Grandmothers are forces to be reckoned with. Many provide wonderful blessings to their families — namely things like unconditional love, wisdom, and unending home-cooked meals. But that’s far from where their roles ends — certain groovy grandmas have let their age serve as inspiration to maximize their sunset years. They’ve have been known to dance their way through parades, tear up the basketball court, and even beat a few of the Pittsburgh Steelers at pickleball. Nora Langdon is representing in another impressive arena: At 80 years old, she’s a power weightlifter with over 20 national and world records.
Langdon got into the hobby around 15 years ago, when, at 65, she realized she wanted to improve her health and mobility. “I was in bad shape,” she told CBS News. “I weighed too much and I couldn’t go downstairs without getting tired.” To get into shape, she sought out the help of personal trainer Art Little at a gym in Royal Oak, Michigan, where she lives.
At first, she was a bit nervous to fit in among the fitness buffs. “It was intimidating,” she told Fox 2 Detroit last year, “but I said, ‘I’m not going to look at everybody; I’m just going to look at my trainer and keep going.’” Her trepidation didn’t last long. When she observed Little prepping for a powerlifting meet, she asked him a question he said he’ll never forget: “Do you got any old broads doing that?”
Little was unsure about someone her age attempting to powerlift, but Langdon insisted, and soon she was pumping iron with the best of them. After training for two years, the retired realtor and weightlifting grandmother of one entered the American Powerlifting Federation (APF).
Her very first competition, she broke all the national records.
“I was shocked,” Langdon told CBS about that first showing. “It got me very, very excited.”
These days, Langdon can squat over 400 pounds, deadlift 381, and bench press 203. At the time of writing, she was No. 1 in the 70-80-year-old bracket (though she admits there aren’t that many women in her age group to beat), and focused on her goal of lifting 1,000 pounds over all three events at the APF World Competition in November.
“She upped the game not only for people her age, but for everybody,” Little said. “Young people — they get involved because of her.”
“I just want to inspire other women to take care of themselves,” Langdon said in a Refinery 29 documentary. She added, “I want other young women to grow up and lift as much as I’m doing or more.”