By Robert Annis
August 29, 2007
Zionsville resident Mary Miller is one of the strongest 65-year-old women in the world.
The petite grandmother of five set a world record in the bench press for her age and weight class, lifting 115.5 pounds in a World Association of Bench Pressers and Deadlifters competition in Lansing, Mich., last month. The previous record was 95 pounds.
She's now gearing up for the world championships in Anaheim, Calif., in November, where she hopes to hoist up 120 pounds.
Although Miller has been healthy and active, she hasn't always been as strong. Around age 50, she realized she was beginning to lose muscle mass, so she and her husband Curt began seeing personal trainer Pete Rogers.
"When we started out, I just wanted to stay fit," she said. "Pete made everything happen. He made me believe in the strength I have."
She credits Rogers and good genes for her strength. She points to her father, who was a 5-foot-4-inch, 135-pound boxer. He died at age 95.
"He was a feisty, tough little dude," she said. "The genes were there. We've just taken those genes up another step."
She and Rogers estimated she rates in the top 5 percent of women around her age.
Miller said it was Rogers that suggested she begin competing. In 1993, she set a state bench press record, lifting 105 pounds. When Rogers left for California, Miller stopped competing but didn't stop working out. She and Curt built a home gym in their basement and continued their workouts three times a week.
When Rogers came back to the area 10 years later, he began training the Millers again at their home.
Rogers has the couple doing supersets -- five sets of push, core, pull and leg exercises with little or no rest in between. He estimates the couple does 50 sets of exercise in 60 minutes.
Rogers changes their routines every few weeks to keep things fresh.
"They don't look like powerful people, but for their age group, they're incredible," Rogers said. "They're lifting weights like 30-year-olds."
Miller credits the workouts for increasing her stamina and her mental processes.
"I want total body fitness," she said. "I like the idea that I can have the total package and can do the powerlifting."
The Millers lead an active life, filled with hiking, cycling and paddling. In 2006, Curt was the blue tee champion during Crooked Stick's club championship.
They've also gone on a Canadian dog-sledding adventure where the couple and their guide each piloted their own dog sled.
"We enjoy doing things we wouldn't be able to do if we didn't take care of ourselves," Mary said.
She hopes her story will encourage more people to live a healthier lifestyle.
"I want to inspire other women," she said. "I don't do this to set world records, I do it because it makes me feel better."