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So much of our culture is centered around fitness for weight loss. Peter Nathan, owner and director of Gunx CrossFit in Gardiner, places an emphasis on strength training and preventative health and has been able to help people transform their bodies, minds, and lives. “It’s really rewarding, especially to see many of our female members start out hesitant to lift anything, then get a lot stronger and lift impressive weights,” he says. “It’s been very empowering to them to see their physical strength increase because, for many of them, that translates to emotional strength and social strength.
Nathan, age 60, has 30 years of formal experience in physical training. He was an athlete through high school, then joined a professional modern dance company in college. “I realized I couldn’t make much of a living through dance, but physical movement has always been my passion, so I studied applied physiology in grad school and worked for one of the first PT studios in New York City,” he explains. He became a physical director at a YMCA, then worked in a cardio pulmonary and orthopedic rehab center for 10 years. When he had enough of the insurance companies dictating how he can best treat a patient, he opened a Pilates studio in his native New Jersey. He moved to Gardiner four years ago and established the CrossFit center in a barn on his property.
“It was small and there was very little insulation, so it was cold in the winter, and there was no indoor plumbing,” he says, “but it was fun and we developed a real community over three years. Once we hit about 50 members we needed a bigger space. We’ve been in our new location for about a year and it has showers, more room, and it’s located right next to the rail trail, so you can go for a run through nature then come in for strength training.”
Nathan ensures that his five-person staff and the gym’s members focus on communal support. “We’re not like those places where you get on an elliptical, plug into a TV or whatever and avoid talking to anyone,” he says. “My gym sets aside particular times for small groups to work out. Everyone kind of looks out for each other and encourages each other; some even choose to go get coffee together after workouts or organize hikes to the Ridge. We have a great group.”
As for his personal fitness goals, Nathan is attending the finals in the annual CrossFit Games this month. “Three years ago they started the Masters competition portion, which is open to people over 50,” he explains, “and only 20 people in the world are going. It’s airing on ESPN mid-July and is sold out. This is usually the type of show a person sees on TV that makes them feel intimidated by CrossFit gyms. There are some fantastically strong and talented people, that’s true, but everybody starts somewhere and needs instruction at some point. That’s where I can help. It’s what I love to do.” Gunxcrossfit.typepad.com