Inquirer Lifestyle » Is powerlifting for you?

[align=center][size=x-large]Is powerlifting for you?[/size][/align]

August 7, 2008
M ANILA, Philippines. As soon as her five-gallon water supply arrives at her doorstep, Ruby Gan doesn't sit and wait for her sons to pick it up. She casually swoops the heavy tub as if she were picking up the morning paper, props it up in the kitchen, and goes off to do another task. Now that is a chore most women half her age cannot even do.

Since she began powerlifting two years ago, the 47-year-old Gan said life has never been better. Aside from the obvious physical strength she gained, the independent single mom has become even more self-reliant.

"I don't rely on baggers anymore to carry my groceries for me. I do things around the house myself," Gan said.

Weight-lifting for years toned her muscles all right; it managed to keep everything firm and tight-but her strength-training routine today defined those cuts and sculpted her body. Not that she cares so much about her physical appearance.

"People equate beauty with being thin; I equate beauty with being healthy. Being thin doesn't necessarily make one healthy," she said.

But the biggest plus to powerlifting, she said, is gaining strength. The petite Gan can lift weights enough to make a grown man blush. For a woman her age, she said, the strength gained gave her the freedom to do physical tasks she normally needed help on, like moving around furniture when she's cleaning up her home.

It's being able to do the little things in life without so much effort that makes exercising all worth it, she said. And if she could beat a person half her age climbing up a flight of stairs, then that's already a bonus.

So much has also been written about the benefits of weight-lifting against osteoporosis that Gan said she has probably gained more bone mass now as a powerlifter. She has never had any major illness, her blood pressure, cholesterol and sugar has always been within the normal range.

Many women have been afraid of powerlifting lest they bulk up. Well, Gan said, that is partly true, although the bulk-up stage happens only when one is preparing for a competition. Besides, she added, those muscles shrink back to its 'normal' size in about two weeks after a competition. Generally, a woman's body is simply not genetically engineered to hold on to too much muscle mass.

Gan, who confessed she must have her dessert every single day, is surprisingly not obsessed about her weight. The last time she weighed herself was last March, during a competition. Lifting heavy weights will tilt up the scales, she said, as muscles are heavier than fat, but it trims down the waistline and burns fat more effectively.

"If my clothes get a little tight, say, around the waistline, then I push myself a little bit more in the gym," she said.
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