‘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

COVID-19: Daily update on the pandemic in Surrey, White Rock and beyond

April 7: Brewery starts making hand sanitizer, City of White Rock and Surrey lays off employees

Surrey bus driver tests positive for COVID-19

Routes he drove have not been disclosed

Surrey mayor denies property tax deferral motion

Councillor’s notice of motion for Surrey property taxes to be deferred until Dec. 2 out of order

Team refunds OK’d for cancelled Surrey Mayor’s Cup soccer tournament

The decision follows the amalgamation of the Central City Breakers club with Surrey Football Club

COVID-19: 4 new deaths, 25 new cases but only in Vancouver Coastal, Fraser Health

A total of 1,291 people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus

COVID-19: Don’t get away for Easter weekend, Dr. Bonnie Henry warns

John Horgan, Adrian Dix call 130 faith leaders as holidays approach

COVID-19: Trudeau says 30K ventilators on the way; 3.6M Canadians claim benefits

Canada has seen more than 17,000 cases and at least 345 deaths due to COVID-19

RCMP call on kids to name latest foal recruits

The baby horses names are to start with the letter ‘S’

As Canadians return home amid pandemic, border crossings dip to just 5% of usual traffic

Non-commercial land crossing dipped by 95%, air travel dropped by 96 per cent, according to the CBSA

Logan Boulet Effect: Green Shirt Day calls on Canadians to become organ donors

While social distancing, the day also honours the 16 lives lost in the 2018 Humboldt Broncos Crash

COMMENTARY: Knowing where COVID-19 cases are does not protect you

Dr. Bonnie Henry explains why B.C. withholds community names

B.C. wide burning restrictions come into effect April 16

‘Larger open burns pose an unnecessary risk and could detract from wildfire detection’

B.C. secures motel, hotel rooms for COVID-19 shelter space

Community centres, rooms reserved for pandemic self-isolation

Most Read

l -->