Super Mario: Meet Yorkshire’s great-grandfather who is still working out at the gym aged 94

By Jill Dando News

A great-grandfather dubbed ‘Super Mario’ still pumps iron at the gym he calls his ‘second home’ and has no plans to stop – at the grand age of 94.

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Mario Sanna even celebrated his birthday with a two hour workout at the I-Motion Gym in Rotherham, with his ‘second family’.

The former railway engineer said his job laying train tracks kept him in good shape, but he fell in love with the gym when he took it up after retiring from work to stay fit.

And 30 years on, he still visits the fitness centre twice a week for a rigorous workout routine that includes exercise bikes, rowing machines, leg presses and biceps curls.

He told the Yorkshire Post: “When I retired from work, I had nothing to do, so I decided to join the gym. It was my intention to be as fit as I possibly could be. I use everything the gym supplies – any type of machinery, from spinning classes to lifting weights and going on the walking machine.

“In my opinion, the body needs to be moving. I probably keep moving even when I’m asleep. It’s a machine itself. If you leave it idle, it begins to deteriorate.

Mario, who also has four grandchildren and two children, began working for British Rail in 1954 after arriving in the UK from Sardinia two years earlier.

And during those early days, the physical exertion he needed to shift hefty tracks around had been enough to keep him in top shape. When Mario finally downed his tools in the early 1990s, he recognized he needed a new way of staying fit and got his first gym membership – in his 60s.

Only an eye condition prevents him from driving to the gym as frequently as he’d like, he is hoping to return more regularly after an operation.

And he encouraged other OAPs to hit the gym as the human body is a ‘machine’ that needs to constantly move or it will ‘deteriorate’.

He added: “I started at the gym 30 years ago, but I was training before that because I worked for British Rail on the tracks, and that was part of my routine, really. I worked every Sunday because I was getting married, and I needed a lot of money at the time.

“It was very manual work all the time. I’ll do ten minutes of leg press ups, pull-down weights; I’ll go on the rowing machine, walking machine and go on the cycling machine.

“I always think I need to stretch my legs as they’re carrying the rest of my body, and that’s one thing I’ll treat as the number one.

“Then I’ll do the other parts of the body – from legs to the arms. I also do Pilates and anything that helps me to be physically more fit than I am now. I’ll also lift a 25kg bar, and I go on the cables. I’ll normally spend between one and two hours at the gym. But if the coffee machine is working, I might stay two and a half hours.”

Birthday Boy

Mario said he regards the friends he’s made at the gym as a “family” and recently celebrated his 94th birthday with a group of them.

He said: “They all wish to see you all the time. It’s like a family. If you continue coming to the gym, then you bump into other people, and you make friends and have a chat.

“For my birthday they had a party – and this is the place. They celebrated it here.”

Mario said he was the oldest person that uses his gym, but recommended other OAPs give it a try if they want to keep in shape.

He said: “I think I’m the oldest one. I can recommend it to anybody to do it, especially if they’re on their own, to come out of their house and do something.”