“Would you do anything differently in life if you had a do-over?” This was the question Barbara Foster’s 11-year-old granddaughter posed to her for a school project. She thought about it for a moment, and then responded: “Not a thing. There’s nothing I would change.”
That doesn’t mean life has always been easy for Barbara and her husband, Larry — but it has offered second chances.
The two met in St. Joe, Missouri, in 1978, both recently divorced. She was a skating coach, he was the newly hired director of parks and recreation, and upon meeting, there was an immediate connection. “I thought I knew a lot about just about everything in my business, including ice rinks, but people kept telling me to talk to Barbara because she knew a lot too,” Larry recalls. “Right away, it was clear she was pretty special.”
“Two years later, we were married with a blended family,” Barbara says, smiling. Forty-some years later, their family now includes four adult children and their spouses, as well as nine grandchildren who keep them on the go, which is perfect for their already active lifestyle.
In 2011, they joined the Life Time near their home in Omaha, where they’d relocated to in the late 1980s for Larry’s job. The club has been a part of their regular routine ever since. “Our health is key to us being able to enjoy life the way we want,” Barbara says. “Life Time makes a healthy lifestyle something to look forward to every day.”
Here, they each share their focus in a few key areas of healthy living.
Larry retired in 2018, about a decade after completing the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge, one of his most significant accomplishments as the director and administrator for the city of Omaha. He currently serves as president of a local foundation and devotes a good portion of his time to staying active and fit.
By working with personal trainers, Larry has identified his goals and objectives, along with the practical steps to reach them. He maintains a dedicated regimen that alternates upper- and lower-body workout days, mixed with cardio, and uses an application on his phone to track his physical progress on weights. He follows most sessions with stretching and foam rolling.
Meanwhile, Barbara continues to actively coach figure skaters and hockey players on their technique, while focusing on her own fitness endeavors of maintaining strength and flexibility.
Due in part to injuries that she suffered in her own ice-skating career, she’s had back surgery, knee replacement, and rotator cuff surgery. “Pilates has done wonders for me,” she says, crediting her relatively pain-free and active lifestyle to the low-impact exercise protocol, as well as specific exercises (adductor, abductor, torso twists, biceps curls, glute machines, and using the treadmill) and stretching.
“After so many surgeries, I find that I’m happier putting all that I learned into an independent routine tailored for my issues,” she explains.
Having supportive, comfortable gear is also important for avoiding additional injuries and sustaining her efforts: “My feet feel free in my HOKAs.”
On Eating Well
“You reflect the way you were raised,” says Barbara. She was brought up in a family that prioritized homegrown vegetables, sitting down together for meals, and overall eating healthy, organic foods.
“Larry wasn’t raised with that emphasis, but became exposed to it after we got married,” she notes.
The Fosters aim to stay away from processed foods, and are conscious of the quality of the produce, meat, and dairy they consume on a daily basis. They raised their kids and grandkids to do the same, and Barbara doesn’t hesitate to ask the server at a restaurant if the fish she’s ordering is wild-caught, for example, to ensure the optimal health benefits are there.
Convenience is also important to them, and having healthy grab-and-go options at the ready when they wrap up their late-afternoon workouts makes sticking with their plans all the easier. “Before you know it, it’s 6:30 or 7 p.m., and at that point I don’t feel like going home to cook,” says Barbara. “So, we often pick up one of the LifeCafe meals and feel very good about what we’re eating.”
Larry always shows up with a workout plan: He knows the exact exercises, number of reps, and amount of weight he’s going to perform. This structure allows him to identify the cause if he’s feeling extra tired or sore the next day.
Designated recovery days are also included in his plan. “On the days when I’ve done something pretty heavy, I take it easy the rest of that day and listen to my body,” says Larry. “If I’m sore, I will take a recovery supplement, and the next day be sure to stretch the proper muscle group well.”
Barbara is focused on maintaining her current fitness level. Her favorite form of relaxation and recovery is setting aside time for a Himalayan saltwater bath. “It’s good for my skin and my mental state,” she says.
On Staying the Course
Living a healthy lifestyle is empowering for Barbara and Larry. “There are things you can’t control and things you can,” says Barbara. “I can’t control whether I get a disease, but I can control my efforts to be a healthier person.”
Exercise can be intimidating and she admits to at times falling into the trap of comparison. While there will inevitably be individuals who are further along in their fitness journey, Barbara encourages everyone to simply start somewhere. “Don’t start with lofty expectations,” she advises. “Begin small and let it grow.”
Working out at the same time as Barbara is a strong source of motivation for Larry — her accountability encourages his consistency.
“There are days when I get up and things are going on and I’m not sure I’m going to find time for exercise,” says Larry. “But when I do, I’m always glad I did.”