When you think of a badass weightlifter, what image typically comes to mind?
Is it something like this?
Photo via iStock.
Or perhaps this?
In either case, it’s probably not something like this…
Photo via Kent Webb, Shirley’s son, used with his permission.
Many of us have a few preconceived notions about elderly women: They’re sweet and innocent. They need our help crossing the street. They’re weak.
But while 78 -year-old Shirley Webb surely fits the bill when it comes to sweetness, she couldn’t be farther from the “little old lady” stereotype in the strength department.
Last week, a video of her deadlifting 225 pounds not once…
Beast mode? Activated. GIFs via SoundFX/ YouTube.
I like to call this one the “early bird special.”
…but THREE times with the ease of an angry Lou Ferrigno stimulated its way around the Internet.
“I’m ready for my close-up, Mr. Schwarzenegger! ”
Webb’s Herculean feat rapidly ran viral, with the online community praising her stereotype-shattering strength, resiliency, and fabulous choice of workout garb.
Webb has become something of a powerlifting powerhouse for the past year, setting deadlifting records in both her native Illinois a staggering 237 pounds and in neighboring Missouri.
Less than two years ago, however, Webb was another person entirely one who very much fit in line with the common stereotype of what it means to be “elderly.”
“At the time, I couldn’t stroll up the stairs unless I held on to the handrail, and if I got on the floor, I couldn’t get up without a chair, ” she told “Today.”
It was at that point that Webb joined Club Fitness in Wood River, Illinois, along with her granddaughter .
Under the tutelage of trainer John Wright, Webb’s physical conditioning rapidly began to improve. Within six months, she was lifting over 200 pounds. Within a year, she was setting records in age and weight divisions left and right. By this time next year, one can only assumes she will be bench pressing the actual bleachers her cheering segment sits on. With all of them on it.
Photo via Kent Webb, used with permission.
Last June, Webb vied in the Missouri State Powerlifting and Midwest Open in St. Louis in the 75 and older division.
And, of course, she won her division with a 215 -pound deadlift that would give many a younger female or human a hernia, two divided disks, and an unrelated coffee addiction. Think I’m being hyperbolic? Go strap 20 bags of potatoes to a drapery rod and let me know how lifting it goes.
“She’s gotten to the point where everybody greets her and is just absolutely impressed, ” Wright told ESPN. “She inspires everybody that goes to the gym and it’s fun to see that.”
Since her video has run viral, Webb has also become something of a local hero to the other senior citizens in her community.
Photo via Kent Webb, used in conjunction with permission.
“I’ve watched such a remarkable difference in myself, ” told Webb to “Today.” “I’m glad that people are getting inspired by me doing this. I had one lady come in the gym and say, ‘I saw your video and I decided to come down and join this club.’ That makes me feel good.”
It just goes to show that with enough motivating and perseverance you really can do almost anything at any age.
“I have no intention of stopping right now, ” Webb told ESPN. “When I go to the gym and work out, when I leave, I feel so much better than I did when I went in, and I merely feel so good. I feel tremendous.”
Read more: www.upworthy.com