Photo: Michele Mateus
Beast Mode Grandma
Don’t be fooled by Sue Spencer. At first glance, she’s an unassuming 62-year-old grandmother. But look again and you’ll see the muscles rippling in her arms. As she says, “I’m five-foot-two and I’ve got grey hair and I’m sort of chubby and they don’t think I can lift anything.”
But lift she can. And no one is more surprised by this than she is.
Four years ago, Spencer decided to lose some weight – 75, maybe 100 pounds – in the 18 months before she turned 60. “I really made that mind shift that this was what I was going to do,” she says.
So she joined a gym near her Delta, B.C., home, thinking she might try some cardio. “I didn’t really have a plan,” she says. “I’d never really properly worked out.” Because her knees were bothering her, she began working out with a personal trainer, Paul Marlowe, who was a specialist in gait and strength training.
He suggested lifting weights and that’s when, Spencer says, “I discovered that I was pretty strong.”
She developed a passion for power lifting and was soon working out five days a week. “The results were happening so quickly that it just spurred me on. I got to the point where it’s just part of my day. It’s just what I do,” she says. “And I discovered that I’m incredibly competitive, which I never realized before."
In March 2016, she competed for the first time in the World Masters Games in Edmonton. She broke the provincial record for her age and weight class, earning herself the nickname “Beast Mode Grandma.”
She competed again in September and broke her own record with an 88-pound snatch and 106-pound clean and jerk. “I know I am not too far off the current World Masters Games records for my age and weight class,” she says.
She lost the weight she’d set out to lose, but more importantly, she found herself.
“It’s like I’m a completely different person,” she says. “The change in my whole mental attitude of how I look at life, and my focus, is just huge.”
And Spencer has some advice for anyone dealing with their own struggle.
“Give yourself the chance to try something you’ve never tried before,” she says. “If you give yourself the chance to try, you never know where it’s going to lead. It’s just saying yes to opportunity.”