 45 miles and above. Then I only ride long, 50 miles and over, one or two times per week”.
“When I start riding outside I lift weights twice a week. After a long, windy or hard fast ride, I now have to rest two days between rides. I sleep 10 hours each night and take one or two - two hours naps per day to recover”.
“When I’m out alone riding against a cold 25 mile per hour head wind with about another 30 miles to go, I wonder what is wrong with me? Why in the hell am I doing this – this is not fun! Then in a couple of days I will find myself getting up at 4:45 a.m. filling my camelback with ice and water so I can be on the trail by 6 a.m., strapping on my helmet and thinking to myself; this is going to be a great day”.
“You need to train your whole body not just a few selected exercises. Different muscle groups are worked throughout the week.”
Joe advised: “Never increase your exercise more than 10% from one day to the next. Your body does not like to take big jumps. If you ask your body to do more than 10%, you are asking your body to do something that we aren’t built to do and this is when you get injuries.”
Around 1991 he found out that he had ‘two’ frozen shoulders. When the doctor found he couldn’t break the shoulders loose, the doctor told him that he would have to have an operation or exercise and break them loose himself.
He set up a home weight gym in his basement.
“When I reached up to pull down the weights, it was all I could do, the pain was so intense. In less than one year my shoulders were back to normal”.
He purchased a stationary bike; this led him to start bike riding for aerobics.
There have been period’s throughout his life when he did not exercise, although he always did the push-ups and sit-ups.
Masters Ski Team
An instructor and member of the Masters Ski Team in Winter Park, Colorado encouraged Joe to join them. To be on the ski team, Joe had to strengthen his legs, so he started an exercise program.
He said that he was worst skier on the team when he joined, but “he was the most improved at seasons end.” He was a member on the Masters Ski Team for three years.
“If people knew how much better they would feel after three months of exercising, everyone would be in better shape. But the first three months are really the pits. It’s not fun; it’s hard work and hurts. It takes a determined person to keep at it.”