As we age, things like weight gain, muscle loss, and general health decline seem inevitable. Sometimes that is the case, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Every now and then you probably come across an inspiring story of someone struggling with – yet overcoming – the reality of aging. This is one of them.
Meet Jacinto Bonilla, ‘Grandfather of CrossFit’
Since he was a teenage boy growing up in Spanish Harlem in New York City, Jacinto Bonilla has been around fitness. From boxing to martial arts and marathons to body building, he only learned about CrossFit from a Men’s Health article high intensity interval training (HIIT) in 2006. CrossFit is a style of fitness that is done at high intensity and incorporates elements from several sports and types of exercise.
Initially, it was exciting to think about but challenging to do since there were no CrossFit gyms near in his city. But it wasn’t long until a stroll through Central Park led him to a group of guys performing a combination of squats, push-ups, and pull-ups. Being the people-person he is, Jacinto asked to join and immediately fell in love. Since that day, Jacinto has worked up to doing CrossFit five times a week. But it wasn’t always easy.
Just two years later in 2008, doctors diagnosed Jacinto with prostate cancer. For a man with such mental and physical strength, taking a few months to recover and retiring from his job was not easy. But with every year he’s blessed with, he makes the most of it helping others achieve their own goals. What’s crazy is that, despite closing in on 80-years-old, he feels decades younger.
“I just don’t feel like I’m in my 70s. I don’t even feel like I’m in my 60s. I feel like when I was in my 50s.”
The ‘Jacinto Storm’
Since he turned 69, after beating prostate cancer, Jacinto has spent every birthday differently than the average person. While most people choose happily to relax, eat cake, and be merry, the 78-year-old New Yorker takes no days off. On July 3rd, he hits the gym same as any other day. But on his birthday, he completes a killer workout called the ‘Jacinto Storm’. What’s amazing is that he’s created a following of fellow CrossFitters who not only support and cheer Jacinto on but attempt the storm, too.
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The only thing different about this year’s birthday workout was one added rep to each exercise. Before starting the hour-long session, Jacinto warned people not to hurt themselves. Here’s what the ‘Jacinto Storm’ looked like:
- 78 double-unders with a jump rope (finishes with another round of these)
- 78 squats
- 78 push-ups
- 78 pull-ups
- 78 wall ball shots
- 78 kettle bell swings
- 78 deadlifts with a 90-pound weight
After making it through the storm without skipping or modifying a single rep, he received a wild applause from his friends and fellow gym mates. Jacinto Bonilla left them with one simple piece of advice: “If you keep it up, you’ll be fine at 78, too.”
It rings true. No one is saying you must invest five days a week into CrossFit specifically. That’s simply unrealistic. The important takeaway is staying active no matter how old you get. Jacinto feels almost thirty years younger than he actually is – but that feeling doesn’t come without effort. Here are some ways to keep your health from declining from year to year.
Healthy Aging: How to Feel Young and Stay Strong as You Get Older
According to the Cleveland Clinic, the most important guidelines for fostering healthy aging includes the following:
- Eating a healthy, protein-rich diet
- Keeping hydrated
- Staying at a healthy weight
- Sleeping 7-8 hours every night
- Being physically active
- Not smoking
- Not consuming more than two alcoholic drinks a day
- Getting routine exams and screenings
But what exercises are safe and effective for someone over 40-years-old?
The short video below outlines a perfect 5-minute beginner’s workout for anyone who wants to stay strong without equipment or a gym membership. These exercises will engage your entire body and take no time at all! Do these three exercises three times each.
- Step back lunges
- Knee-to-elbow crunch
After mastering this beginner’s workout, you can on to trying more diverse or complex routines such as the ones listed below. Or you can speak to a personal trainer at your local gym and see if there are any classes that would benefit your specific needs.
Disclaimer: Always consult your physician before beginning any exercise program. This general information is not intended to diagnose any medical condition or to replace your healthcare professional. Consult with your healthcare professional to design an appropriate exercise prescription. If you experience any pain or difficulty with these exercises, stop and consult your healthcare provider.
 Frumin, A. (2017, July 19). Meet the 78-year-old ‘grandfather of CrossFit’ who can probably bench press you. Retrieved October 18, 2017, from https://www.today.com/health/crossfit-meet-78-year-old-grandfather-who-still-crushing-it-t113699
 This 78-Year-Old’s Birthday Workout Will Wreck You. (2017, July 24). Retrieved October 18, 2017, from https://www.menshealth.com/fitness/78-year-old-crossfit-workout
 Men’s Health: Lifestyle Tips for Men Over Age 50. (n.d.). Retrieved October 18, 2017, from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/mens-health-lifestyle-tips-over-50
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