The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

Fitness: a family affair

From left to right, Victor Sr., Victor Jr., and Gilbert Lagunas exercise in City College’s North Gym

Drops of sweat collect on the rubber-padded floors of the City College gym as Victor Lagunas Sr. approaches the 10-mile mark in his workout riding one of the schools stationary bicycles. Lagunas biked 13 miles on this day, one more than his usual 12.

At the 13-mile mark Lagunas stops. Momentum from the turning wheels carries his legs through a few more pedals until he comes to a rest. He takes the white gym towel draped around his neck and wipes the sweat from his thinning gray hair and forehead. His two sons, Victor Jr. and Gilbert—also wrapping up their workouts, come over to meet their 90-year-old father, as they have after every workout for more than a decade.

The Lagunas family’s tenure at City College spans over 50 years. Lagunas’ oldest son Victor Jr. attended classes in the mid-1960s, graduating with an associate’s degree. Lagunas’ three other children followed suit, each spending time at City College before transferring to four-year institutions.

“All of us went to City College. It kind of runs in the family I guess,” said Lagunas’ second-oldest child Gilbert.

Upon retirement in 1982, Lagunas started taking courses at City College. He has enrolled in at least one class each semester since.

He started by taking physical education and German courses and over the years his course work has focused primarily on physical fitness.

“When I first started, I used to run in Land Park, three miles. And there was a ski class at one time and it used to take us to alpine meadows to ski, that was is my early ‘70s,” said Lagunas. “I just like to keep busy.”

In 1999 Victor Jr. became the first of the Lagunas children to return to City College, joining his father in a circuit training class. Five years later, Lagunas’ younger son Gilbert joined them in their fitness courses.

“We kind of figured we might as well keep up with what he’s doing; maybe keep us young too,” said Gilbert.

The third of seven children, Lagunas was born in El Paso to a father who had recently immigrated from Chihuahua, Mexico. Lagunas became a journeyman machinist in his late teens, working for Southern Pacific Railroad in El Paso. At 18 he was drafted by the Army and called to fight in World War II where he served as a tank mechanic on the front lines in France and Germany until the war ended in 1945.

After the war Lagunas returned to Texas and went back to work for Southern Pacific as a machinist, a role he held with the company for the next 36 years until his retirement in 1982.

In 1953, Southern Pacific downsized its staff for financial reasons. Lagunas’ job in El Paso was along those to be eliminated.

This prompted a major change in Lagunas’ life.

“They downsized and they said if you want to stay with the company you have to go to Sacramento, so I decided to move to Sacramento,” said Lagunas.

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“When he was at Southern Pacific he would run from the rail shop on Jibboom [Street], through Old Sac, to Miller Park, then back to the shop,” said Victor Jr.

After a brief health scare in the mid 1960s, Lagunas became even more dedicated to physical fitness, and gave up a smoking habit he had developed since returning from the Army.

“I just didn’t think I was getting anything out of [smoking],” said Lagunas.

Outside of exercising at City College, Lagunas says he keeps himself busy with household tasks at his Tahoe Park home where he has lived since 1960, and by spending time with his children.

“My wife passed away 14 years ago this month, so I do my own laundry, cook my own meals, wash dishes and work in the garden,” said Lagunas. “And Gilbert helps me a lot.”

While many at his age require assistance, Lagunas remains independent; living on his own with help only from his children.

“I tried to hire a gardener to cut his grass, but he didn’t want that,” said Gilbert.

“Why pay somebody when I can do it?” said Lagunas of his son’s offer.

Lagunas and his sons credit his longevity to a lifelong commitment to physical fitness and to his family’s history of good health, despite the occasional bad habit.

“His older sisters are 92 and 91 and his mother passed away at 93, and she smoke and drank,” said Victor Jr.

When he was younger, Lagunas played handball, volleyball, and racquetball. Now, at 90, he gets most of his physical activity through the stationary bicycles at City College, something he says he plans to continue doing “as long as I can.”

“I think maybe [Lagunas] will workout at City College until he is 110 years old,” said Gilbert, adding that he and his brothers plan to continue working out with their father.

“We will never quit; it is too much fun watching all the young people drop like flies and not making it to the end of the semester,” he said.

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