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‘He motivates this class:’ Forsyth County man completes 700th 'boot camp' workout at age 76
Cumming Fit Body Boot Camp
Ed Merves, 76, recently completed his 700th "boot camp" workout at Cumming Fit Body Boot Camp. - photo by Kelly Whitmire

Ed Merves turned 76 on Sept. 25, but on Monday he celebrated another big milestone.

Merves, who retired as a psychiatrist five years ago, celebrated completing his 700th “boot camp” workout at Cumming Fit Body Boot Camp off Bethelview Road on Monday, Sept. 27, where other gym attendees brought gifts and balloons to celebrate the achievement and his birthday.

“This place has made a difference,” Merves said. “I’ve been coming here for four years now, and I feel better now than I did before I retired five years ago.” 

Program director Monica Rank said Merves began training in October 2017 as part of the gym’s former Fit Forever program for seniors. 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Rank said the Fit Forever program was dissolved, but Merves continued with the workouts. 

“When we opened the gym back up, we were doing at-home workout videos originally, and Ed started working out at home, and then we opened the doors to the gym, he wanted to be here, but he didn’t want to be around people,” Rank said.

“So, he came in while we were doing our video every day, and he worked out behind the scenes, so he was at his gym, but he wasn’t here when there were a lot of people here.”

Rank said Merves continued his workouts alone before joining the gym’s 9:30 a.m. class.

“If you look around, you’ve got a lot of 30-somethings in here, you’ve got some women and men in their 40s and 50s that work out at this time, we don’t have anyone else who is in their 70s,” she said. “Ed is it, and he motivates this class. He’s got relationships with these people.”

Those relationships were clear at the start of the workout, as members of his class and other classes came out to celebrate the 700th workout, which ended with each participant doing 76 jumping jacks or standing jacks to celebrates Merves’ birthday.

“It’s beautiful,” he said of the reaction. “I love it. It’s awesome.”