Vermont weight lifters setting national records

April 2, 2017 GMT


Tucked away inside his gym, Coach Ben Warstler preps his weightlifting team for their upcoming competition. And their lifts are intimidating even to weight room regulars.

“Most of our team is in the power lifting sport. That’s a squat, a dead lift and a bench press. We have a couple athletes, including myself, which do Olympic Lifts, which is the clean and jerk,” says Warstler.

It’s not your average power lifting team.

“A total of fifteen people on the team. We have twelve women and at least half of them are over the age of forty,” says Warstler.

The sign that hangs in the gym reads “Smile today, you got better”, but the team at Fortitude Fitness is smiling because they are setting national records.

“I think a lot of them were shocked that they were setting national records. They were setting out to the best they could,” says Warstler.

Maureen Aldrich and Melissa Jones set records in the dead lift, while Karen Stimpson set a national record in the bench press. The records were in their age group and weight class. This was the first meet for all of these women, except for Aldrich, who hasn’t competed in more than thirty years.

“I feel great. I feel great,” Aldrich says after her lift.

And while they push their way to the record books, they say they’re still enjoying their time in the gym.

“I think the people and the challenge keep me going,” says Karen Stimpson.

“I am enjoying that very much coming down, being able to mingle,” says Aldrich.

And Warstler, a proud coach, is impressed with where the team is going and how they have been performing.

“I definitely think they all have definitely surpassed their expectations,” says Warstler.

And Maureen has advice for anyone who doesn’t want to be a power lifter -- but wouldn’t mind having a bit more muscle.

“Don’t be afraid. If you feel you want to go down, even if you’re by yourself. Take that step -- it could be the best thing you do for yourself,” says Aldrich.

The team has an event Sunday in Burlington. And they plan to break more records!