SUN CITY CENTER
Rolande Poulin plays volleyball once a week, tennis four times a week and softball in three leagues.
Add clogging and weight lifting three times a week, walking dogs and aerobics classes and there's no doubt Rolande is fit.
So much so that the BBC noticed.
The fact that Rolande and her husband, Bert, are among the most fit seniors in Sun City Center made them into reality TV stars on the program Are You Fitter Than a Senior?
The BBC filmed the program in April 2010 when Rolande was 71, and Bert was 61. The final production Are You Fitter Than a Pensioner?, Britishspeak for retiree, aired on the network in September 2010.
The program paired four young adults with two couples living in different retirement communities across the United States. For Sun City Center, the Poulins and Bruce and Joan Anderson hosted four young Brits: lazy, single mom Caroline, rebellious smoker Jacqualine, fried chicken addict Kevin and pizza eater Sean.
The young adults trained for a week to face off against four other seniors in a quadrathlon (swimming, cycling, running and kayaking).
Meanwhile, they had to stay at the Poulin and Anderson homes to learn how to eat and live healthily.
The Times talked with the Poulins after their show made its American debut on the Discovery Fit and Health Channel in late June.
How did the BBC find you as the fittest seniors in Sun City Center?
Rolande: First of all, the BBC was looking for fit seniors in England, and there are no centers like this, senior retirement centers. … So then they came to the United States. They put out this bulletin which people were talking about, but I never responded. Then they got our names, and they came to talk to us and interview us in front of the cameras. We interviewed and they went back to England, and then they called us to see if we would take two of the four kids.
Do you consider yourselves among the top four fittest people in Sun City Center?
Bert: No (laughs).
Rolande: Well, I don't know. We'd have to say we're pretty fit.
Bert: There are a lot of fit people in Sun City Center.
Rolande: They also chose four other people to compete against these kids because that was the point. For 10 days they were getting ready to compete against these people. ... As they are in this house, our job is to get them breakfast, talk about what they're eating.
Was it hard to get them to eat healthy?
Rolande: Oh my gosh, they didn't like it.
Bert: The first day, when they arrived, we gave them V8 juice. Jacqualine took a swig of that, and she was gagging. She said 'This is awful.' It was just V8 juice.
Rolande: It was very hard for them. Of course, the boys were at the Andersons, and they are vegetarians. One of the boys was addicted to chicken. He ate chicken five times a day. He said, "I think I can eat anything as long as they're not vegetarian," and guess what, they were. It was pretty funny
. Did it get better by the end of the week?
Rolande: It did. They drank the V8. ... They would find the veggies they liked, and they were very happy to eat those. But they weren't going to go overboard for this.
If the BBC asked you do it again, would you?
Rolande: If they said we should talk to a couple of kids for a week, I might consider that. The cameras are what turned us off. You have to do something five times. We had counseling sessions. Even if the kids were getting very emotional, which they did talking about their lives, they would just make them do it again. You can't do something emotional over and over again.
Bert: The very last day they were leaving and the girls were crying because they had gotten attached to us. They were leaving, but the cameras were sticking around. So I asked them what they're doing and they said, "You know they're coming back, don't ya?" To take another retake. I said it was cruel. It was unfair. It was an emotional time, and then they did it again. That didn't fly with me at all.
Why do you think it's harder for today's generation to stay fit?
Rolande: For my generation, there was no television. You packed yourself a lunch, and then you took your bicycle. My sister and I would take 17-mile bike trips every day in the summer. In my kids' generation, there was television, but it wasn't as capturing as it is now. There wasn't any iPhones or any computers.
Then of course, there's the younger generation like my grandchildren. I feel so badly. They cannot go outside and play without an adult. It's just too dangerous to send your child out to play. And if you want them to go to after-school activities, that's great, too, but some parents just don't have transportation because they're working until 5. Did you notice any cultural differences between the British kids and your family?
Rolande: The language was fun. We each had fun trying to figure out what the other was saying. Just like the show is Are You Fitter Than a Pensioner? instead of a retiree. …We did surprise them, always. We were much fitter than they were even though they are so young. It's sad.
The questions and answers have been edited for brevity and clarity. Biz Carson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 661-2441.