“Monday morning came early for me, and I don’t see my trainer’s car outside the gym. Strange, I think, because Victor usually arrives before me. Just as I strolled through the door I heard him slipping up behind me and I whirled to throw him a cheery “Good morning.” He throws his arm around me as if to reaffirm the mutual respect and friendship we’ve forged over the last fourteen years. We often joke about him being the only man that can tell me what to do.
I got started with my warmup as Victor lined up my weights. The routine we do is very different on different days. Every now and then he will change my workout to help me gain more strength. Halfway through my routine I look at him and say, “I need a challenge.” His answer back to me was “You need a challenge, Marie? I don’t understand. You don’t feel the workouts we do are challenging enough after all these years?” He looks at me with anger as he throws a ten pound weight on the floor.
“My intentions have been to keep you toned and healthy, not muscle bound. If you feel you need a challenge I will see what I can do.” After he said that we finished our workout.
I looked at him going out the door, “I don’t mean to insult you. I just need something different.
His reply back was “I said I will see what I can do, Marie. I will let you know Wednesday.” He then walked away.
I walk into the gym Wednesday morning only to see Victor has beat me there this time. Heading in his direction, I say “Good morning, how are you today.” His face expression was calm this morning as he looks at me. Then I relaxed.
“I’m good Marie, what about you? Are you ready for a challenge?”
“Are we doing something different this morning?”
“No, not really. I’ve spoken to a friend of mine, and she’s made a suggestion.”
“Do you know what powerlifting is?”
“Well, it seems you can go to USF University and sign up with the seniors.”
“You’ll be doing squats, bench and dead lift.”
I listen to what he is saying to me, but I do not understand. He looks at me and continues to tell me to just go sign up. Then we can take it from there. The good thing was he was calm when speaking to me, so I knew he was no longer upset with me. When we finished working out he gave me the address to the other gym then let me know we can finish talking about it on Friday. I felt good when we left.
I swing into the parking lot of USF the next morning. The sun shines in my face as I walk toward the front door. As I stand in the hallway I look all around. It looked identical to my gym except for it was much smaller. I do mean much smaller. I introduce myself to the trainer, Will. I ask, “Would you please explain power lifting to me. I need to know the do’s and don’ts.”
I felt the conversation was quite intense but then so was Will. He was very thorough with me. Some I understood and some I didn’t. A thought stuck with me while he was talking, that being stance and form. Form when doing these workouts is most important. If done incorrectly sprained or broken bones could result. Broken bones is where I don’t want to go.
The classes were at 9am Monday, Wednesday, Friday. I didn’t have a problem with that. In fact, it was a great time for me to work out. That is my usual time at present. I paid for the month with the intention to start the next Monday. As I walked outside I saw three ospreys flying high over my head. To me that means Father, Son, Holy Spirit. I took it as a good omen. I felt I was doing the right thing.
One day falls into another and I push my body to increase my weightlifting. When I asked for a challenge I got one. This power lifting is not for sissies. I often wondered where all this began as in power lifting. Wikipedia let me know Greece was where it all started. The men picked up heavy rocks which created competition amongst the men. The dead lift alone is a strength sport that consists of three attempts at maximal weight on three lifts.
Working with my trainer Will is not easy for me. When you do something wrong he makes you do it over till you do it correctly. He reminded me of my aunt who raised me. I had to iron a shirt over four times till it was perfect. She would stand and watch me till it was right. Will, does the same thing. I understand it’s to my benefit, so I always listen without speaking.
My love is the bench. My body is lying on a bench to which I take a loaded bar at arm’s length and lower it to my chest. Once this is done I push that bar with all my strength. It releases so much stress due to the adrenaline pumping as you push up. I then do what they call “rack it.” That’s returning the bar to the rack.
The one I don’t like is the “squat.” It starts to where I stand erect. The bar is loaded with weights as it rests on my shoulder. I then walk out spreading my feet apart. I create a break in my hips, bend knees then squat. I push up to stand erect. Going down is easy coming back up with heavy weights on your shoulders is the challenge.
I am now four years into power lifting. I truly love the workouts. I have come a long way competing while learning quite a bit in the process. In a conversation with a power lifting friend, she let me know it was the year 2000 before women were finally invited to participate in power lifting. Not only that it was the 1950’s and early 1960’s that various odd lifting events gradually developed into the specific lifts. Those lifts being, bench press, squat then dead lift. In competition they were lifted in exactly that order.
Quite a few powerlifting federations have been formed over the years, each with their own rules and standards. The International Powerlifting Federation is the world’s largest most cohesive Powerlifting Federation. There are thousands of members and they have been recognized by the International Olympic Committee via their inclusion in the world games. This transpired in the year 2017.
What makes my group different is that we are considered Senior Powerlifters. That’s right, our age range start at the early 60s to 99 years of age. Trudy, our 90-year-old, has retired. Due to the 2019 Pandemic Edith, our 99-year-old, stayed home. The good news is she has come back but only to bench press. It’s been understood that she has a certain weight goal that she would like to reach by August. Her birthday is that month, she will be 100 years old. Imagine that.
Can powerlifting be healthy? That has been asked many times to me. My answer is, “If your goal is to build muscle, strength and improve your physical plus mental appearance, then yes.” Just know powerlifting can be a healthy way to do so.
Questions are also asked about our backs, including the spine. I have been told research proves the dead-lift can be very effective for strengthening our low back muscles. It can also decrease your back pain while improving our functions.
It’s essential to make sure you are in the proper mindset. Yes, you’re getting older, but everyone does. Please, don’t let that stop you from achieving a strong, muscular physique. You just might need to pay more attention to recovery and preventative measures.
I would like to say one more time, “Your stance and form are important, but more important is your coach.” Just listen to what he tells you no matter what. I can thank Victor many times because I listened. He made me strong. Will, my new coach has made me stronger. Power-lifting can’t be too bad if our 99-year-old Edith has come back. I have so much respect for her. It makes me wonder, “What will I be doing at 99?”