New generation of 50-somethings turning back the clock

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Posted: Tuesday, August 5, 2014 5:14 pm

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Fifty years old sounds ancient to a child. Twenty year olds can’t fathom hitting the big five-oh, while those in their 40’s dread the half-century mark. But look around, because if orange is the new black, then maybe 50 is the new 30.

So what is it that sets this generation of 50-somethings apart from previous ones?

Those closing in on 50, like 48-year-old personal trainer Russell Hatt, see the glass as half-full.

“I'm really looking forward to being fifty, I can't wait,” he says. “Fifty is going to be right in the middle of my life journey, and I'm so looking forward to it, ‘cause I feel 20.”

Retired firefighter Susie Pearson says we had different views of 50 year olds in the past.

“Your hair up in a bun, staying at home taking care of your family -- definitely not going out and having fun with your friends,” she says.

At 51, Pearson is one of the new generation of 50-somethings. Pearson was one of the first female firefighters on the Suncoast, and recently retired after serving with the Sarasota County Fire Department for 25 years. She now shares her passion for fitness with others, including those of a certain age.

“I think I feel better now than I ever have, because I'm more self confident than I've ever been,” she says.

And physically?

“I'm in better shape now than when I was twenty,” she says.

Pearson says women in their 50s take better care of themselves now, and lists staying out of the sun, eating healthy, and getting enough sleep as positive factors in helping us age more gracefully.

Mark Black turns 50 next year. “I feel great, I'm very active, keep myself in good shape, and I've never felt better in my life, actually,” he says.

Black says that staying fit, learning new things and helping others keeps him young.

“I do a lot of reading, I'm engaged with a lot of people who are in the community who are doing some good things,” Black says.

Cherylyn Van Kirk is a 60-year-old Sarasota resident and owner of Starflower Organic Spathecary. She says there’s plenty to look forward to beyond 50 -- like belly dancing, which she says keeps her young.

“I did a belly dance performance for my girlfriends and a few guys [on my 60th birthday], and it felt so good,” she says. “I guess I thought about gray haired women, you know, kind of frumpy looking.”

Sounds like something 10-year-old Aaron Mushrush might think. I asked him what being 50 meant to him.

“Well, I'd be halfway to a hundred,” he said, not sounding very hopeful.

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