‘It’s never too late to get strong’: B.C. grandma deadlifts twice her weight for the gold

Sharlene Brunjes, 67, is encouraging others over 40 to do the same for their bone health

Sharlene Brunjes is not your usual senior. Just this month, at 67, she stood atop a podium, beaming, for having taken gold in the Canadian national powerlifting championships.

The South Aldergrove resident lifted double her body weight – 270 pounds – off of the ground into a standing deadlift to take her first national title.

“It’s never too late to get strong,” Brunjes encouraged.

“Anybody can do it, I was not always like this,” she said.

Three years ago, the grandmother picked up her first barbell after changing gyms. And eight years ago, Brunjes was told by a doctor she had osteopenia.

“It was the realization that I was following in my mother’s painful footsteps,” that led to action, Brunjes said.

If not, she was likely to incur osteoporosis – a bone disease where brittle bones put people at risk for significant injury upon falls and other movements.

Brunjes started slowly to rectify her weakening bones.

She used resistance training, first picking up a 5-pound dumbbell weight and performing a few curls.

Now she’s encouraging others over 40 years old to do the same.

READ MORE: Aldergrove super fan dubbed ‘hockey grandma’ after years of never missing a game

“Just start any resistance training,” she suggests. “Even if it’s a 5-pound dumbbell. It’ll start building up your muscles.”

Two years after she curled her first weight from elbow-level up to her chest, Brunjes’ following bone density test showed a nine per cent increase.

“My doctor was flabbergasted,” she said, noting over the next few years Brunjes got herself out of the osteoporosis “danger zone.”

The grandma has since amped up her weight training in the past four years.

She’s now lifting dumbbells more than twice her weight in three tested qualifiers: a deadlift, squat lift, and bench press.

At nationals – from March 2 to 7 in Winnipeg, Brunjes competed against other women in their 60’s who weigh 63-kg.

The grandma shattered three provincial records with a 209-pound squat and 270-pound standing deadlift.

Her competition lifts equalled 568 pounds, which is much closer to breaking a national record, she said giddily.

Brunjes trained intensively for four months before nationals with Mitch Walls of Pro-Trainers Gym in Langley – and a regime that included clean eating and hitting the gym five times every week.

[story continues below video]

Her fight for fitness, with the help of resistance training, has made a major difference in her everyday life.

“I was out with my granddaughter last winter and fell [on her backside] ice skating, but I didn’t break anything,” she said.

Brunjes said she is proud to have lifted beside women of all sizes, including those well over 200 pounds and young powerlifters weighing “no more than 100 pounds soaking wet.”

“That’s the beauty of powerlifting – you can be any shape, any size, and any age,” Brunjes said.

“It’s such a supportive environment.”

Her next goal is to make the Canadian national team to compete in the world powerlifting championships. One person her age and weight class is selected each year for the challenge.

She’ll try out again next spring.

In the meantime you will find Brunjes working out daily at PowerHouse Gym in Aldergrove.

“I’m not like your normal grandma I guess,” she smiled.

Fitness

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Aldergrove’s 67-year-old Sharlene Brunjes, a grandmother, recently took gold at the Canadian national powerlifting championships after an overall weight of 568 pounds lifted. (Mava Brydges/Special to the Aldergrove Star)

Just Posted

Comox Valley bylaw officers to keep eye on distancing practices at hot spots

They will be patrolling regional parks, trails to educate and response to any complaints

BC Hydro water supply forecast showing 78 per cent of normal for Comox Valley

This is the fourth year where the February to March period has had well below normal precipitation.

Comox Valley RCMP see increase in non-violent family disputes during pandemic

“It’s important to remember that help and support are still available for those who need it.”

Despite social distancing, Comox Valley Hospice Society ensures services for those in need

Services have been modified, but staff and volunteers are still actively providing compassion.

VIDEO: B.C. singer creates frontline workers tribute song

Cambree Lovesy’s song saluting those battling COVID-19 draws interest online

Comox Valley grocers going extra mile during coronavirus

We have had numerous requests to post a fluid article directing consumers… Continue reading

COVID-19 death toll reaches 50 in B.C., while daily case count steadies

B.C. records 34 new cases in the province, bringing total active confirmed cases to 462

Researchers to study whether plasma of recovered patients can treat COVID-19

Plasma is the liquid portion of the blood that contains the antibodies that protect against illness

Cowichan Valley man dies in single-vehicle collision

First responders called to Miller Road shortly after midnight on Thursday

B.C., Alberta health ministers urge public to stay home Easter weekend

Regional politicians, online petition calling for closure of provincial border to non-essential traffic

Most Read