No rocking chair for this rocker Fiftysomethings: There's no reason why Mick Jagger can't keep on keeping on.


In 1977, Mick Jagger first sang, "Start me up, I'll never stop."

Now, at 54, as the Rolling Stones begin their "Bridges to Babylon" tour, the legendary rocker has proved that phrase was more than a lyric. It's a way of life.

"He's lean, he's athletic, he's out there running around like a 16-year-old," says Greg Isaacs, corporate fitness director for Warner Bros. and personal trainer for celebrities including Melanie Griffith and Goldie Hawn. "I doubt he eats cheeseburgers every day."

Other aging acts, such as the Eagles and Fleetwood Mac, have hit the road lately as well. But they're not as famous as Jagger for his incredible moves and stamina on stage, which require substantial work.

"Hours of torture every day," Jagger is quoted as saying about his regimen for 1981's "Tattoo You" tour in Christopher Andersen's unauthorized biography, "Jagger." "Stretching, gymnastics, running. You can't do what I do onstage for two and a half hours without being in shape, and it's much harder as I get older."

That was 16 years ago.

Today, the Rolling Stones, famous for excess in the arenas of wine, women, song and everything in between during the past 34 years, still have a Jumpin' Jack Flash in front man Jagger.

"Obviously, he has great genetics," says Ray Kybartas, Madonna's personal trainer.

Kybartas is right. Jagger's father, Basil, was a physical education expert who taught and delivered lectures on the topic. He turned Mick on to strenuous exercise routines as early as age 3. Mick himself taught physical education, and his father's early teachings followed him into his adult life. He is somewhat of a fitness fanatic, occasionally incorporating karate into his rigorous training.

"He's been doing this for so long, he knows what works for him," says Isaacs, author of "The Ultimate Lean Routine."

Jagger does retain a personal trainer, Torje Eike. Eike refused to be interviewed from the Four Seasons hotel in Toronto, where he was rehearsing with the band last week.

But more forthcoming physical trainers have their own advice for Mick.

They agree that regardless of his verve and fitness history, there are things to look out for as you get older: most notably, flexibility, recovery time and nutrition.

"As we age, we tend to lose our flexibility," says Linda Ciotola, a certified health education specialist and personal trainer working out of Severna Park and Columbia. "I'm 50 years old myself, so I can speak from personal and professional experience."

Muscles do tighten up with age, Ciotola says. She recommends strength training to keep bones healthy.

Isaacs suggests yoga and massage, especially after a performance. Massage and rest are key to recovery, he says.

"With rigorous touring, your immune system will break down," Isaacs says. "Your recovery rate slows down a bit when you get older."

But by no means do the Stones, after a night's performance, have to return to the hotel room for a cup of tea and a round of Euchre before retiring for the night.

"Party, have a good time, but make sure you recover," Isaacs says. "If they can still party, go for it."

If Mick does hit the local pub, he needs to keep the alcohol and good-time foods to a minimum, says personal trainer Jill Koval-Kahler. Kahler, owner of Mr. Jill's Body Firm Inc. in Tustin, Calif., would advise Mick to stay away from the brown sugar and any other foods that may deplete energy.

"I would have him write down everything that passes his lips," she says.

Jagger's trademark lips always get a workout. To go on tour, the rest of him needs specialized training, Kybartas says.

While preparing Madonna for her Blonde Ambition and Girlie Show tours, he used interval training, which consists of high-intensity exercise broken up by recovery periods. This training focuses on the fast-twitching muscles that accommodate the explosive, stop-and-go activity involved in performing, Kybartas says.

Ciotola notes that Jagger isn't the only middle-aged rock star with a fabulous physique and endless energy.

"Look at Tina Turner; she's [about] the same age as Mick, and obviously she's in great shape," she says. "It's use it or lose it."

There's no reason to feel sorry for older rock stars, as long as they take care of themselves and maintain a positive state of mind, Isaacs maintains.

"As long as he's rocking and rolling, there's no pre-determined age when he should stop," he says. "He's defying age right now, and it's awesome."

Now if someone could just get Keith Richards on a treadmill.

Pub Date: 9/23/97

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