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Exercise through my life. Giancarlo, 77, Milan, Italy
Giancarlo on the golf course

April 2024 – Interview by Beatrice Ferrarini

Theme: Exercise

Exercise through my life.
Giancarlo, Milan, Italy, 77

Born in San Remo in 1947, Giancarlo’s lifelong relationship with exercise and fitness has been a close one. From his early days in Milan, where he graduated from the prestigious Institute of Physical Education (ISEF) to his career as Professor of physical education and also tennis coach, Giancarlo has always been deeply immersed in the world of sports and fitness. Today, as an entrepreneur and avid amateur golfer, his passion for wellness and athleticism continues to drive him forward. Moreover, Giancarlo’s role as the former president of the Italian regional rugby federation speaks volumes about his dedication to promoting sports and physical activity. In this interview, Giancarlo shares his insights on exercise, longevity, and ageing well, drawing from his wealth of experience and expertise in the field of fitness. 


Giancarlo in a gold buggy in the rain

The weather doesn't stop Giancarlo

TCL. What exercise do you do now? How does it make you feel? Has it changed as you have got older? 

Giancarlo. I play golf, and it makes me feel very good when I play well (he laughs). Performance is important to me. The sense of satisfaction that I get from achieving good results in sport remains a fundamental driving force for me. This has remained unchanged throughout my life.  

 Some things have changed as I have grown older though. I am much more able to assess the ability and strength of my opponents. I have also become a little wiser too. When I was younger the only thing I wanted to do was to win. I had to win over everyone. I of course stayed within the rules, (he laughs)!  

 It’s a common misconception that golf is a sport reserved for older individuals. I used to think this was the case too. However, when I started to play myself, I quickly realised its physical and mental demands rival those of any other sport. While the nature of effort, intensity, and performance in golf may differ from more physically demanding sports, the level of dedication and skill required is no less significant. Playing golf myself has shown me that the unique challenges it presents are just as demanding when compared to other sports. 


Black and white photo of Giancarlo playing tennis

Giancarlo as a younger man playing tennis

Tennis was the sport that I took up first, and I picked up a racket at an early age. However, it was rugby that truly captivated me, not only for its physical demands but also for its emphasis on teamwork. Following rugby, I ventured into baseball, even reaching the finals of Serie C with hopes of advancing to Serie B, albeit unsuccessfully. At times, I found myself juggling multiple sports simultaneously before eventually I found my way to golf. 

Giancarlo playing baseball

I have always been incredibly fortunate to have had coaches who were not only exceptional in providing technical instruction but who were also mentors in life. They shared wisdom that extended far beyond the realms of sport. These teachings were invaluable to me, offering a unique perspective that enriched my understanding and appreciation of life both on and off the field. 

The relationship with my current golf instructor is different from the one I had with the instructors when I was younger. While it’s undeniable that learning can come from anyone and everyone, and that valuable insights and assistance can be gained from various sources, this relationship does feel different. At 77 years old, with a lifetime of experiences and now with some physical limitations, it can be challenging to position myself in relation to a 30-year-old teacher.  

 TCL. What makes it tough to exercise regularly, even when you know it’s good for you? What would make it easier for you? 

Giancarlo: Personally, one of the major deterrents for me to regular exercising is monotony. The relentless repetition of the same motions I find can be incredibly draining. This is particularly true in sports like golf and tennis, which are highly technical. To address this, I’ve found that having a supportive coach during training sessions is incredibly beneficial. For instance, my current golf instructor plays a key role in making the necessary repetitive practice sessions more engaging. Through observation and feedback, he introduces subtle variations into the routine. When a coach understands your psychology and personality, they can tailor the training to keep you engaged. In the end, you may have hit just as many balls, but with significantly less mental effort. 

Giancarlo with his golf coach

"There's a sense of belonging and support that comes with engaging in activities alongside others who share similar interests."

TCL. What could your government, local community or where you live do to help you exercise more? 

 Giancarlo. Ensuring accessible infrastructure at reasonable costs is a top priority. Alongside this, it’s important to establish centres that offer a variety of activities, tailored to different ages and skill levels. This includes ensuring that staff are well-trained to provide suitable programmes, particularly for children. It’s clear that there’s a distinction between those learning new skills and those honing existing ones. However, infrastructure alone isn’t enough; a supportive network is also essential. 

In addition to infrastructure, the presence of green spaces and pedestrian areas is invaluable. These areas offer opportunities for a range of activities like running, walking, walking the dog, providing immense benefits to everyone. 

Thankfully, I am sufficiently motivated to stay active. For me, it’s primarily a matter of willpower and personal motivation—an issue that’s largely mental and, I must admit, social. For instance, I’ve noticed groups of friends cycling together not solely for the love of cycling itself, but because of the camaraderie it fosters. There’s a sense of belonging and support that comes with engaging in activities alongside others who share similar interests.  

Giancarlo with his golf team

Giancarlo with his golf team

TCL. How do you know what’s good advice for staying healthy? Who do you trust?  

 Giancarlo. Thankfully, my values and beliefs enable me to discern between various pieces of advice about enhancing my performance or my health. I place great importance on the evidence supporting any claims. I’m not swayed by anecdotes shared among friends at a pub or on social media. Instead, I prioritise information that is scientifically backed. While there may be claims circulating on social networks about miraculous remedies or performance-enhancing techniques, such as the man who said he has become the fastest man in Europe thanks to taking collagen.  

Giancarlo hugging a golf friend

Giancarlo and friend. Photography by Ambra Guidetti

TCL. Do gadgets like phones or watches help you exercise, or do they make it harder? 

Giancarlo.  I must say that I have found technology to be incredibly helpful, for instance, when it comes to tracking the distances, I walk and how high. It also adds an element of motivation. Having access to statistical data allows me to analsze and monitor my progress over time. It’s fascinating to see trends such as my average daily distance walked or the number of elevation gains achieved in a week. Moreover, having access to other health-related data that correlates with these activities adds another layer of insight. Overall, technology has made the process of tracking and analszing my physical activity not only convenient but also engaging and stimulating—a positive  rather than a negative. 



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About Voice Italia

Established in 2023, Voice Italia is part of Voice Global. Its aims are to leverage the wealth of talent, imagination and human creativity within the Italian community. Voice Italia is supported by Fondazione Ravasi Garzanti with contributions of Fondazione Cariplo and Fondazione Amplifon. You can find out more here.
Beatrice Ferrarini is the Human Experience Designer for Voice Italia. You can contact her  here.