Thu. Jul 18th, 2024
Jean Jacobs

Jean Jacob feels like a teen again.

The 57-year-old has never been in better shape, she said.

“I used to feel strong as a teenager,” Jacobs said. “Now I feel like a teenager, only stronger.”

She recently set a new personal deadlift record: 285 pounds. On this day, she crouched down and lifted 225 pounds.
“Pfft, that looked easy,” friend and fellow lifter Donna Schaffer said.

“That’s nothing,” Jacobs boasted, wiping chalk off her hands. “That’s practice.”

Jean Jacobs 01

Breaking stereotypes

Jacobs and Schaffer may not fit the bodybuilder stereotype.

In fact, at 51, Schaffer is actually somebody’s grandmother.

“I don’t mind being 51,” she said. “I just don’t want to look 51.”

Which is why 3 1/2 years ago, she signed up for training at Jo’s Fitness Garage on Madison Avenue. Her daughter Samantha was about to get married and Shaffer had bought a sleeveless dress.

She wanted to look good in it, as well as build up her core body strength.

“I wanted to be able to sit on the floor and get up to play if I had grandkids,” she said.

She’s achieved that goal … and much more, she said. Not only has she lost 74 pounds, she’s deadlifted as much as 295 pounds. That’s more than twice her 120-pound body weight.

Jacobs can’t lift quite as much, but at 57 has arms and legs of steel. She’s lost and kept off 90 pounds and has increased the amount she can deadlift by 70 pounds in just six months — no mean feat for the 155-pound woman.

“I like to work hard,” Jacobs said.

She’s worked out in the past but has only been training with Jo’s Fitness Garage owner Jo Radlinger since January 2015.

“It’s much more intense than what I was doing before,” she said of the weight training.

Also known throughout Mankato and at the Mankato Area Farmers’ Market as the Pie Peddler, Jacobs said with her new muscle, she can roll out pie crust like nobody’s business.

Her younger brother, Paul, thinks the whole thing is pretty cool and woke up at 5 a.m. to drive to her last competition.

“But my other two brothers just shake their heads,” she said.

Donna Schaffer

Weightlifting superstars

Schaffer and Jacobs recently competed in a national Independent Bodybuilding and Powerlifting Association championship in Sleepy Eye.

They said they were the only women in their age class and still out-lifted women much younger then them.

“We’re competing against women that are 25 years old,” Jacobs said.

“They could be our children,” Schaffer said laughing.

Radlinger said despite both women’s incredible strength and accomplishments, powerlifting isn’t about being able to lift the most weight.

“While I’m all about lifting heavy weight here, we do it in a safe and effective way,” the personal trainer said. “… But quantity of life is just one side of the spectrum. Quality of life is the other.”

Schaffer says Radlinger doesn’t push her clients to do more than they’re comfortable with.

“I want to lift heavy,” she said.

She and Jacobs have mostly received encouragement from their friends and family, though there are always a few that look at powerlifting as unnecessary or dangerous.
“Naysayers are the people that don’t have the determination to go to that next level,” Radlinger said.

She said Jacobs and Schaffer are superstars to her, mostly because they’ve made a commitment to their bodies and their health. It was never a matter if they were capable of deadlifting, but if they could push themselves to be.

“Anybody has the capability if they have the willpower,” Radlinger said. “Everyone has the discipline. It’s just a matter of how deep you’re willing to dig and find it.”

Courtesy of: Mankato Free Press