When she was 55, Joyce Lindemulder started to notice a slow deterioration in her fitness. When ascending a flight of stairs, she would pause to catch her breath. Entering a car was also becoming a challenge. She would step her right leg into the car, and then try to swing in her left leg. But it wasn’t easy. She had to lift her leg into the car, which caused a bit of pain.
Lindemulder felt weak. Even so, it took another two years before she decided to make a change in her life by joining a gym – StrongHearts Fitness in Courtenay.
“During my first assessment, I learned that I was really unfit,” said Lindemulder, now 61.
But she also learned that lifting heavy things is one of the best exercises for people, including older women.
After conducting some research, she decided to pursue CrossFit training with head coach Chris Berglund. In time, the lifting parts of the workouts became her favourites.
During her journey, Lindemulder learned about powerlifting — which consists of back squat, bench press and deadlift — and that it was possible for someone her age to compete in powerlifting events. Under the guidance of Berglund, she trained for her first event last May — the Garage Gym Competition — a worldwide online powerlifting meet.
She has since competed in three more events. Lindemulder lifted a total of 222.5kg last December at the BCPA Fall Classic in Abbotsford. In May of this year, she lifted 230kg at the Vancouver Island Powerlifting Championships in Victoria. In June, she outdid herself by lifting 232.5 kg (511.5 pounds) at provincials in Langley.
“She finished first in all events,” said Berglund, noting Lindemulder is setting B.C. records for powerlifting in her age and weight class. “There are no records set, so she is setting the standard for her class.”
Lindemulder — a mother of two grown children who is an artist, and who taught at Emily Carr University and North Island College — feels stronger today than at any other point in her life. Friday morning, she set a personal best in the bench press at 110 pounds.
“Yes, I am getting older, but I am also getting stronger,” she said. “I belong to a generation of women who were taught that building muscle was ugly, and that belief results in women in wheelchairs. There are some amazingly strong women in their 50s, 60s, 70s and beyond competing in powerlifting, but the podium is not always full…There are few reasons why any menopausal woman who wants to take up strength sports shouldn’t. Resistance is never futile.”
In September, she competes at the Canada Powerlifting Union Western Championships in Calgary. She will then prepare for the CPU National Championships in Richmond in February.