Three-Quarters of a Century and Going Strong(er)
Health and WellnessPowerlifting

Three-Quarters of a Century and Going Strong(er)

Age is just a number when you commit to building yourself up.

In his 70s, Jeff Guller remains a familiar figure at powerlifting events.
In his 70s, Jeff Guller remains a familiar figure at powerlifting events.

Three-quarters of a century has snuck up on me, and I don’t know what to do. I can’t even say the number, much less write it.

“It’s only a number,” they say, but it’s a big number. While I am not as old as most people my age, I have knees, a shoulder and a hip that beg to differ, and a heart that is lucky to be beating.

My birthday was celebrated by a gathering of family and friends with great food, good bourbon and good cake. The scary part was that only one person there was older than I am, and I know only a few others who are older.

But I am the only one of my peers who is getting stronger.

I was going to list all the things that did not exist three-quarters of a century ago that we now take for granted. That list, however, would take the whole article. The most important of those items are the personal computer (including the smartphone), television and household air conditioning.

Here are what some things cost the year I was born: new house, $4,075; new car, $850; rent, $32 per month; gasoline, 12 cents a gallon. The average annual income was $1,777.

My training has been going so well, I don’t know how to act. I have reached personal record after personal record, exceeded my best in all three lifts.

I have no idea how long this can continue. I am my own experiment. Is there a point at which an individual cannot keep getting stronger? At what point does the body deteriorate so that it can no longer improve?

I don’t know. I hope I never do.

My training is relatively simple.

I use a different program for each lift. I have to track my progress so I can peak for meets.

I don’t always do all I plan to do, but I always do all I can.

I am a competitive person. If we are keeping score, I want to win. I’ve always been that way.

While not the most gifted athlete, I have been willing to do the work necessary to be the best I can be. I have tried to apply those principles to my powerlifting.

There is no time that we can’t give 110 percent to our training. Good day or bad day, trying for a personal record or doing repetition work sets, 110 percent is what we must do to get better.

This sense of competition has pushed me. My greatest competition is what I did previously.

The spirit of the sport and the good people therein also contribute to my enthusiasm. Being around wonderful young men and women gives me more energy than ever.

How long will I keep getting stronger? I don’t know. At what point does deterioration begin? I don’t know. Am I racing a clock, and is my time on the platform limited? I don’t know.

I am not concerned about the answers to those questions. The answers will come in time.

Until then, I can only go as hard as I can go for as long as I can. If I can do this at 90-plus, I shall.

In as much as I am my own experimental subject, I will keep you informed. In the meantime, I’ll keep lifting heavy stuff until they stop making things for me to pick up.

Jeff Guller is a personal trainer, fitness columnist and record-setting powerlifter in Gastonia, N.C. He’s introducing “The Mighty Atom” at 1:20 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 28, at the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival.

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