‘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

VIDEO: Masset Dance Troupe presents beachfront ‘promenade performance’

Troupe performed ‘A Mid Summer Day’s Dream’ for family, friends on July 4 and 5

UPDATE: Masset anti-racism rally postponed

The Yahk’ii event, which means ‘truth’ in Haida, will be rescheduled at a later date

Haida matriarchs occupy ancient villages as fishing lodges reopen to visitors

‘Daughters of the rivers’ say occupation follows two fishing lodges reopening without Haida consent

Registration open for first-annual ‘NextIslandpreneur’ student business competition

Competition offers mentors, iPads, seed money, cash prizes to young entrepreneurs on Haida Gwaii

Haida Nation reminds ‘select few’ fishing lodges that Haida Gwaii is closed to non-essential travel

‘Upholding Haida law amid COVID-19’ release comes one day before Queen Charlotte Lodge plans to reopen

B.C. sees 25 new COVID-19 cases, community exposure tracked

One death, outbreaks remain in two long-term care facilities

BREAKING: Amber Alert for two Quebec girls cancelled after bodies found

Romy Carpentier, 6, Norah Carpentier, 11, and their father, Martin Carpentier, missing since Wednesday

Bringing support to Indigenous students and communities, while fulfilling a dream

Mitacs is a nonprofit organization that operates research and training programs

B.C. man prepares to be first to receive double-hand transplant in Canada

After the surgery, transplant patients face a long recovery

Grocers appear before MPs to explain decision to cut pandemic pay

Executives from three of Canada’s largest grocery chains have defended their decision to end temporary wage increases

Northern B.C. First Nations call for reversal of grizzly bear hunting ban

Growing grizzly populations have led to fewer ungulates and increased fear of attacks says Chad Day

RCMP ‘disappointed’ by talk that race a factor in quiet Rideau Hall arrest

Corey Hurren, who is from Manitoba, is facing 22 charges

NHL’s Canadian hubs offer little economic benefit, but morale boost is valuable: experts

Games are slated to start Aug. 1 with six Canadian teams qualifying for the 24-team resumption of play

‘Made in the Cowichan Valley’ coming to a wine bottle near you

Cowichan Valley has the honour of being the first sub-GI outside of the Okanagan

Most Read