Living Stronger: CrossFit fan, 77, works to stay fit and challenge others

Living Stronger is a “CBS Evening News” series celebrating the people leading the way to longevity -- and inspiring the rest of us.


NEW YORK -- At a high-intensity workout in New York City, Jacinto Bonilla is redefining what it means to be physically fit.

For an hour, Bonilla keeps up with the repetitious CrossFit routine -- jumping on a 24-inch box, doing handstand push-ups and climbing a 15-foot rope -- all alongside gym members more than half his age. 

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Jaconto Bonilla does a handstand pushup

CBS News

At 77 years old, why does he push himself so hard?

“Because I like it, I love it,” Bonilla said. “I want to stay out of the nursing home.”

Bonilla is the oldest man to compete in the CrossFit Games, going up against men a decade younger. CrossFit is the fastest-growing fitness movement in the world.

In 2008, Bonilla stopped training for two months to take on his biggest challenge yet; He was fighting prostate cancer.

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Jacinto Bonilla

CBS News

“I get a little emotional at this,” he said. “I always been in healthy shape, I always watched what I ate and I came down with prostate cancer. I had it taken out, and started coming back.”

Now cancer-free, Bonilla has challenged CrossFitters around the world. Each year, they mark his birthday by doing six exercises like pushups, squats and the kettle bell swing to match his age.

This year would be 78 times, all in one sitting.

Two years ago when no one would give him a job as a CrossFit trainer, Bonilla built a gym in his basement and got his own clients, including former Navy SEAL Luke Mason.

“He’s got years of experience on me,” Mason said. “It is a testament; the guy is 77 years old, he’s got something to teach.”

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“I love being strong. I love being able to move. A lot things that a lot of young people cannot do, or are not willing to do,” Bonilla said.

Motivation, inspiration, perspiration; His recipe for living stronger.

  • Michelle Miller

    Michelle Miller is an award-winning CBS News correspondent based in New York, reporting for all CBS News broadcasts and platforms. Her work regularly appears on the "CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley", "CBS This Morning" and "CBS Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood". She joined CBS News in 2004.