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A passion for functional fitness isn’t something you’d expect from a man approaching his 100th birthday, but Dr Bill Mason is hooked on CrossFit despite never having lifted a weight before suffering a stroke two years ago.

Fortunately, the Canadian experienced no problems with brain function after the health lapse but his mobility was severely affected.

So he started looking for ways to improve his condition. "I find that the time sort of hangs heavy on one's hands at this stage in life,” he told CBC News from his CrossFit gym in Charlottetown. “And I'm very interested in finding something new that's different - that's why I'm here.

"I figured out that part of the wobbliness was that I was very weak. It wasn't so much a neurological deficit, but I figured if I could get the strength component dealt with, then I would be less wobbly... I'm getting strength, which makes me less wobbly on my feet."

Bill would never have thought of taking up the sport if it hadn’t been for the suggestion of his son Patrick, but now it is having a tangible benefit on his quality of life.

Mike Ives, Bill’s coach who works with people of all ages, said: "We've actually seen pretty significant progress with him even in the last five weeks. He has been using his cane a lot less, even through the workouts where he used to have to hold on to a post and do any kind of dumbbell work. Now he's just standing free and clear.

"The guy's amazing."

Mike says Bill is motivating and humbling to all of the other athletes at the gym, including a number in his classes who are into their 70s and 80s, and that he’s inspired the whole community. 

"They really kind of all rally around each other,” Mike added. “But having somebody new who's 96 actually shows some of these guys... it shows them a path."

Unlike a lot of athletes who might obsess over setting new PRs or taking their fitness to the next level, Bill’s appreciation for just being able to enjoy the sport is particularly refreshing.

When asked how long he plans to keep lifting weights, he replied: "Well, you'll have to ask the person who made me. I'm not in charge of that. I can't tell you how long I'll be coming, but I'm pleased to be able to be here today."

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