A generation I started lifting weights when I was 65.I work for a real estate company in Michigan About 35 years later, when I retired, I decided I wanted to lose a little weight. A friend’s husband, Art Little, a personal trainer, invited me to his gym. He introduced me to weightlifting and is still my coach.
The first time I went, he gave me a broom to lift. The next day I told myself I wasn’t coming back, but I heard a voice in my head telling me to go back. And just like that, I came back day after day. A few weeks later, my coach encouraged me to go to games and watch other people play. I’m really amazed by all these young women, but none of them my age. I asked my coach if he thought I could do it, and he said, “Oh, sure.”
The first time I raced was at the state convention. There were about 45 people of different ages, from teenagers to people my age. There are only three of us in our age group. I did bench presses, deadlifts, and squats—three types of weightlifting in powerlifting—and came first in all three. I’m surprised I won because others have done it longer. I didn’t come in until two months later and wiped them all out. After that, I knew weightlifting was for me.
My trainer makes me go to the gym 3 times a week. I’m progressing so fast because I’m consistent. If I’m supposed to be there on Monday, I’ll be there, whether it’s a holiday, rain or snow. I haven’t missed a day – that’s the weight I’m lifting now, albeit slowly. Every year, I am getting better.
When I started lifting, I could bench press around 36-41kg, but now it’s 91kg. My top squat weight is 188kg and my deadlift has increased from about 36kg to 188kg. I am the world record holder for all three in the 60+ age group.
I didn’t do any exercise when I was young; I was lazy. By the time I was in my 60s, I was tired all the time, and when I was showing houses as a real estate agent, I would be out of breath as I went up and down the stairs. It’s embarrassing. Now, the doctor tells me that my heart is strong and healthy.
My father is a workaholic. He worked in a steel mill and passed on his work ethic to me. He instilled in me the idea that you have to be consistent and determined to make any progress in life. I still train three days a week, and each session lasts one to three hours. Commit to one of three weightlifting projects every day. I also do a lot of different exercises in the gym to get my body ready for competition, like leg presses, squats, and pulldowns.
Working out can be challenging at times, but whenever I get home I feel great. My coach is really proud of me.I have been invited to the world championships every year since I started weightlifting and have won in my category every time. Younger competitors tell me that when they get to my age, they want to be like me. The judges were blown away by the weight I could lift. People often look at me and say, “Oh, she can’t lift that.” I like to surprise them.
It can be expensive, though – there’s a lot of travel involved, and a professional kit, like a squat set, costs between $200 and $500 (£243-£404). I supplement my income by delivering meals.
I’m 79 now and I tell my peers they can do the same; they just need to be consistent and start small. You have to build yourself. If it’s not weightlifting, do something positive. You have to move your body. If you sit down and do nothing, you will turn to dust.
When I’m out and about, neighbors ask me if I’m the lady who lifts weights. My daughter is a nurse, and her colleague asked her if she also does powerlifting. She didn’t, but she was proud of me. My son likes me doing this. His friends said he should go to the gym and he told them it was his mother’s business. I lift more than him.
My goal is to have a combined weight of 454 kg (1,000 lb) in all three events by the time I compete in the World Championships in November.Although my greatest achievement is progress my health. As long as I keep my body fit and my mind strong, that’s all I care about.
As told Amy Sergey
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