At 71, Winifred Pristell is a testament to healthy and fit living at any age. Only entering into competitions for a little over a year, Pristell, the World Association of Benchers and Dead Lifers (WABDL) champion, currently holds the World, National and State records for single lift bench press for her age group and weight class. This grandmother of 2 and great-grandmother of 3 was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and had a brief marriage which produced her two children. While athletic in her youth, Pristell became sedentary and by mid-life, she was out of shape and obese. With the encouragement of her daughter, she became interested in fitness and weight lifting at age 48 as a means to change her lifestyle, which was to get back in shape and begin a regular exercise regimen to stay fit and healthy. But Pristell did not become serious about weight lifting as a competitive sport until she was 60, when sh e left the local YMCA behind to begin more advanced training at her local Gold’s Gym. It was there that she met her mentor, Jim Schall, a former coach and teacher, who himself has held dead lift records for his age and weight class for over 10 years. Without him, Pristell states that she never would have succeeded this far, her first win becoming the State champion at the 10th Annual Alki Beach Bench Press and Deadlifting Championship, held in Seattle, Washington in August of this year. One month later, she broke the World’s record for her age and weight category. She prefers bench press over dead lifting because of the continuous advancement in weight categories one can accomplish. Is she through, now that she is currently the “Triple Crown” holder for bench pressing in her class? “No,” she replies, “you are never & through, because there is always another, heavier free weight waiting for you and you always strive to do the next step up and keep breaking records.” She doesn’t see herself stopping anytime soon or stagnating in her sport.
In her spare time, Pristell loves to cook and only eats out when coerced by family and friends, as she’d rather stay home and cook herself. She has arthritis in the soles of her feet, her back and legs, and before she made that drastic change to her current lifestyle, she was barely mobile. She advises any senior in a walker or a wheelchair that with the “proper exercise, nutrition and fitness regimen, anyone can get up out of that wheelchair or throw away that walker; if you want to accomplish that, you can!” She quips, “Look at me; I did it and so can you!” Her formula for staying fit is to exercise on a regular basis and to eat healthy – no junk food – at least three times a day. She herself eats several small healthy meals throughout the day in between her daily training schedule. Her goals are simple and straightforward: To keep on doing what she’s been doing for the last 8 years and to stay consistent. Her advice to others, including seniors her age, to be as healthy, happy and self-sufficient as her? “Find something that you love and keep on doing it, be consistent and never give up,” as Pristell also says, “I’m never going to stop!” Amen to that and congratulation, Winifred; you are a shining example to the rest of us!
- Henry Ford