The weightlifting Granny

By Jessica Walter

Special to the Financial Independence Hub

A few years ago, Shirley Webb of East Alton, Illinois, was unable to get off the floor without the aid of a piece of furniture. Neither could she climb the stairs without holding onto the railing. Her only source of exercise came from mowing the lawn.

Now, the 78-year-old grandmother has learnt how to lift a 225-pound barbell. She no longer needs furniture or railings to help her. She’s a record breaker, setting records in Illinois for deadlifting at 237 pounds and in Missouri for 215 pounds, both in age and weight groups.

Along with her granddaughter, Webb joined Club Fitness in Wood River and, within six months of work with her personal trainer, John Wright, she was lifting in the 200-pound range.

So, what advice can seniors take from the weightlifting grandmother?

1.) Find a workout partner

Fitness experts believe that working out with someone will help you more than if you were to work out alone. Not only is it easier to set goals with someone and then motivate each other to achieve them, it’s more fun. Exercise shouldn’t be a chore!

2.) Choose a senior-friendly gym

You’re more likely to go to a gym if you like the premises and the staff – the more welcome you feel, the more fun it will be to go. In an interview with ESPN, Webb said the staff at Club Fitness explained all the equipment to her and her granddaughter before they signed up so she knew exactly what was what. Don’t forget to visit a few local gyms before you sign a contract!

3.)  Work with a trainer who is attentive to your needs

It’s great to work with a trainer, but you need someone who knows what your limits are and who pays attention to the little things. Trainers are there to make sure that you’re not taking on too much too quickly and that you’re not going to injure yourself. But it’s not just weight lifting that requires a trainer: even activities such as yoga and Pilates are best with someone that is looking after you.

4.)  Start slowly. Pace yourself

Never jump straight into the deep end of the metaphorical pool! When you’re first getting into exercising you need to begin slowly and methodically introduce more and more into your regime so that you’re at no risk of an injury. Webb started with light weights to raise her fitness level before she was even allowed to think about the heavier ones.

5.) Set realistic fitness goals

Set small goals for yourself and work your way up. Most of all, however, SHOW UP! Even on days you don’t feel like working out, make the effort. In her ESPN interview, Webb said that at the end of an hour’s workout session, she felt so much better than when she had walked in.

Jess Walter  is a freelance writer and mother. She loves the freedom that comes with freelance life and the additional time it means she gets to spend with her family and pets. This article originally appeared at SeniorAdvisor.Com and is republished here with permission. 


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