OWOWs at Optimus

OWOWs at Optimus (Older Women on Weights)

Older Women on Weights (OWOW) at Optimus is a group of women who are members of Optimus and a few non-members who engage in heavy resistance training.  Many of the OWOW women also compete in the sports of powerlifting and weightlifting. Several of the women have set National, American, and World records in their respective weight and age categories. 

The OWOW Story

The OWOW at Optimus program was founded in February of 2012 by Louise Miller and Linda LaFontaine.  Shelly Frazier and Linda’s husband, Tom LaFontaine were competing in an ADFPF sanctioned meet at the University of Missouri and Linda and Louise were in the audience.  There was only one woman older than 60 years of age who was competing and Linda and Louise said to each other, “we could do this”.  They proceeded to recruit Tom as the “head coach” and began to recruit members.  That first 6 months culminated in 12 women competing in the Push/Pull (bench press and deadlift or bench press only)  meet held each year as part of the Missouri State ShowME Games (an Olympic like festival of sports).  These first 12 OWOW women competitors proceeded to set several ShowMe state games powerlifting records and most of them placed 1st in their age and weight category.

In powerlifting competition, athletes compete on three traditional lifts, the Parallel Squat, Bench Press, and Deadlift. A few of the women also compete in weightlifting (an Olympic Sport) that consists of two overhead lifts, the Snatch and Clean and Jerk, that demand a high degree of skill, power, balance, coordination, mobility, and strength.  In both sports, lifters are given three attempts on each lift and the highest weight successfully lifted is recorded.  In full competition meets, the winner is the lifter who lifts the highest total of the three lifts contested in powerlifting or the two lifts contested in weightlifting.

The OWOW women who compete in powerlifting mostly compete in American Drug Free Powerlifting Federation (ADFPF) sanctioned meets. Those competing in weightlifting participate in meets sanctioned by the United States Weighlifting Association (USAW). Presently there are approximately 40 women between the ages of 18 and 77 years who are members of the OWOW at Optimus team. All of them engage in the heavier weight training and several are regularly competitive in their respective age and bodyweight categories.

For example, recently, 13 OWOW women competed in the ADFPF Full Powerlifting National Championships held at Elite Athletic Performance facility in Columbia, Missouri on June 24, 2017.  Several American, National, and world records were set.  Presently approximately ten (10) OWOW women are qualified to compete in the 2017 World Drug Free Powerlifting Federation (WDFPF, www.wdfpf.uk.net) Championships to be held on November 4, 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts.  In a meet held in October of 2015 called the “Beauties and the Beasts”, 24 women competed and set 62 American records. On November 7th, 2015 seven OWOW women competed in the ADFPF Fall Open Singles and full Powerlifting meet. Again, several PRs and American records were set by the team at this meet as well. Since the start of the OWOW at Optimus team we have had several World, American and National record holders.  Also we have had several world champions (Shelly Frazier, Kim Morgan-Jones, Linda LaFontaine, Louise Miller Pat Okker, Rachel Brown, Mary Doctorman, Kerin Anderson, and Kate Walker).  In June of 2015, Pat Okker and Shelly Frazier competed in the World Drug Free Powerlifting Federation Single Event (Squat, Bench Press, and Deadlift) championships in Telford, England. Pat competed in the 55-59 year old and 55.5 Kgs (122.1 lbs) category and Shelly competed in the 40-44 year old and 50.5 Kgs (111.1 lbs) category. Pat won first in the squat with a lift of 67.5 Kgs (147.5 lbs), 1st in the bench press, and 1st in the Deadlift. Shelly won 1st in both the deadlift and the bench press. Shelly was named the World’s best bench presser amongst the women of all ages and weight categories. Pat set two world records (bench press and deadlift) as did Shelly (bench press and deadlift).  In 2016, seven women coached by Tom LaFontaine, PhD, competed in the WDFPF World Singles Championships in Wrexham, Wales.  The OWOW team won 17 world championships at this meet and set 13 world records.  These meets represent just a few of the landmark successes the OWOW at Optimus team has had over the past 5.5 years.

However, the most important reason these women participate in the OWOW program is to derive the many benefits of a lifting heavier weights.  These benefits include increased strength, functional capacity, muscle endurance, lower risk for diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease, improved cognitive function, improved self-image and mood, and perhaps most importantly improved bone mineral density.  Four in ten women over 60 have low bone mineral density (or BMD and medically called osteopenia or osteoporosis).  A low BMD increases the risk for fractures.  Tom Lafontaine, PhD, Clinical Exercise Physiologist (former international level weightlifter an powerlifter and former squat world record holder) and Shelly Frazier, DO, Pathologist (and world record holder powerlifter), have analyzed data on twelve (12) post-menopausal OWOW women whose average age is 64 and have found significant (27%) improvements in BMD.  They are in the process of writing a report for a professional journal in the field of sports medicine and exercise physiology.

Over the past 5.5 years, there are many stories of meet successes by the OWOW team that could be presented but space does not allow us to do that. For more information on the exploits of the OWOW at Optimus weightlifting team, plan a visit/tour of Optimus.

Become an OWOW!

Contact us at 777-7474 or info@optimushealth.com or directly to Tom LaFontaine, PhD, ACSM RCEP at tlafantaine64@gmail.com to learn more.


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