A 77-year-old former nun has set a record for powerlifting — now she wants to beat it

Marion Keane has set a new goal for herself: the 77-year-old will aim to lift 220 pounds at a competition later this year.
Marion Keane has set a new goal for herself: the 77-year-old will aim to lift 220 pounds at a competition later this year. Facebook

They don’t kid around when they talk about the power of God. A 77-year-old former nun in Australia set a powerlifting record in 2013 — 90 pounds on the bench press, 110 on the squat and almost 200 on the deadlift — and now she’s hoping to beat her own record.

READ MORE: 8 reasons why weight training is incredible for your health

Marion Keane of Queensland says she joined a gym in 1995 for the first time as a way to cope with her husband’s illness. (She left the sisterhood at 36 and married her husband a year later.)

“As time went on it got really stressful, so I was advised by a counsellor to join a group,” she told Daily Mail Australia. “I joined a gym and have been going ever since.”

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She was working with a personal trainer who wanted to motivate her to stick with the program, so he suggested she try her hand at powerlifting. Once he saw it was a natural fit for Keane, he suggested she enter a competition. That’s when she really started to make her mark.

“It’s a real adrenaline rush,” she says. “With powerlifting, everybody is rooting for you.”

Although Keane notes that no woman over 70 had ever competed, thus making record-setting an easy enough task, she has made herself the one to beat. She entered another competition this year and beat her record by one pound in each area, and now her goal is to do 110 pounds on the bench, 132 for the squat and 220 for the deadlift. Her next competition is in October.

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“Seeing my husband in a nursing home for six years [battling Parkinson’s Disease] and seeing the deterioration in all the other residents, that’s one of my biggest motivations to keep fit and healthy, so I can look after myself and not depend on other people,” she said.

This is precisely one of the guiding principles for staying fit in your later years, says Kathleen Trotter, a Toronto-based fitness expert and author of Finding Your Fit.

“It feels good to be strong and it’s very empowering,” she says to Global News. “Weight training is beneficial on so many levels, from improving your posture to combatting osteoporosis and keeping functionally fit.”

Although powerlifting may not be in the cards for every septuagenarian, Trotter says the key to weight training is to set appropriate goals while keeping in mind your genetic abilities and injury history. Ultimately, you want to increase your capacity.

READ MORE: Weight training in your twilight years can extend your life

“Injuries occur when the capacity you have is less than the capacity you need,” she says. “And that capacity has to be able to sustain the activities you want to be able to do, whether that’s playing on the ground with your grandkids and being able to get back up, playing the sports you love or even just being able to lift a chair at the cottage and move it.”

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It all comes down to maintaining health and well-being, as well as a sense of independence.

“It makes me feel stronger — and that’s one of my goals, to get fitter and stronger. As I age I want to keep my independence,” Keane says.

That, and she gets a kick out of impressing the youngsters at the gym.

“All the young ones come up to me and [say]: ‘You know, I hope I can do what you do when I’m in my 70s because…you’re my inspiration,'” she says. “So that kind of motivates me.”

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