A grandmother who became an international powerlifting champion in her 60s says she looks and feels better than she did 30 years ago.
Mary Duffy, 71, from Trumbull, Connecticut started working out at the age of 59 after piling on weight following the death of her mother in 2007, losing more than 50lbs within one year.
She quickly became hooked on weight lifting and now spends
holds world records for deadlifting 250lbs – more than a baby elephant – as well as benching 125lbs and squatting 175lbs.
‘I started seriously going to the gym ten years ago when I realised I’d put on a lot of weight – I remember it hit me when I looked in the mirror and thought “That’s not me”, said Mary.
‘I quickly lost weight, and realised the more I trained, the more I enjoyed it – and that’s the way it’s been since then.
‘I’m 71, but I’m the fittest I’ve ever been – I look and feel better now than I did when I was 40.
‘I do get people telling me I’m too old for this, but my motto is “You can’t turn back the clock, but you can wind it back up”.
‘Sometimes I ask myself ‘why am I doing this?’ but the negative comments are outweighed by the people who tell me I inspire them – and that’s what keeps me going.
‘I’m not the average 70-year-old – and I have no intention of giving up now!’
Retired Mary dabbled at the gym in younger years, but didn’t begin taking it seriously until she hit 59, when her mother died.
Mary ‘sat around feeling sad’ for two years following her mother’s death, and ballooned to 176lbs, which she said felt uncomfortable for her small frame.
‘I looked in the mirror and saw how big I’d gotten – that was a lightbulb moment for me’, said Mary.
‘I remember thinking to myself ‘I refuse to let that be me’ and signed up to join the gym.’
Within a year she’d lost nearly 50lbs and her personal trainer, Bobby Calabrese, suggested she take up weight lifting.
Thanks to two weight-lifting sessions a week, plus cardio and general strength training every day, she got the courage to enter her first powerlifting competition in 2014, aged 64.
Mary fell in love with weight lifting and soon began entering international competitions run by the International Powerlifting Association twice a year.
She has racked up more than 30 state and world records with the International Powerlifting Association, in her age and weight category.
‘The more I trained, the more I enjoyed it’, said Mary, ‘It can be hard to build muscle when you’re older, but I loved seeing my muscles become more defined as I got stronger.
‘Even now, years down the line, I still see myself making improvements – and it keeps me going.’
Super-fit Mary trains for more than twenty hours per week at the gym, doing three fitness boot camps and two personal training sessions.
She also does daily cardio sessions on the rowing machine and cross trainer, as well as additional weight lifting sessions with friends.
Despite training up to six hours a day, she said people often judge her for her age.
Mary, who shares her progress on her fitness Instagram, said: ‘I get a lot of people trying to tell me that I shouldn’t be weightlifting at my age – but I just laugh and tell them to check out my records.
‘There are times when I wonder why I push myself as hard as I do, for sure, but it’s people’s positive comments that keep me going.
‘I don’t want to look like the average 70-year-old grandmother, because I definitely don’t feel like one.
‘I don’t think I’ll ever quit powerlifting – not unless I absolutely have to.
‘Even if I do stop competing, I’ll still work out and keep in shape.’