How powerlifting changed one woman’s life

After dealing with a personal loss, Linda Rousseau turned to powerlifting and gained a new focus in life

How powerlifting changed one woman's life

Source: Best Health magazine, May 2014

In 2006, my son, Jason, passed away. He was only 34 years old. I didn’t know how to carry on after losing my most precious gift. As a result, I spent about five years in a deep depression.

I felt lost, but was able to find solace in working out at the gym near my home in Hannon, a suburb of Hamilton, Ont. My gym buddy, Carl, encouraged me to lift heavier weights, which seemed to help me carry my mental burden.

In 2012, I watched a female powerlifter at my gym and was very impressed. I wanted to give the sport a try. At first I doubted that I could do it, thinking I was too fat, too old, too depressed. All the same, I decided to start training with powerlifting coach Susan Abbott in nearby Hagersville, Ont.

Right away, I felt so much positive energy. My first competition was just six months after my first training session, and I placed third! Last September, I competed in the World Masters Powerlifting Championships in Orlando, Florida, and am proud to report that I won four medals: three bronze and one silver. I have also broken two Commonwealth Records in the Master 3 category, which means an age group of 60 to 69 years old in my weight category. (I’m 60 years old.)

I injured my back at those Worlds, forcing me to step back, recover and rehabilitate. Powerlifting is like life: It’s a progression of stages. You don’t always move forward, but if you keep going, eventually you will succeed.

I have been able to progress quickly due to my determination and dedication to the sport. I try to inspire people to realize that no matter what age or stage in life, they can make changes that have positive outcomes. This is something I try to pass on to others: In my role as a program coordinator at Dawn Patrol Child and Youth Services, I work with girls age 12 to 18 who are in trouble with the law, and I advise them that it is never too late to do something different.

My husband, Gary, is my biggest fan. He is very supportive and during this process has himself lost 40 pounds by changing his eating habits and exercising consistently. (As for myself, I have lost 24 pounds, and have gone from a size 14 to a size 8.) I’m also motivated by my three granddaughters, Sarah Jane, Hannah and Emily, who cheer for me and wear ‘Team Linda’ shirts to my competitions. That makes me feel so special. As a school assignment, Sarah Jane, 9, had to write a story about the strongest person she knows, and she wrote about me! I know Jason would be proud, too, and at times I feel he is with me when I lift weights.

I now train with Susan twice a week, in addition to a regular workout schedule. I can squat 271 pounds, bench 193 pounds and deadlift 262 pounds. My goals in the future are to promote the sport I love and to break a world record for benching in the Master 3 category. It may take time, but I will persevere!

Pictured: Rousseau with grand-daughters Hannah and Sarah Jane.

This article originally appeared in the May 2014 issue of Best Health. Subscribe today to get the full Best Health experience’and never miss an issue!