Forty-something Langley gal master lifter

Bonney Rempel is happy she listened to the advice of a Tupperware salesperson, who a couple of years ago was impressed by her feat of strength.

“She was doing a party for me, and I was helping her lift her stuff out, and she says, ‘That’s okay, I’ll carry it, you might hurt yourself,’” Rempel related. “I said, ‘Are you kidding?’”

Once the salesperson saw the amount of weight Rempel could lift and carry, she suggested Rempel take a stab at competing in a regional powerlifting meet in July 2013.

“She said I could meet her there, it would be fun,” Rempel said.

So Rempel decided to enter BC Powerlifting.

Good decision – Rempel won a pair of gold medals at the Canadian Powerlifting Union (CPU) national championships, held April 7-10 in St. John’s, Nfld.

“I would say, in the Masters category at the Canadian nationals, I lifted more weight than anyone,” a modest Rempel stressed.

She dominated the 84-plus kilogram Masters (ages 40-49) Classic (unequipped) division.

Her bench press lift of 102.5 kg (225.5 lbs) set a new Canadian Master 1 record and provincial women’s record.

She also set a Canadian Master 1 record and provincial women’s mark with a 170 kg (374 lbs) squat lift.

To go along with a 150 kg (330 lbs) dead lift, Rempel’s total weight lifted, at 422 kg (929.5 lbs), set new standards both provincially and in Canadian Master 1.

“I was always strong but it wasn’t something women did,” the 47-year-old marketing professional said. “I am not as worried today about people think, but certainly wish I would have started this at a younger age.”

Since she started training, Rempel has made great strides under the guidance of trainer Mitch Walls, who has competed in both national powerlifting and bodybuilding.

Before devoting herself to powerlifting, Rempel had worked out for about five years at Walls’ facility, Pro Trainers Personal Training Gym, tucked away in a section of the Langley Bypass.

“I was maybe a bit stronger than most of the women but nothing really noticeable,” Rempel said.

“His gym is very unique. He holds your chart when you come in and tells you what machines you should be doing, at what weight, for how long, and how many reps,” Rempel said, regarding Walls. “You really never have to think again, which works for a lot of people with busy schedules. A lot less chance for injury, as well.”

Initially, Rempel told Walls that she wanted to know if it was even possible to do those kind of numbers.  

“I told him that ‘I didn’t need to be first but I didn’t want to come in last,’” she remembered. “He just smiled and said ‘not a problem – if that is what you want to do.’”  

What Rempel didn’t realize at the time was that Walls once coached two world champion powerlifters in Jesse Jackson and Anthony Clark.

She trains four days a week, two-and-a-half hours a day at Pro Trainers.

Rempel admits she is surprised by the level of success she’s had, and attributes much of it to Walls.

“I think he has a really unique program, here,” she said.

Walls said powerlifting success relies on a lot of technique and mental preparation.

“People don’t realize that lifting heavy weights is a lot more mental than it is physical,” he said. “When a person walks up to a bar and see four or five plates on, he or she may get overwhelmed, but you should never let the weight intimidate you. I’ve trained her [Rempel] not to.”

He continued, “She works very hard, and she’s trying to understand what lifting is all about. I’ve been competing and lifting for over 32 years, and I’ve trained a lot of world class athletes. I’m trying to get that across to her, the mentality to lift.”

As much as training and technique come into play, genes have a lot to do with Rempel’s progress as a powerlifter.

“Most women have very poor upper body strength, whereas I don’t,” Rempel said. “So that’s my edge.”

Rempel said she has the body type of her late dad, Herman, a broad shouldered man who was, his daughter said, “a little strong guy.”

She grew up in a the town of Okanagan Falls where her dad was a millwright and, she said, “as strong as an ox with really good upper body strength.”  

“But the real strength in my family lies within the women,” she added. “Not physically but mentally and spiritually. A very determined group that has overcome many of life’s obstacles and I am proud to be part of.”

She recently applied to compete as for the Canadian national team and is hoping to compete in both the North American and Commonwealth Championships being held this year in Richmond.

Away from the gym, Rempel rides a Harley and lives in Brookswood with her husband Brad and their dog.

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