'Fitness Instructor of the Year for Seniors' motivates Houstonians to exercise

It's more important than ever to stay healthy and boost your immune system during the pandemic. Exercise and the right instructor can help.

We met up with the nation's top-voted senior fitness instructor, who happens to live in Houston!

Eliot Perez is a Fitness Instructor for SilverSneakers & YMCA. He has an important mission in life. He strives to motivate others to be their healthiest, especially seniors.

"Eliot is just generally something else. Yeah, he is one of a kind. He does so many different things. And he loves what he's doing with the seniors, and you feel it when you feel the love from him," state Bill and Becky Ligon.

They've been working out, under Eliot's instruction, for years. His workouts helped Bill lose almost 100 pounds!

Eliot's motivation to help seniors is fueled by the loss of his dad. While he adores helping enhance their lives, he believes we all can.

"I think we tend to forget about our seniors that are in our lives. You think that they're at home. You think that they're sitting around twiddling, sewing, crocheting, or playing checkers or dominoes. That's not what they want to do. They want to be more active. And what I realized, being in class and teaching, these elderly was the fact that they are young people trapped in old folks bodies is what they said. And because they want something to do. We want to get them out of the seat, we don't want them sitting watching TV, and just retiring that way. A lot of them do want to be active, but sometimes they want to be pushed or need to be pushed," states Eliot.

Eliot's enthusiasm about fitness is contagious and got the attention of the YMCA's National SilverSneaker's Program. Out of 3,000 nominations across the country, Eliot was just named its "Instructor of the Year".

"It's exciting, because I always wanted something like this, not be recognized for it, but for the fitness aspect of it! The more I help others - making them feel good, live longer, healthier lives," says Eliot.

He has gotten creative to keep seniors active throughout the pandemic, by providing free online videos, so they wouldn't put their health at risk in class.

"It's so funny because he makes it feel like you are there with him, and he will say these little funny snarky things like, I know you're complaining stop complaining, just do it. So I feel like ‘oh my gosh he sees me complaining’.  I mean it's just really a lot of fun," says Margo Toomes.

Here's a little taste of what he encourages them to do: "Just get up, get off your chair. Stand up, do some little bitty exercises that you wouldn't normally do,” Elliot says. “Now, it depends on their level of fitness, it depends on what they can do. They can just simply move their arms up and down, just, move your body. My main thing is getting up and down from the chair, I think that's so important. I don't ever want to see anybody stuck in some awkward position, because their mobility is not the same as everyone else's, so my main thing is to learn how to get up and out of the chair. Sit back down, get back up. Sit back down, you'll see that in a lot of my videos that I do.”

 You can find Eliot's motivating videos here:  https://www.youtube.com/user/GetfitwithEliot