Seventy one, strong and thriving | Proof you're never too old to powerlift

Peeps Nicols isn't your typical woman in her 70s – she’s an aspiring strong woman.

About a year ago Peeps she joined her local Nuffield Health Fitness and Wellbeing Centre in Weston-super-Mare thinking it would be a great place for swimming and grabbing a latte at the café.

Little did she know that she would be training for local powerlifting competitions.

How did the interest in powerlifting start?

“It all started when I met TJ – a fantastic PT and all-round great human being, he’s always treated me like I’m worth bothering with and that means a lot, especially when you’re in your 70s. I’m not sure how we got onto powerlifting...” Peeps reflects.

“...It was when we were chatting about your love of watching World’s Strongest Man and we joked about Peeps becoming the world’s strongest woman,” TJ chips in.

Peeps says she fell down a rabbit hole of reading all about powerlifting online and then TJ encouraged her to give the training aspect of it a go.

“TJ really had his work cut out for him as there was so much I couldn’t do: my ankles were stiff, I couldn’t do a squat and with my MS diagnosis my balance isn’t always good. But TJ evolves my training program all the time to fit in with my needs,” Peeps says.

“I joined a local novice powerlifting competition and was hooked. It’s absolutely thrilling, and the power lifting community are so lovely and welcoming.

But it hasn’t been a quick goal to achieve. In fact when Peeps started training she wasn’t even able to lift the bar, which weighs in at 20kg.

TJ, Peeps’ PT describes the training needed to take her from struggling to lift the bar to deadlifting 55kgs, “We just take one step at a time, building up Peeps’ strength with a variety of weight-based exercises but with a close eye on not over exerting and aggravating Peeps’ MS.”

What has improved since starting your training journey?

“Absolutely everything has improved since starting my training. Before any of this I would have really struggled to even get myself up on to a chair to reach something high.

“Plus it’s been good for my mental health too, coming to a place where you are challenging yourself and feeling good after a workout. 

“All of the powerlifting training I’ve been doing is amazing and it really feels like I have a super power.”

“In fact the other day when I was feeling a bit stressed, I said for the first time ever in my life, ‘I really need to get into the gym and do something’,” recalls Peeps. “All of the powerlifting training I’ve been doing is amazing and it really feels like I have a super power.”

What would you say to encourage others to try something new?

“Just do it – gym life and powerlifting has been like learning a whole new language to me and I’ve loved it. It’s so important to do something for yourself,” Peeps says.

TJ encourages people to set small goals, “It doesn't have to be anything big, it could just be to learn how to actually use the gym kit properly and then build on that and keep going and updating that skillset.”

Peeps is a role model and inspiration for all of us, and it just shows that you can learn a new skill at any time.

Peeps’ next powerlifting competition is coming up and we wish her all the best with her training and aspiration of becoming the world’s strongest woman in her 70s.

Last updated Tuesday 15 August 2023

First published on Tuesday 15 August 2023