Finding the Power Within

Finding the Power Within

Carrie’s world record deadlift of 229 pounds in August 2016.

For a world-record-holding weightlifter, the number 280 could have many meanings. For Paradise Valley Estates resident Carrie Reese, the number is a painful reminder of a time the 80-year-old power lifter couldn’t lift 20 pounds.

Carrie grew up a multi-sport athlete. She even considered a career as a hockey player. “My father was worried that if I got hurt, I wouldn’t have a way to make a living,” she recalls. “So I went to nursing school instead.”

After a successful nursing career, Carrie later became a corporate attorney and discovered a love of marathon running that would eventually pose health challenges. “I ran so much I blew my knees out,” she says. Further saddled with a grueling work schedule, Carrie’s health suffered. Carrie ballooned to 280 pounds by the time she retired.

The excess weight stressed her body and led to bi-lateral knee replacement after she retired. It was during recovery from her second surgery that things went awry. “During rehab, I fell and injured my wrist. I couldn’t even feed myself so I was very depressed,” she recalls. “There was a woman in my rehab who looked my age, but was very fit. She told me where she worked out. When I recovered, I went to that gym.” One year later, Carrie entered her first competition.

Today Carrie is a svelte 159 pounds and member of the Napa Lifting Team, a group of seniors who compete together several times each year. The team is coached by Mike Dayton, who in addition to being a former roommate of Arnold Schwarzenegger, was Mr. America 1976 and holds nine Guinness World Records.

Carrie maintains a disciplined blend of fitness and food, four gyms and three coaches. “I have a food coach, upper body coach and a lifting coach,” she says. One thing she refuses to do? Work out on Thursdays. “That’s my rest day,” she laughs.

Hard work has made Carrie a legend on the circuit. Since 2012, she’s earned four state-level world records and captured five world records and Best Lifter honors at the west coast championships in 2016. She’s the only person in the world to hold four world records in four different weight classes, at once. She’s deadlifted 229 pounds, bench-pressed 95.7 pounds and push-pulled (a deadlift-bench press combination) 322.4 pounds. She’s achieved the fitness level of someone far younger than her actual age.

Carrie finds many joys in weightlifting, but few are as cherished as post-competition days when she can eat anything she wants and relax amid the rolling hills of Paradise Valley Estates. Carrie believes her strength was forged of challenges and that perceived disadvantages such as her age have fueled her champion mindset.

“It is important that seniors continue to set goals regardless of age, discomfort or disability,” she says. What’s Carrie working toward now? Induction into the World Association of Bench and Dead Lifters Hall of Fame before she turns 85.