Powerlifting inspires 71-year-old Regina poet

For Regina's Joy Brown, aging gracefully has a whole new meaning.

The 71-year-old retired principal took up powerlifting, her first sport, as a senior. It's intense, sweaty and challenges her mentally and physically

Brown's desire to get stronger dates back to when her grandson was getting ready to move away for college. She said she couldn't change the jugs on her water cooler or shovel the snow on her driveway by herself. She was considering selling her home

Her grandson encouraged her to exercise so that she'd be able to do the things she was struggling with.  

"That was the first time that I ever thought that I could have a choice about aging, that I could get stronger," Brown said. "Getting older is a path but there are choices.

"One of the choices is to get stronger."

From 3-pound weights to competitions

Her grandson helped her train, starting with three-pound weights and working up to 15.

Brown said she soon realized she would either have to buy heavier weights or get a gym membership.

Her grandson convinced her to try powerlifting at Mettle Performance Training Center.

"I walked in the door and this place was mine. I knew it instantly," Brown said.

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It didn't take long for Brown to take an interest in competitive lifting. She told her coach she wanted to compete and, within six months, she did.

"Right now I'm the strongest I've ever been in my life," Brown said.

Powerlifting inspires poetry

Brown gives a lot of credit to the welcoming team of staff and gym goers at Mettle.

In fact, they inspired her to get back into poetry, a longtime love she had given up when her husband died.  

She has poems on entering the gym, doing deadlifts and individual athletes she trains with.

"They're so beautiful as a group of human beings that it just comes out of me," she said.

Brown's poems were entered to win the John V. Hicks Award, which is given out by the Saskatchewan Writers Guild. She came in third. 

That manuscript has since been turned into a book of poems, title Heavy, which will be released on October 20.

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Brown said her work has touched many of the people who were featured. One strongwoman Brown wrote about used the poem as motivation before every meet.

But it's not just fellow athletes Brown is inspiring.

Some of her senior friends have decided to work on their fitness as well. Brown said one has taken to lifting soup cans, while another can now do ten reps with three-pound dumbbells.

Brown said she is taking aging head on and encourages others to do the same.

"You've got a chance to last longer, to go farther, to hang on and it's gonna take you but at least you'll go down with dignity," she said.

- With files from CBC's Dan Plaster