Every morning, Klaus Obermeyer, founder of Sport Obermeyer, the Aspen, Colorado-based outerwear company bearing his name, wakes up and works out, much like many men in America.
He swims a half-mile, lifts weights, rides the stationary bike at the Obermeyer offices, practices a Japanese martial art called aikido, and stretches.
The difference between you and Klaus: He’s 98 years old.
“I really do anything and everything—exercise is exercise,” Obermeyer told he’s absolutely right.). “Overall, I try to use all of my muscles regularly. The muscles you don’t use eventually disappear, because nature thinks if you’re not using them you don’t need them.” (For the record:
For Obermeyer, fitness comes naturally — he’s been on the move for most of his life. He started skiing in his native country of Germany at age three, by nailing shoes to skis made out of a thin orange crate board. After coming to the U.S., he landed a gig as a ski instructor in Aspen in 1947, when the sport was still just taking off and Aspen was just a semi-deserted mining town. Inclement mountain weather proved no match for the snow gear of the 1940s, which consisted of little more than two-piece suits and layering. Tourists didn’t want to ski because it was too cold.
“I learned how to make things early on,” Obermeyer says. “I could weld aluminum and had a passion for skiing.”
So he decided to put his technical experience to use, assisting at factories to help make ski gear lighter, improving its quality. His goal: “to attract others to the sport I so dearly loved.”
Obermeyer went on to stitch together the first down parka from a goose down comforter his mother gave him before he moved to America. He also created the first high alpine sunscreen, nylon wind shirts, mirrored sunglasses, double-lensed goggles, and two pronged ski brakes, among other innovations that changed the ski world. Since then, Sport Obermeyer’s products have since always focused on performance, sourcing high-tech functional fabrics and implementing them into smart designs.
At 98, on bluebird days in Aspen, you’ll likely find Obermeyer participating in his favorite sport—skiing, which he does on a regular basis.
“I ski whenever it’s nice and you can see where you’re going,” he says.
He credits his longevity, in part, to his continued stress-free focus on health and fitness. “I live healthily and work out every day in order to keep my body as strong as possible,” he says. He also doesn’t overeat, drink or smoke. He avoids sugar (“a poison right now in our health”), drinks a lot of water, and eats a vegetable-focused diet.
As for the inevitable stressors that emerge when you’re at the helm of a successful company? He takes them in stride, too. “You must be nice to your problems. Those problems are our teachers,” he says. “When we start to walk as babies, we fall and that is a problem. But it eventually teaches us to walk.”
But in addition to that, he tries to create win-win situations—for himself and everyone he comes into contact with. As he puts it: “I think finding out the best way to dance through life without making enemies is important.”
This, he says, is what has helped Obermeyer succeed for over 70 years.
“It makes me happy to have great friends who are more successful together,” he says.
“You have the opportunity to make life better for other people because you are here.”