Already a runner, archer, weightlifter and cyclist, Falkville Councilman Charlie Gover is taking up scuba diving at 70

By Michael Wetzel | Living 50 Plus

Charlie Gover isn’t about to slow down at age 70.

The former high school coach who serves on the Falkville Town Council has just begun taking scuba diving lessons. He’s fitting the lessons in between weightlifting, pickleball, table tennis, archery, bicycle riding, spelunking and running.

Gover goes out of his way to stay in good physical shape. When he’s not exercising and competing, he’s busy cutting grass and doing lawn care for extra money in his retirement.

Staying active is nothing new for Gover. He played football and basketball at West Limestone High where he graduated in 1970. He ran track at Calhoun Community College and then Austin Peay University in Clarksville, Tennessee. After college he taught at Danville High for 26 years while also serving as an offensive and defensive line coach, strength coach, cross-country coach and track coach. He later coached cross-country and taught health at Sparkman High.

At Austin Peay, Gover outran several Southeastern Conference runners and set records in the indoor mile, outdoor mile and outdoor 2-mile race.

An injury playing softball hurt his running times, he said, so he turned his attention to weightlifting.

At the age of 53, at a meet in Talladega, Gover said he set records in the 195-pound class. He said he lifted 400 pounds in the dead lift, 200 pounds in the bench press and 265 in the squat.

“I’d like to think I can do it again,” he said.

At age 60, when he was teaching health at Sparkman High School, he said he was doing 55 pushups, four times a day.

Gover, who is married with two grown twin daughters, said he tries to lift weights Monday, Wednesday and Friday and bicycle at least 10 miles every Tuesday and Thursday.

His high-energy level comes from his desire to compete and watching what he eats, he said.

“I like to compete. It hurts me to lose,” he said. “I quit running for competition in 1995 when I finished fourth in my age division. I play to win. If I can’t win, I find another sport.”

He knows the importance of staying away from certain foods.

“No soda, no candy,” he said. “I drink a lot of water, lemonade and Gatorade. I eat oatmeal or bananas just about every morning. Everybody is addicted to something. I’m lucky to be addicted to running, addicted to training. My body couldn’t handle alcohol. I try to lay off sugars. But I will visit Morgan (Price) Candy for chocolate once or twice a year.”

“It’s important to keep moving, keep the body weight down.”

Falkville Mayor Ken Winkles said Gover, who is in his third term as a councilman, is serious about his fitness.

“When I was a police officer in Falkville about 20 years ago, I’d see him out running every day,” said Winkles, 60. “He was running in the rain, running in the snow, running in the heat. He’s so dedicated to being physically fit.”

Winkles said Gover brings that energy to the council meetings.

“He attends about every meeting,” Winkles said. “He’s obligated to the town. He’s out mowing grass around town.”

So why has scuba diving caught Gover’s fancy lately? He said a fellow spelunker, Don Chavers, 74, of Priceville, is teaching him the basics, and Gover hopes to be certified through an area dive shop by next summer.

“I want to scuba off of Key West (Florida). That is where the gold is,” Gover said with chuckle. “It’s a great way to help me stay fit, too. It’s a good exercise for older people. It works the arms and legs and lungs.”

He’s not a complete scuba diving rookie, however. He said on vacation in 2001, he did a dive on a tour along the Great Barrier Reef northeast of Australia. The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral reef system with nearly 3,000 reefs and 900 islands.

Gover also said he remembers attending a short scuba class in the Calhoun Community College indoor pool in 1985. Calhoun Athletic Director Nancy Keenum said the college closed the pool for good in the early 2000s. The college bookstore now sits where the pool was located, she said.

Chavers said Gover is doing well after two lessons in the water. “He’s setting a good example at his age,” Chavers said. “He’s athletic and that helps him.”

What advice does Gover offer others wanting to stay fit?

Eat berries and research the latest diet and fitness methods, he said.

“Eat good, eat less and keep active,” he said.