Northforker 50+: His mission to help baby boomers get fit

(Credit: Peter Farrar, courtesy)

(Credit: Peter Farrar, courtesy)

When Peter Farrar first visited Shelter Island, it reminded him of growing up in New England.

The New York City advertising executive recalled summers spent on Martha’s Vineyard and Cape Cod during that first trip to the Rock, around 1980.

“I didn’t know anything about the East End of Long Island,” he said. “But it felt like Cape Cod, and I really liked it.” 

So began Mr. Farrar’s slow journey toward becoming a full-time Shelter Island resident. At first, he’d spend his summers here with his wife, Carol, and their three young children.

Three years ago, after Carol lost a battle with breast cancer, Mr. Farrar was facing a period of change.

The Farrars had run their company together, with Carol focusing on sales and marketing, while he managed production. In his mid-60s and seeking new opportunities outside the five boroughs, Mr. Farrar turned to the house on Shelter Island.

Now 68, he has reinvented himself as a personal trainer, with a goal of encouraging other baby boomers to focus on improving their health. Mr. Farrar teaches five fitness classes a week at Shelter Island Yoga & Fitness at the Dering Harbor Inn in Shelter Island Heights. He also does one-on-one training with a couple of clients.

Ultimately, he’d like to have a full slate of clients 60 and older who want to get fit. It’s an idea he had while reading a health article on baby boomers and how the body changes after age 60. He thought of the size of that market and how much potential there was for people to live a healthier lifestyle.

“There’s a need to sell more baby boomers on physical fitness,” he said.

Those needs include disease, injury and pain prevention — all elements Mr. Farrar focuses on with his older clientele.

(Credit: Grant Parpan)

(Credit: Grant Parpan)

While his initial vision was to work primarily with the over-60 crowd, it hasn’t exactly worked out that way. The pool of potential clients is limited on an island with fewer than 2,500 year-round residents. Instead, he has a mix of ages in his classes.

He’s now trying to spread the word about his mission and potentially reach people on the North and South forks.

Always active in sports — from skiing to tennis — Mr. Farrar first gained certification as a trainer “for fun” while still working in advertising. Today, he also has advanced TRX certification, which he calls “a terrific exercise regime, utilizing body weight for resistance.”

The key for any baby boomer turning to fitness after a prolonged period of inactivity is to develop a consistent routine, Mr. Farrar says. He says that you should plan to work out for five to seven hours per week and should not be surprised if you don’t start noticing results for several months.

“You really have to have a good fitness program,” he says.

And, he adds, you should also stay active outside the gym, finding healthy activities and eating well.

“Fifty percent of it is in the kitchen,” he said. “You have to eat a clean and nutritious diet to manage your weight. It’s not just exercise.”

The best part of Mr. Farrar’s career reinvention, he said, is the interaction with people. In advertising, you spent the day with other people in advertising. In fitness, you meet folks from all walks of life, he said.

And he feels right at home on Shelter Island.

“This has always been home, in a way, these past 30 years,” he said. “New York was a place to work.”