Don’t tell Charles Nailen he shouldn’t do something.
At age 66, the Dothan business owner is more active than most people half his age.
An avid runner for many years, Nailen decided he needed another challenge.
That’s when he decided, at a friend’s suggestion, to take up the intense strength and conditioning program known as CrossFit.
“I’ve been a runner for a pretty long time,” said Nailen, who chairs the Dothan Houston County Airport Authority and owns local KFC and Taco Bell restaurants. “My friend, Dr. Sib Turner, found out about CrossFit when Landon and Keisha Brazell opened CrossFit Embrace (in Dothan). He signed up probably six months before I did and kept nudging me to go check it out.”
He finally decided to take the plunge four years ago.
“I stepped across that threshold, and that’s the hardest step to make in CrossFit,” Nailen said. “I found a bunch of welcoming folks there. It was awesome.”
Regular physical activity has always been a part of Nailen’s life, evidenced in his participation in the Army Ten-Miler race every year since 1997.
But with CrossFit, he took things to a new level.
“I need a little extra stretching to get (ready),” Nailen said. “I’m not going to be the fastest or lift the most weight, but you can always count on me to finish. It’s the same with running. People say, ‘What was your time?’ At my age, it doesn’t matter. What’s important is I came through finish line upright and under my own power, and there were still a lot of people behind me.”
He said he uses CrossFit to build himself both mentally and physically.
“It’s not only physical strength, but finishing (routines) develops a mental toughness that’s transferable to most anything else in life -- to your job, any kind of stresses the day or week might throw at you,” Nailen said. “It helps you develop the mental toughness to get you through it.”
And the hard work – Nailen says he goes to the CrossFit facility four days a week – has paid off.
“It’s pretty intense and can be a little intimidating to folks initially, but I’ll be 67 in January, and within the first six months of going there, I was already in pretty good shape but I dropped over 20 pounds,” Nailen said. “My blood pressure dropped to where I no longer needed medication. My cholesterol came to be what my cardiologist refers to as the envy of most anyone. I do have a minor heart problem, had a couple stints shoved in 10 years ago, and I probably strived to prove you can come back from an event like that. There’s no limitations put on me by my doctor.”
Nailen said his doctor shakes his head in disbelief when told of Nailen’s CrossFit workouts.
It all owes to an inner competitive spirit.
“When I get an annual stress test done, I want (the doctor) to look up how long I went on the treadmill last time, because I want go for a (personal record),” he said.
Nailen admitted he may be the oldest person currently participating in CrossFit in Dothan.
Just don’t call him old.
“Maybe I’m a little older than most that work out at CrossFit Embrace. I may be the oldest there that works out on a regular basis, but if I can do it, I think most anyone my age or even older can give it a try,” Nailen said. “There are so many benefits – heart benefits, less stress. It gives you a positive attitude and mental toughness, surrounding yourself with a great bunch of folks. If you want to be a better person, start going to CrossFit Embrace. It’s been a great blessing.”
He said the regular prayer sessions and sense of community keep him attending CrossFit.
His workouts are so regular, in fact, that he shows up to Airport Authority meetings wearing his CrossFit gear.
And at 66, he says he doesn’t plan to slow down any time soon.
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