Conversation with High Riser: Eli Portnoy

By Liz Lang

Excuses, excuses, every personal trainer, lifestyle coach, and doctor has heard ‘em all—“I don’t have time/money, my motivation is hiding in a box tied to an anchor at the bottom of the ocean, just thinking about that number of reps got me winded, etc.” Another frequent misconception—“I’m too old to get healthy.” If someone told you that, they lied. Rise Bar advocate Eli Portnoy couldn’t agree more. Only about a year ago, he embarked on his healthy lifestyle decisions and plans to continue inspiring people, mainly the baby boomer generation, to make the same changes. Originally he came from New York, but throughout his professional life he’s been able to live all over the US. Most recently he’s lived in Los Angeles, CA, Portland, OR, and currently he resides in Miami Beach, FL. Eli is the last living member of a small family. Though they all passed due to cancer, including his only sibling at age 59, he has taken it in as inspiration to take his body and personal fitness to new heights.

In his early years he played tennis and even succeeded in playing competitively in college. Also in college, and throughout grad school, Eli found an interest in long distance running until a serious knee injury forced him to reconsider the activity. Through his 40s, Eli began serious lifting/fitness conditioning and body building; but like we said, he didn’t really start sculpting his body until a year ago! After training with top fitness trainer and competitor Pete "Steel" Stellato, Eli felt like his life and body were changed for the better. He pays homage to LA based sports trainer/nutritionist Mike Orr for teaching him proper nutrition. At almost 60 years old, Eli was able to completely transform his body and is now inspiring men over the age of 50 all over the world. He truly believes that anyone, even average guys like him, can naturally achieve a healthy, and physically fit body with the right training and diet.

These days, Eli, finds inspiration in each new day living beach side. He told Rise Bar, “Watching the sun rise over the ocean every morning and being grateful I’m able to live here is my daily RISEpiration.” He strives to honor his family by being the fittest and healthiest he can be. Eli describes CT Fletcher as a “54 year old powerhouse of a man who influences him to work harder than he could have thought imaginable, though he has a somewhat unorthodox approach to fitness.” Rise Bar asked him who he would pick if he were able to go on a run with anyone, dead or alive and he responded, “Richard Branson—the Virgin brand guy—my hero. He might not be an athlete, but his vision about the world excites me. I would love to pick his brain while running along the beach on his private island in the Caribbean.”

Recently, Eli hit a big milestone when he was asked by a noted fitness photographer to do a shoot despite the fact that he was far away, and not to mention the oldest guy he had ever photographed. He confessed, “I was so nervous, but it was so rewarding at the same time.” Believe it or not, he’s preparing for his very first fitness contest, coming up mid-year, where he will be competing with “kids” in the 20s and over bracket. “I suspect I will be the oldest guy there, but that only makes me work harder,” he expressed.

Committed to becoming one of the most physically fit, 60 plus year old men in the country, Eli will attempt a series of fitness competitions over the next few years. He hopes to become a sponsored athlete with fitness product companies, because he’s a firm believer that age is not relevant to becoming a role model in this field. His advice to folks looking to get into shape is to focus on seeking out good instruction. “Not only for training your body, but also—more importantly—learn how to eat properly. Lots of fit people think they know how to eat, yet few really understand how the body works with food.”

While on his search for healthy, natural bars to throw into his lifestyle, just as he was about to give up, Eli discovered Rise Protein+ Bars. “Most bars that I tried gave me stomach problems because of the weird ingredients, or just tasted awful or had too much sugar or salt. I truly love Rise Bars and have introduced it to a lot of my fitness friends (and non fitness friends) who all now are hooked. I have not felt such a connection to a food product ever in my life and have become one of your biggest fans,” he says.

If its one thing Eli understands about the body and soul, it’s the need for “Eli’s Margs” as his friends call them. His guilty pleasure on a Friday night includes whipping up some of what he calls the “world’s best margaritas” with some good friends. Eli also enjoys fine art collecting, cooking, mentoring young people, and Zumba. For more about Eli, visit his Facebook page.

Photography by FuriousFotog