Physical health concerns led Tom to CrossFit. But, like so many other athletes, he quickly discovered the mental, emotional and real-world benefits of a constantly varied, high-intensity workout. Now, at 81 years young, Tom hits the box twice a week where he continues to challenge himself and enjoy the endorphin rush that comes with a tough WOD.
A conversation at a local wine bar in Park Slope inspired Tom to give CrossFit a shot. He’d just undergone open-heart surgery and suffered a series of small strokes. Although he’d never been athletic or belonged to a gym before, he didn’t want to “just sit in a rocking chair and wait for death.” Tom knew his bartender was a CrossFit instructor and asked if he thought the coaches at 718 might be able to help. The bartender put Tom in touch with Coach Iz, and, after getting clearance from his doctor, Tom began to train.
“Israel was really patient and nurtured me along,” Tom said. It wasn’t long before Tom started noticing results, both physical and mental. “I’d been a little depressed,” Tom said. “Once I felt the endorphins kick in, I thought, ‘Let me stick with this.’”
PRs – In and Out of the Box
Tom has a few PRs for which he’s particularly proud. His sumo deadlift PR stands at 165lbs. “I was amazed I could pick up that kind of weight.” Rowing is also a strong movement for him; he recently clocked 12:35 on 2000m row.
But his most celebrated record was set out of the box when he confidently lifted and carried a 40lb bag of pebbles for his wife’s garden. Tom’s wife (and his neighbors) were understandably impressed.
CrossFit for Seniors
When asked why CrossFit is a good fitness option for seniors, Tom points to his own health record. Since starting
CrossFit, Tom has not experienced a reoccurrence of his previous heart issues. He’s normalized his blood pressure
without the use of prescription drugs, and he generally feels and looks healthier. His cardiologist tells Tom that he’s one of his best patients.
Tom also made the point that, although other athletes may be working faster or lifting heavier weights, the core of CrossFit is accessible to all ages and abilities. “The technique is same for everyone,” he said. “You may be working at a different level, but you can still get the benefit.”
Above all, Tom believes in the mental and emotional benefits of CrossFit for seniors. “After a workout, your mood changes. You feel refreshed and encouraged,” he said. “Life is not over. Here I am, 81 years old, and I’m still going strong.”
Written by: Jenessa Connor