Local gym encourages older generation to get fit

Dave Lonergan lifts through a workout at the Agate Pass Crossfit gym. - Richard D. Oxley / North Kitsap Herald
Dave Lonergan lifts through a workout at the Agate Pass Crossfit gym.
— image credit: Richard D. Oxley / North Kitsap Herald

POULSBO — CrossFit gyms have sprouted across the Northwest as the latest trend in fitness. With that trend has come images of mega-lifting, tire flipping, and any extreme boot-camp style exercise that leaves people soaked in sweat and breathless on a gym floor.

“CrossFit is viewed as an aggressive hardcore program by a lot of people,” said Julie Morse with Agate Pass Crossfit. “Like you are going to come in and flip tires, climb that rope to the ceiling, do muscle ups, all these things that the extreme athletes can do. That is not true.”

The Agate Pass Crossfit gym off of Highway 305 on the outskirts of Poulsbo promotes itself as an inclusive gym, where all fitness levels are welcome. To prove it, the gym is starting a new program aimed at people who think that CrossFit, or any form of exercise, it beyond their reach.

“This if for anybody that thinks they are too old, too big, too small, too fragile, too intimidated to walk into another gym,” said Dave Lonergan, a member at the gym.

Lonergan actually came up with the idea: a CrossFit exercise program for an older generation, or those who need a slow start, such as people who are overweight or injured. It’s something Lonergan knows about, personally.

“My body has 60 years of experience,” he said. “Mentally and emotionally, I can’t tell ya, it’s a lot younger than that. And being fit is one reason for that.”

After visiting a few gyms with little success, Lonergan tried the CrossFit angle of exercising in 2011. He’s stuck with it ever since.

“I’ve been to some of what we call the big box gyms, and you are on your own, unless you pay extra for a personal trainer. And the personal trainer there is going to hurt you, I know from personal experience,” Lonergan said. “I didn’t get into exercising until the spring of 2011, and I didn’t know that I was fat. I took pictures and I look at them and I’m grossed out. I’m looking forward to retirement now, and being able to do stuff.”

“As people move toward retirement are they going to be able to live it, or will they just exist?” he added. “I take the ferry back and forth to work everyday, and I see people in their 30s and 40s that aren’t in as good of shape as I am, maybe because they have families they need to care for and they put (health) on the wayside.”

Lonergan wanted others to experience what CrossFit has done for him, at 60. So he approached the coaches at his gym, Agate Pass CrossFit, with a proposal. They loved it.

So what is CrossFit?

CrossFit has earned a hardcore reputation based off of a rather public, and competitive. Athletes go muscle-to-muscle in exercises at CrossFit games. But the other side is not often seen; a workout community.

CrossFit runs people through a series of exercises, different each time in order to gain the most benefit. A coach is there each step of the way to help you along.  A coach such as Tony Gasbarri.

“We break it down to your fitness level,” Gasbarri said. “It only varies by degrees. We have lead athletes working next to our grandmas.”

“There’s a sports aspect of it,” he added. “And then there is a general fitness aspect where everyone wants to live a better, healthier life. That is where most folks are at, where they just want to be better at life.”

The coach, the encouragement and the community really sets the program apart, Morse said.

“If you go to a gym, you will probably get on a treadmill and do 20 minutes of this, and 20 minutes of that; what you do every time you go,” Morse said. “You get a lot more out of your body if you do different movements every day than if you do the same movement everyday.”

But what really sets CrossFit apart, Morse said, is its community. No one is alone on their journey to better health.

That’s where Lonergan’s program comes in; a CrossFit community for those who think good health is out of their reach.

Lonergan notes that CrossFit is designed to scale exercises to the level of each member. People can do the same exercises, but not everyone will be at the same level.

“I scale,” Lonergan said. “Most of the women here can out lift me, and I’m not ashamed of that. In the games this year there was a 71-year-old, 74-year-old, a 76-year-old, and the 74-year-old and 76-year-old beat my score.”

“With every work out you can scale to your fitness level and many people don’t realize that,” he said. “When you have someone coming in at 50 or 60 years old and wants to compete against a 30-year-old, something is going to give and it’s usually the older guy.”

Lonergan will help build this new community along with gym coaches.

“Everybody who applies to do this, I am going to have them sit down and write out 50 things that they love to do,” Lonergan said. “Then go back and put a check mark next to every experience that could be improved if they were fit. That could be playing with grandchildren, it could be walking on the beach with their wife or husband, it could be gardening or hiking.”

The gym is currently organizing the program, and will announce its first meeting date on its website, The gym can be contacted at 206-619-4076 or

“On of my goals is to teach people to listen to their body,” Lonergan said. “And to push themselves and to compete with themselves, not really with anybody else … I consider this more of a life change and I’d be more of a life coach.”

Lonergan will personally keep in touch with participants with positive messages and checking in if someone falls behind.

It’s about helping people become healthier, and living a more positive life as they head into their golden years. For Lonergan, it’s not only about being healthy, but helping others.

“I’ve known people that have passed away and my idea of success has changed,” he said. “It’s not how much money you got, how many toys you got, but it’s how you have impacted people in your life. My goal is to have a positive influence on people now.”

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