At 91, Ocean View woman is queen of the gym


It’s never too late to start something new. And age really is just a number. Just ask Neva O’Hara, 91, a regular at World Gym in Ocean View. O’Hara has been a member since it opened and has met many friends along the way.

Coastal Point • Monica Scott: Neva O’Hara, center, is flanked by her friends at World Gym.Coastal Point • Monica Scott
Neva O’Hara, center, is flanked by her friends at World Gym.

“I work out every day,” said O’Hara. “I have to keep myself healthy. My family is far away.”

O’Hara said she has three children, six grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren and one great-great grandchild. They are scattered from Florida to Kansas to the Philippines.

She explained that she used to do yoga, but it wasn’t until after her children were grown and her husband passed away nine years ago that she really got into exercising.

“After my children were grown, I started to find me. When my husband passed, I started to do what I wanted to do,” she said, adding that they had been in the area 40 years.

O’Hara is just one of many people who have come to the area and retired and have found new hobbies, interests, and even new careers, once they get to Sussex County. And for O’Hara and her group of friends at the gym, it is as much a social event as is it for health.

“This isn’t retirement,” said Ted Andrews, who is 58. “This is our work!”

“We are all inspired because of Neva,” said Bob VanDerBeek, 68. “Here’s a woman who’s middle-aged,” he joked, “and she can beat any of us at jumping rope.”

“And she can beat us all at bowling,” added John Barreto, who at 48 is one of the youngest of the group.

“She puts us all to shame” he said.

VanDerBeek said the group is mostly all retired folks who met at the gym, and their camaraderie keeps them accountable and accounted for.

“We call, if one of us hasn’t been here in a couple days, and we check up on each other. You know, at our age…”

Paul Burguard, who said he and his wife are still part-timers and only come to the area every five or six weeks, added that O’Hara is one special lady.

“She is one of the classiest ladies you’ll ever meet,” he said. “She knows theater, books, movies. She can talk to anyone about anything. I look forward to just seeing her. She’s class all the way. Very unique.”
Coastal Point • Monica Scott: O’Hara jumps rope at the gym.Coastal Point • Monica Scott
O’Hara jumps rope at the gym.

O’Hara added that several of her friends helped her out of her garage when her door got stuck, and they mean as much to her as she does to them.

“They are my inspiration. They say I am theirs, but when I need something they are there.”

She added that she has a lot of lady friends, too. “But I prefer my guys,” she joked.