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WWII veteran hits 1,600th workout at age 92

Webb Van Dokkumburg works out at Planet Fitness. Webb Van Dokkumburg works out at Planet Fitness.

Webb Van Dokkumburg, 92, a resident of Carolina Village and U.S. Navy veteran of World War II, has kept a day-by-day journal of his workouts for the past 13 years.

On April 22, he completed his 1,600th workout since he moved to Hendersonville in 2006 and started tracking his workouts at Laurel Park Fitness.

A routine of exercise is nothing new to Van Dokkumburg. After he graduated high school in Iowa, he joined the Navy, serving as a crewman on a fuel tanker in the Pacific, from 1944 to 1946. Going on to get a college education in physical education in 1949, Van Dokkumburg coached basketball and baseball at an Iowa high school for a few years. He soon moved on, and wanting to stay close to sports, found a position as a sports broadcaster in Holland, Michigan, for 28 years.
During his career, he kept his personal routine of exercise up.
“I have been an outdoor person ever since I was like six or seven years old…it was something that I never got away from.” The only other time he kept track of his workouts was when running first became popular as exercise, “…some fifty or so years ago,” said Van Dokkumburg. He logged his mileage until he recorded 15,000 miles. Having hit his goal for the time, he stopped keeping track but kept working out.
Now in his retirement, Van Dokkumburg’s workout schedule is a devoted three days a week, for an hour and a half each time. He starts out doing 10 minutes of flexibility stretches, then moves on to use 15 different strength machines with various levels of resistance. He puts special emphasis on his leg muscles now to maintain mobility, which is key for an older person, and finishes every workout with 20 minutes of pedaling on a stationary bike.
It was with this routine that Van Dokkumburg hit the milestone of 1,600.
“Having worked out in one form or another for over 60 years, my physical workouts have run in the thousands, so 1,600 workouts are not a big deal over a 13-year period,” he said. “It just happened to coincide with my 92nd birthday on April 22.” How does he stay motivated to exercise, especially on days when he doesn’t feel like it?
“That’s easy,” he says. “The days you don’t feel like working out are exactly the days you have to be there. Even if you haven’t had enough sleep…you’d be surprised as you work out these endorphins in your system…come to the front. Nothing tampers with my gym days…gym day comes first; your exercise comes first. The reward for all of this is a fabulous feeling of wellbeing – and for an older person, that’s important!”
Other than wear and tear on his legs, “I don’t have any aches and pains and am very grateful that I can enjoy a pain free life,” he said. “I plan to continue my workout routine as long as the Lord gives me strength, energy and the will to continue with this necessary and healthful program. I want to impress on people how beneficial it is, especially for older people.”