Ed Gross, age 95, says movement is the key to longevity.
He’s more adept on the dance floor than most 20-year-olds, and at 95, Ed “Babe” Gross is one of greatest motivators at the YMCA West workout area. In fact, he and Wife Martha Ann, age 85, are most days either working out or dancing somewhere together. “It helps keep the weight off and has definitely helped me stay healthy,” says Gross, who has been working out, instructing dance or dancing himself most of his life. A regular fixture at Y West, Ed drives Martha Ann and himself from their home across town for weight training and cardio workouts no less than four days a week.
According to Jared Jackson, senior service associate, “There is nothing about Ed that isn’t remarkable. You can’t help but love his candor. He is not afraid to tell it like it is. He pushes people to be the best they can be. He’s told me a time or two that I need to get going [with workouts]. I can’t help but love his straightforwardness. His very presence, at 95, brings along so much vitality and drive. He is an inspiration to all of us.”
Known around the area for his skills as a dancing instructor, Gross got his start in 1947 as a square dance caller while employed with a local insurance company. According to Ed: “The company coerced me into calling. About 40 people showed up and only five of us could be talked into training as a caller. The first time I tried, they asked me to sing the calling, and I completely butchered it because I was not a singer. My voice cracked. I was terrible,” he says.
Ready to hang it up, Gross was asked to try again but this time he would just speak the calling. “It surprised me when they called back and explained there are two kinds of callers, speaking and singing. I eventually got the hang of speaking the calls, but at first I would have to watch the dancers to even know which moves I was calling.”
Through the years Gross danced with partners Martha Ann or his eldest daughter, Rhonda, and taught line and ballroom dancing five days a week while working as a supervisor of data reduction with the Missouri Highway Department. He was a known and loved instructor at Capital Ritz for many years.
Before his professional career, Gross was a radio operator on bombers during World War II and then came home to complete his Bachelor of Science degree in business administration from the University of Missouri in a quick three years.
When asked about his secret to longevity, Gross, without hesitation admits, “I don’t have time to slow down. If I slow down, I’ll die. It drives me crazy to sit around anyway.”
YMCA West is located at 3507 Amazonas Drive.
“There is nothing about Ed that isn’t remarkable. You can’t help but love his candor. He is not afraid to tell it like it is. He pushes people to be the best they
– Jared Jackson, YMCA West