Anyone who has ever started an exercise program knows how easy it is — easy to start and, in fact, even easier to quit. Sticking with the program is the hard part and as we get older it gets harder yet.

But some people not only stick with it, but also excel at it. U.S. 1 tracked down a handful of hardworking professionals who manage to squeeze rigorous fitness activities in to their every day lives. For some of them the goal of being fit at 40 has turned into the reality of being fit at 50 — and beyond. How do they do it, and why are the questions for this informal panel of fitness experts. The following profiles were published in conjunction with U.S. 1’s annual Health & Fitness Directory.

Entrepreneur/Hockey Player

By day Richard Olsson, owner of a pharmaceutical software and consulting firm ECT LLC (www.ectrain.com), develops software systems that provide operational support to pharmaceutical companies. Its main product is a customer relationship management system used by remotely deployed medical and sales personnel to collect and analyze information regarding their activities. Olsson’s company, with offices in Pennington and Bloomfield, Colorado, also provides software and consulting services for clinical trial data management, speaker program management, territory alignment, and reporting and analysis.

His career track could be traced back to his college days — he was a chemistry major at the University of Colorado at Boulder, Class of 1980, and has an MBA in Decision Sciences from the Wharton School. But, as he explained to U.S. 1’s Barbara Fox, that college experience also fueled a life-long passion for ice hockey:

Hockey is great exercise, a great test of your skill, a social event, and there is no real top age limit. Sure, every year you get a little slower, and every year your shot is not as hard, and every year your passing is not as accurate, but it’s gradual. Age is the great equalizer. Today you find yourself competing against players who — 20 or 30 years ago — you could never be on the same ice with. We have a guy on our team, Ian Orr, who won two NCAA championships at Cornell with Ken Dryden as his goaltender. How cool is that!

I’m 50, and I run the 40-and-over team of the Princeton Hockey Club. We practice and play our games at the Lawrenceville School rink. Every March we host the Mid-Atlantic “C” Cup Invitational, an over-40 tournament that draws teams from all over the state plus New York and Pennsylvania.

At 50 the aches and pains don’t go away as fast; the bruises don’t heal as fast. Does that affect the way we play? No. There are groups who go out and skate just to get some exercise, but the team I run — we play the game hard and to the best of our abilities. We all played competitive hockey in college and still enjoy stiff competition and challenging games.

Everybody refers to me as the coach but I’m more like the team manager. I’m the guy who schedules our ice time and arranges games with other teams. My co-coach, John Hartmann, takes care of the club’s finances and steps in when I’m not available. We practice once a week from September through March and play one or two games a weekend starting in November. I have about 25 guys to select from to field a team for any given game. Since most of us, myself included, have kids playing the game, we usually end up with just the right number, 13.

Hockey is not as expensive as you might think. The equipment is expensive but it lasts a long time. Our annual club dues are $700, which includes all our ice time, referees at games, and of course cold beer for our post game analyses.

My father never played hockey — he was a high school wrestler, but my brother and I played both hockey and lacrosse at Princeton Day School. I played varsity hockey for four years in college and after graduating I kept on playing, even as I worked fulltime at Betz Labs in Pennsylvania, or getting my MBA at Wharton, or working full-time at Bristol-Myers Squibb.

In high school and college, I was the goaltender. A successful goalie can’t worry about the goals that go in. When a goal was scored upon me, I quickly would analyze what I could have done to stop it and then get ready to stop the next shot. That is the same way I approach running my company. You are going to make bad business decisions. You need to learn from them and use that knowledge to make a more successful decision the next time.

When I started my first job after college I joined a recreational hockey team. There were 30-year-old guys on that team, and I remember thinking it would be a real accomplishment if I could play until I’m 30. I’m 50 now and do not see ever see ending my career. The gentleman who ran the Princeton Hockey Club before me, Sandy Edwards, has started a 50-and-over team. There will always be another team to play on.

Iceland, 6 Tennis Court, Hamilton 08619, www.ice-land.com, 609-588-6672, ext. 15 (Jessica Keane). Open Hockey three-month pass, $100 plus $9 admission per session ($4 for goalies) or summer non-check league, $400.

Princeton Sports Center, 1000 Cornwall Road, Monmouth Junction 08852, www.princetonsportscenter.com, 732-940-6800, ext 23. Ted Annis (E-mail: tannis@princetonsportscenter.com) Adult Hockey & Power Skating, July 1 to August 31, Tuesdays from 9:15 to 10:15, $260. Also adult leagues.

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