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61-year-old powerlifter breaking records and stereotypes

Woman holds a world record for deadlifting 413 pounds
450 deadlift attempt.jpg
Posted at 6:00 AM, Dec 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-15 06:00:45-05

LOWELL, Mich. — Health and fitness can mean many different things depending on who you are. But we all know it's important to keep moving, no matter what. Today we meet a Lowell woman who took her fitness journey to a whole new level. Now she's shattering records and stereotypes along the way.

Terri VandeVegte is a world record holder for deadlifting 413 pounds at age 61. She says she is her own biggest competitor; she just wants to be better than she was yesterday, last week or last month. She says it’s an empowering feeling.

She got into powerlifting ten years ago when she wasn’t feeling her best. She says she had gained a lot of weight and wasn’t in a good place, feeling much older than her years. But a trainer at her gym helped her find her calling, it’s a place where she developed a love of lifting weights. It was her competitive spirit that drove her into meets.

Terri says competition is what it’s all about. She travels to 3 or 4 meets a year and it’s the friendships that keep her coming back. She says, “everybody is so supportive and welcoming … every time I go to a meet, I’ve made several new friends by the time I leave.

In addition to her world record, Terri currently holds 21 national records, but her real goal is to break down stereotypes. She says, “there seems to be this prevalent idea that once you hit 35 or 40, you're out to pasture. You're not an athlete anymore... I started this at 52 and discovered a hidden passion I never knew I had, and you never know you might find something like that.”

Right now, Terri weight trains twice a week and sees a chiropractor to keep her tuned up - plus, she makes sure to work on mobility and full body work, stretching and foam rolling. All to help keep her ready for competition and for life. "I feel a lot better going into my 60s knowing I’m not sedentary and frail embracing old age or whatever it's just much more empowering entry into my 60s and you know beyond feeling much more physically capable and not walking around worrying that I’m going to fall and break a hip. Athletes come in all shapes, ages and sizes you know I want to be an example of that and show people how it can be done.”

Terri says the demographics have changed so much at the meets since she started competition - once there were just a handful of women participants - today a third or even half are women.