I started lifting heavy weights in summer 2015 at the tender age of 54. As I had a month of work I thought it would be nice to get really fit and in shape, see what I achieve with exercise and a good diet.
I had been a member of a lovely hotel health and fitness club for 20 years. However, none of the fitness routines i.e. treadmill, stepper, bike, aerobic classes had changed my body, perhaps just kept me in reasonable shape.
I asked one of the fitness staff in the gym to tell me what else I could do to “get rid of the wobbly bits”. I was lucky as the guy I asked was also a strength coach in another gym. He advised me that I should start lifting weights.
I told him that I did not want to get bulky, look like a bodybuilder, but he said that there is “not a chance” as I would not have enough testosterone in my body to build big muscles.
So I thought I give it a try. After a few weeks I saw results, my clothes felt more comfortable, I felt more energetic and lifting heavier and heavier weights made me feel very good. I slowly changed my nutrition, mainly more protein, less sugar, more vegetables. I learned about the importance of sleep.
Soon I noticed in the gym that I lifted heavier weights than the young guys working out beside me. I looked up the weights I lifted on the web and the world records in my weight/age category were not miles away, in fact, I had already beaten the standing world record in deadlift many times in the gym!
So, thinking that I may have a talent for weightlifting I went to get a few one-to-one lessons in powerlifting. Powerlifting is a form of competitive weightlifting in which contestants attempt three types of lift in a set sequence, squat, bench press and deadlift, which is called “Full Power”. Competitions are also held that include just one of these lifts which are called “Single lifts”, or a competition of two lifts.
In August 2015 I joined the Irish Drug Free Powerlifting Association/Federation and in September I took part in my first competition in Ballina, Co Mayo, a “push – pull” competition, meaning bench press and deadlift.
What a (painful) learning opportunity! Similar to boxing, powerlifters compete in weight category and I thought – and still think – the weigh in the early morning is the worst part of the competition. But it got worse in Ballina. I made so many mistakes, wrong shows, wrong belt, wrong technique, nerves….I was disqualified after not being able to get one successful bench press.
I wanted to drive home and cry! What had I been thinking! However after many encouraging words from another female powerlifter, I completed the deadlift part of the competition, even though none of the lifts would be counted. I achieved three successful lifts, got a lot of applause and again I got a lot of encouraging words. Even though I left Ballina empty – handed, I decided to try again in another competition.
By now I took part in three world championships, in Wales, Italy and in Belgium. I broke and set some World and European records. My next goal is to partake in the world championship in Boston in November 2017!