PARAMUS, N.J. — What once seemed impossible to Paramus resident David Wilcomes has become the only thing he says will get him through his cancer treatments: CrossFit.
"If I can do it, anyone can do it," said Wilcomes, 65, as he emerged from beneath a 135-pound barbell after lifting it five times above his head.
The former Union City high school principal and longtime runner was diagnosed with prostate cancer this summer. That was around the time his daughter, Dana Wilcomes, convinced him to come to a Father's Day session at the gym.
"I figured I would do it for three months to make her happy and then stop," said Wilcomes, who was barely able to squat in June. He demonstrated — effortlessly — that he can.
"All of a sudden I saw myself progressing," he said, "and being able to do things I didn’t think I'd be able to do."
Slight modifications, constant instruction and encouragement from other athletes is what Wilcomes says keeps him coming back twice weekly.
"Being in shape is going to help you get through what you need to," he said. "But the people are what make this place."
Wilcomes knows that his friends from Guerrilla Fitness will be there when he begins radiation treatments in December -- the same as they do when his legs are about to buckle during a workout.
"I saw it when Dana was in the police academy last year," Wilcomes said. "She was getting emails and notes saying 'Keep up the good work' and they threw her a party.
"My daughter was just telling me today it's almost like a family atmosphere."
A family that wouldn't be complete without Wilcomes.
"Everyone looks not only to support him but for support — he's filled with knowledge," Guerilla Fitness owner Joe Ghaznavi said.
Wilcomes will need to bring Ghaznavi a doctor's note if he wants to keep training, the owner said.
"We'll do our best to help him fight this little bump in the road," he said. "I have no doubts he's going to conquer it."
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.