What to Know
- Too old to work out? That's no excuse for 80-year-old CrossFit trainer Jacinto Bonilla
- Bonilla runs an affiliate CrossFit facility out of his Sunset Park home, training navy seals to working moms
- After four years of running his successful personal training business, Bonilla has decided to retire and just work out for fun
Too old to work out? That's no excuse for 80-year-old CrossFit trainer Jacinto Bonilla.
Bonilla runs an affiliate CrossFit facility out of his Sunset Park home, where he helps everyone from Navy SEALS to working moms achieve their fitness goals.
From early childhood to senior citizen status, the fitness role-model has always loved pushing himself to his physical limits.
After years of running marathons, participating in bodybuilding competitions and practicing karate, Bonilla said he needed a new challenge. When he discovered CrossFit at 66 years old, Bonilla said it was just what he was looking for.
The popular workout regimen pushed Bonilla to approach exercise in a whole new way. As opposed to body building, for which he remained in one place while lifting heavy weights, CrossFit required him to keep moving and complete multiple sets of high intensity exercises within a given amount of time.
“I thought I was in great shape until I found CrossFit,” Bonilla said. “That really humbled me.”
When he turned 67, Bonilla took on an additional challenge for his birthday -- one set of exercises for every year of his life. He has tacked on one extra set every year since, and recently completed 80 sets in honor of his 80th circle around the sun.
After four years of running his successful personal training business, Bonilla has decided it is time to retire, but that does not mean he is slowing down. His new goal is to workout for fun and get back into bodybuilding competitions.
“I enjoy competing,” Bonilla said. “Even though I know I'm not going to win because [my competition is] younger than I am. If I show up, and my foot hits that competition floor, even if I'm dead last, I'm a winner already.”
Additionally, Bonilla will continue to train a few loyal clients and friends. Teacher and mother of three Samantha Santiago started training with Bonilla two years ago, and said she never wants to stop.
Santiago said she loves how Bonilla’s CrossFit affiliate is a stress and judgment-free zone, which cannot be said for many mainstream gyms. Bonilla’s program also offers her challenging and exciting workouts -- not to mention Bonilla himself, who inspires her to reach new heights in her fitness journey.
“You never know what you’re capable of until you try,” Santiago said. “I hope that at 80, I can be a third of what he is.”