One step at a time, with one foot in front of the other, Redondo Beach resident Paul Senior successfully scaled 180 flights of stairs in the first ever World Trade Center stair climb to raise funds for the Captain Billy Burke Foundation.
At 73 years old Senior, who came in second place in his age group, says he is in the best shape of his life. He’s completed a total of seven stair climb events, all annual events held in renowned skyscrapers across the country.
Until about seven years ago Senior wasn’t much of an athlete. But, he decided that he wanted to loose a few pounds and tone up a bit. He had no idea how much he would enjoy trying a variety of workouts and never envisioned himself getting hooked on stair climbing events.
His first stair climb event was the YMCA Ketchum Stair Climb for Los Angeles. Senior climbed 1,005 feet to the top of the US Bank Tower, downtown LA’s largest building. Participants raced or walked up 1,664 steps, a total of 75 stories, in support of Ketchum-Downtown YMCA programs.
Once he had a taste, he went back a second year and did it again. Then he went on to climb the US Bank tower in Minneapolis, Minn., in the “Fight for Air” event that benefits the American Lung Association, and another “Fight for Air Climb” in Los Angeles at the AON Building. Then he participated in “Hike the Halo,” climbing up and down the Angel’s stadium to benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
Senior’s inspiration began with a contest to lose weight through the Beach Cities Health District’s health and fitness programs.
“I was told exercising is the key, not dieting. So, I signed up with a trainer. In a lot of the classes, it’s mostly women and retired people. One day the instructor came in asking if anyone wanted to participate in a stair climb and no one said yes. So the next time she asked, I raised my hand,” said Senior. “We started doing leg exercises in class to prepare for the climb. She came in first in her age group and I did OK for mine. After that one last year, I got hooked on it and have signed up to do them in several cities.”
He has selected climbs in cities where he has relatives and visits them while he’s there. His wife is a former American Airlines employee, so they fly standby and are able to save money on tickets.
To him, this seventh climb is a deeply important one and it was somber in nature. The Captain Billy Burke Foundation and the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation teamed up to host the climb to raise funds for wounded veterans and to help educate children who’ve lost a parent in war. Burke and Siller both lost their lives while saving others in the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center. Siller was off duty when he ran with more than 60 pounds of gear through the blocked-off Brooklyn Battery Tunnel to the World Trade Center. Even though he knew that the south tower had already fallen, Burke chose to remain behind to rescue two workers, one in a wheelchair.
While Senior didn’t trudge up the 180 flights of stairs wearing any gear, the task of climbing 90 floors was daunting enough. Stair climbing isn’t all that the retired statistician does to stay in shape. He will try just about any class offered through BCHD.
“I’ve always had two left feet. But I wasn’t afraid to tryout the Zumba classes. There aren’t many men that will go to the Pilates, the spin classes, the boot camp program or the Yoga classes, but I like to try them all. I was the only man in the Zumba class and I really enjoyed it,” he said. “During a fundraiser at Suzy’s bar the band was playing Latino music and I was able to get out on the floor and do the right moves, with my wife’s permission of course, I even danced with a waitress there.”
Senior said working out in the gym and trying new exercise routines has not only been good for his physical health, it has also resulted in his personal growth.
“I used to be a shy person, but I’ve grown out of that. Anyone can get into better shape and just know you don’t have to look like a Kardashian to be in good shape. Everyone’s body is different, but everyone can do something to exercise.
“All it takes is to just keep putting one foot in front of the other,” he said.