96-year-old woman who lifts a 53-pound barbell with the kindest smile ever gives people hope

‘She’s shown up for every session, worked hard and just last week she pulled 53 pounds from the floor,’ the gym said.

There are many people who show that you can do anything you set your mind to. Even though her doctors had given up hope that she could walk again, a 96-year-old woman still lifts weights like a true champion. A video of the senior smiling while lifting a barbell has made the internet happy and inspired thousands of people to keep going. Starting Strength, a gym in Cincinnati, Ohio, put up the video and told the amazing story of a happy weightlifter named Merce.

In an Instagram post about Merce’s fitness journey, the gym said that she had trouble walking and needed a walker after an accident a few years ago that hurt her vertebrae. The old woman and her son Mark were unhappy with what doctors and specialists told them to do. Mark took his mother to the gym in February 2022.

“Mark had a suspicion that getting stronger could help his mom, so he brought her out to an open house and the rest is history. All of the barbell movements can be modified to meet a trainee’s capabilities. And everyone… yes, EVERYONE, can get stronger. Merce started with a very high rack pull (just a few inches in range of motion) at 11 pounds. She’s shown up for every session, worked hard and just last week she pulled 53 pounds from the floor… smiling the whole time in traditional Merce fashion,” the post caption said.

People today like to live healthy lives by working out often and eating a balanced diet. As we get older, it becomes more and more important to form habits that keep us strong and active. Joan MacDonald is one person who decided to change her life after a visit to the doctor showed that her health was getting worse quickly. At age 70, she took many medicines for acid reflux, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Doctors told her to take more medicine until she made big changes to how she lived. The 76-year-old told Shape. “I knew I had to do something different,” the 76-year-old told Shape. “I had watched my mom go through the same thing, taking medication after medication, and I didn’t want that life for myself.”

Soon, MacDonald started doing yoga, going for walks as a form of exercise, and even lifting weights. At first, she focused on building up her overall strength and stamina. At first, she just worked out as much as she could while staying safe. She was 70 years old and not very fit. She worked her way up to going to the gym for two hours every day, five days a week.  “I’m very slow, so it takes me almost double the time to finish a regular workout,” explained MacDonald. She also benefited from having a regimen. MacDonald said, “I just get my workout done first thing in the morning.”

MacDonald used to want to lose weight as quickly as possible, but now she’s more interested in meeting specific strength goals at the gym and pushing herself to feel strong and powerful. “I’ve been focusing on performing pull-ups without help. I’ve been working on doing unassisted pull-ups. I was actually able to do a few just the other day, but I’d like to be able to do it like all the youngins. That’s my goal,” she said.

MacDonald also said that achieving her goals doesn’t take much more than commitment and persistence, and she still works to help women of all ages be their best selves and in the best shape possible. “We are strong [and] capable of change, but we’re often viewed as fragile. I hope that more women my age embrace being pushed and appreciate that someone is interested in seeing you try harder. Even though you can’t turn back the clock, you can wind it up again,” she said.