Heavy lifting to inspire Sisters


Last updated 8/29/2023 at 10:08am

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Coach Ryan Hudson with Debi Braun and Don Frosland at the Summer Strength Wars meet in Bend, where both lifters set national records.

Two Sisters athletes set national records in their class in powerlifting competition last month.

Don Frosland, 68, 242 pounds, bench-pressed 264 pounds and deadlifted 405 for records. Debi Braun, competing in the 70-74 category in the 148-pound weight class, benched 110 pounds and deadlifted 171 pounds for records.

Both are well enough pleased with their accomplishment at the U.S. Powerlifting Association-sanctioned Summer Strength Wars meet at the Strength Warehouse in Bend last July. Yet neither wanted to promote their own prowess.

Rather, Frosland and Braun each extolls the value of strength/resistance training to our health and well-being - especially as we age.

Braun started weight training early, when she was a young track athlete. She became a physical education teacher, and has always appreciated the benefits of lifting. She's been training with Coach Ryan Hudson at Level 5 in Sisters for four years, and has raised her level considerably.

"I've always lifted weights, but never to this magnitude and not in competition, for sure," she said.

She enjoys the camaraderie and the positive, encouraging community of the gym, and has enjoyed being led into competition.

"You kind of get hooked," she said. "I apparently am the bench-press queen. I never thought that my upper body would be stronger than my lower body, but it is. Not that it's my preference, but it's what I excel at."

Competing suits her personality.

"My personality, I'm competitive with myself," she said. "I enjoy the challenge and doing this. It makes you feel good, it makes you feel strong."

Both Braun and Frosland emphasize that you don't need to be competitive to reap the benefits from resistance training.

"It's very important and vital to do strength training, resistance training," Braun said. "I'm fighting aging. It's mind, body, and spirit. The Greeks had it right. Our society has gotten away from that."

Frosland lifted competitively through his 30s and 40s, then set it aside.

"Everything gets soft," he said. "I just needed to get back into doing some kind of physical activity again. The older we get, the more important that is."

Aging takes a toll on muscle mass and bone density - which can lead to diminished quality of life and health problems, including broken bones. Resistance training - lifting weights - has been conclusively demonstrated to stave off the effects of aging.

"At any age, we can improve that," Frosland said.

The lifter eased back into training with a Bowflex machine, just working out, not "training" per se. Then he joined Level 5 and was drawn back into lifting competitively.

He built his strength gradually and carefully, and now he feels like he's poised to do more. Though he was happy with his record, he believes he's got bigger numbers in him. And he feels great, physically and psychologically.

"Now I feel fresh, and I'm ready for the next 17 years," he said, marking the gap in his training between ages 49 and 66.

"You may not care to be competitive, and that's fine," Frosland said.

Sisters offers a range of opportunities to get strong and healthy.

"There's good places here to work out, good trainers," he said. "People can get involved at any level and benefit from resistance training."

Braun concurs. She urges everyone of whatever age to engage in physical activity.

"It's critical to move," she said. "Whatever your passion is, find your passion and move," she said.

Author Bio

Jim Cornelius, Editor in Chief

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Jim Cornelius is editor in chief of The Nugget and author of “Warriors of the Wildlands: True Tales of the Frontier Partisans.” A history buff, he explores frontier history across three centuries and several continents on his podcast, The Frontier Partisans. For more information visit www.frontierpartisans.com.


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