PHOTO: Mary McCawley on bars
The unusual and very popular businesses in Atlantic Highlands never cease to amaze me and continue to make this friendly little community the go-to place no matter what it is you’re looking for.
So this week I discovered Cross Fit Five Points! Located on W. Garfield Ave., this brimming, loud, very busy large building is spilling over with exhausted, but very happy and determined people mostly young and in extremely great shape, who think it’s vitally important to improve or maintain their strength and body conditioning for a healthy life.
But I discovered there is life after 50 there as well. Call it Legends and meet a legend in his own right, Jay Carhart of Tinton Falls.
CrossFit Five Points is a branded, trademarked fitness regimen created by Greg Glassman and founded by him and his former wife Lauren Jenai in California more than 20 years ago. It operates under the philosophy of using elements from high-intensity interval training, Olympic weightlifting, plyometrics, powerlifting, gymnastics, calisthetics and a few other exercises, to give you the kind of body that can meet every day needs, stresses, and obligations. Classes are 45 minutes to an hour long, and include a warm-up, a skill development segment, the WOD, (workout of the day) a period of stretching and a cool down period. They use all manner of equipment to accomplish this training, things like wooden boxes and truck tires, oil cans and resistance bands, along with jump ropes, pull-up bars, kettlebells, medicine balls, and mats. The local CrossFIt Five Points center is owned by Karen and Evan Buckalew who do a dynamite job of keeping it a great place to be. But back to Jay Carhart.
Jay is the coach for the Legends group, the over 50 folks who want to live, breathe, and do things better in spite of aging, but know they’d be foolish to follow the regimen of younger folks. Not that Jay is easy on them. He’s no youngster, himself, and at 67, looks and acts downright fit, but since he’s in the same age group as his students, embues confidence in those in his three times a week classes.
Jay’s well experienced at all levels, and holds many certificates, including training, and designs a program for the older set in conjunction with the WOD, then watches them closely as they go through the regimen at their own capability, occasionally verbally prodding one, encouraging another, cautioning another to rest a minute. He keeps classes to small groups so he can keep a close eye on each and explains it isn’t so much a workout as it is exercise to improve the parts of your body you use in everyday life functions. He’s got tips for how to get up if you fall, the most common accident among seniors, how to carry groceries from the car to the house to the counter to the upper cabinets, all without endangering yourself.
Barbara Blauvelt of Middletown is a very young, very active 71-year old who laughs when asked why she does it. “To stay alive!” she chuckles while taking some deep breaths after a series of jumping rope. But seriously she adds, “So I can get my grandchildren in and out of car seats three to six or more times a day.” Dido Krekorian of Atlantic Highlands will admit to being over 60 but looks so much younger when she’s doing pullups on the bars.
“Because it’s phenomenal and makes me feel great!” she says, not even breathing hard. “I especially like the small classes so he can correct us if we’re not doing something right.” Mary McCawley comes from her Middletown home three times a week for the sheer enjoyment of it. She started a while back to get in shape for her son’s wedding, which she accomplished. But at 62, not only is she in perfect shape, she’s raring to go the extra mile or minute to accomplish the goals she sets for herself.
Jay lines the ladies up for a class, tells them to keep their water bottles close, joking, “and don’t think you can go over to the side to get water and take a few minutes’ rest…that’s the oldest trick in the books.” So is pausing to refix clips in your hair, he jokingly told Mary when her long hair fell out of its band and covered her face.
The warmups started with 10 pound round discs and back squats and a rhythmic up, down, hold, routine. “We’re burnin’ daylight” Jay yelled in approval.
There were routines to give upper arm strength, cut back on underarm flab, lots of "great job" encouragement, and some gymnastics. Jay brought out huge wooden boxes for the women to reach behind and hold on to while they scrunched to the floor and back. More arm exercise, he explained. He gave the direction for each to do six sets, then pointed to one of the ladies and said “I might make her do eight, she’s capable of it.” He did and she was.
There was jump roping and wow, these ladies could do that like little kids. All the while, alternating between rope jumping and weight lifting. There was applause, pauses for water, very little talking, but lots of camaraderie as each of the woman recognized the excellence and hard work of each other.
Then there was the cooldown. “Walk four blocks,” Jay instructed, “the cooldown is most important when you’re older.” So they trooped on out the door, these three women and me with a collective age of just under 300 years. They chatted gaily as they set the pace to walk. around the corner, down a couple of blocks and back to Cross Fits Five Points. They laughed at the suggestion to stop at the Flaky Tart Bakery on the way past. A great place for pastries and croissants , but a shop clearly not on that morning’s schedule.
MURIEL J. SMITH