‘It’s never too late to get strong’: B.C. grandma deadlifts twice her weight for the gold

‘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

 

‘It’s never too late to get strong’: B.C. grandma deadlifts twice her weight for the gold

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)

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

Deb White, carnival chairwoman, rode in on style Saturday during the parade. (Caitlin Clow - Vernon Morning Star)
Pandemic postpones parade, heart of Vernon Winter Carnival

Interior Health says no to one of B.C.’s only winter parades

An elementary school student misplaced their glucose monitoring device for diabetes and his family and teachers are hoping someone maybe picked it up. (Dexcom)
Vernon student missing medical device

Receiver used to monitor diabetes believed left in snowbank at school

The revitalization of Polson Park is one of the many projects that come to council’s mind that could benefit from the Fortis BC Legacy Fund. (Debbie Gibson photo)
Vernon council considers use of $13M ‘legacy’

Fortis BC Legacy Fund to be discussed further in special meeting of council

Lindsay Palmateer, a Salmon Arm mother of six, succumbed to her injuries after a serious crash Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, south of Enderby. (Contributed)
‘She was everyone’s caretaker’: Salmon Arm mother of six remembered

GoFundMe campaign exceeds goal already for family involved in deadly crash near Enderby

Canadian author Paul Young, who wrote the critically acclaimed novel, the Shack, will join Vernon-based foundation, the Emily Dahl Foundation, for a Fireside Chat event in June 2021. (YouTube)
Bestselling author to be keynote presenter at Vernon event

The Shack author Paul Young to join with Emily Dahl Foundation for summer Fireside Chat

Brett Forsythe battles it out in a game of singles pickleball on ice at Okanagan Training Rink Thursday, Jan. 7 in support of the Vernon Food Bank. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Pickleball play hits the ice in Okanagan

Rivals battle it out in support of the food bank

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon shared a handwritten note his son received on Jan. 13, 2021. (Ravi Kahlon/Twitter)
Proud dad moment: B.C. minister’s son, 10, receives handwritten note for act of kindness

North Delta MLA took to Twitter to share a letter his son received from a new kid at school

Phase 4 of the Kicking Horse Canyon Project is on track, despite COVID-19 and the recent provincial election. (Government of BC photo)
Kicking Horse Canyon Phase 4 closures announced

The first major closures are expected to occur starting on April 12 until May 14

Black Press media file
Port McNeill driver tells police he thought the pandemic meant no breathalyzers

Suspect facing criminal charges after breathalyzer readings in excess of 3.5 times the legal limit

Megan Freedman’s music video for Perfect was shot at the Lindon House on Ethel Street. (Perfect - Megan Freedman)
Kelowna musician’s anti-bullying anthem receives international award

The music video was shot at Kelowna’s Lindon House

Forestry companies in B.C. agree to abide by the cedar protocols based on traditional laws of the First Nation members of the Nanwakolas Council. (Photo courtesy, Nanwakolas Council)
Landmark deal sees B.C. forest firms treat big cedars like a First Nation would

Western Forest Products, Interfor among companies to adapt declaration drafted by Nanwakolas Council

A northern resident killer whale shows injuries sustained by a collision with a vessel in B.C. waters. (Photo supplied by Ocean Wise Conservation Association)
Coast Guard ramps up protections for B.C. whales

First-ever Marine Mammal Desk will enhance cetacean reporting and enforcement

Two toucans sit on tree at an unidentified zoo. (Pixabay.com)
BC SPCA calls for ban on exotic animal trade after 50 parrots, toucans pass through YVR

One toucan was found dead and several others were without food

Kelowna International Airport. —Image: Capital News file
Kelowna International Airport saw 64% decrease in passenger numbers in 2020

The airport said these numbers haven’t been seen since 1997

Most Read