8 pieces of advice from 77 year old powerlifter Abbey Moon
If there’s one word that comes to mind when describing powerlifter Abbey Moon, it’s determined.
The Seattle-based weightlifting champion turned 77 in November and power lifts multiple times a week at her home gym, hosts Zoom classes with friends, and meets with several private clients to help them discover the benefits of exercise.
But fitness wasn’t always part of her life. A former ER social worker, Abbey says she didn’t get serious about fitness other than the occasional inline skating or biking until she was 60. And what led her to start exercising wasn’t a desire to get more toned, or lose weight. It was a quest to feel strong after becoming a survivor of domestic abuse, a traumatic experience that left her wanting change.
“I felt like the only person who could really take care of me was me, and I had to figure out some way to do it. I didn’t feel like a strong person, I felt like a capable person – I just didn’t feel very physically strong,” Abbey said. Despite having great friends and a great family, she still wanted to protect herself by becoming stronger.
She started by going to a gym and biking, but still felt like she had no idea what exercises to do or what equipment to use without some guided help. “I was a reluctant gym-goer.” Abbey says.
Eventually, she saw an ad for a Crossfit class and decided to try it because there were other women in the class. With the help of Crossfit she kept getting stronger, seeing results, and felt encouraged to continue. From there she tried personal training, and then began powerlifting shortly after that. And after her first powerlifting competition in 2015, she was hooked.
“I became braver and felt much stronger. All this fear I had been carrying around disappeared. I figure if I can deadlift 220 pounds – no one is going to mess with me.”
Abbey describes her first competition as a learning experience – discovering what to do and what not to do, but she’s never thought about quitting. The highlights of her weightlifting career to date include her first Nationals Competition in 2015 and traveling to Sweden for competition with the International Powerlifting Federation (IPF). And she’s planning on competing in the Virgin Islands in February 2022. Currently, Abbey lifts 3-4 times a week and does other training work other days in the gym, in addition to Zoom classes.
But Abbey says other people her age don’t need to be lifters, or compete in powerlifting competitions to experience the benefits of fitness. Simply showing up matters.
“Even if you don’t feel like going, you go. Even if you don’t feel like doing anything, you find something you can do. By showing up you get a routine, and that’s how it works for people,” she said.
On the days she doesn’t go to her lifting gym, Abbey does Zoom classes with friends at home. They use weights sometimes, but often just using body weight is enough. The group started the tradition over COVID and they've continued meeting since.
As far as her next moves? Abbey plans on lifting until age 85. And she wants to help people over 65 discover exercise and get moving like she did.
“We’ve bought into this myth that when you get old, you can’t do this, you can’t do that – but you can do strength training. As long as you have upper body strength, it’s really doable. I just want to get rid of this myth that we’re frail and old,” Abbey said.
Abbey’s advice when it comes to fitness
1. Just showing up matters.
“It’s so simple but so profound. But just show up. Even if you don’t feel like going, you go. Even if you don’t feel like doing anything, you find something you can do.”
2. Online classes are great.
“I think online classes are phenomenal. I do a Zoom class 5 days a week with three friends and we started this during COVID.”
3. Everyone goes through periods where you can’t workout as much or at all. But you can craft routines around what works for you.
“I’ve had a knee replacement, hip replacement, broken leg, I was in a car accident. For a while I didn’t go right back to the gym, but went back as soon as I possibly could. There were a few things I could do, upper body and sitting down, but I developed a routine around what I could do.”
4. Building a community is important.
“I think with fitness, having a community – even if it’s three people – it’s really helpful.”
5. Find accountability.
“There are days she [my workout partner] doesn’t want to go, but she knows I’m going – so we go. We compare workouts, she’s better at a lot of stuff than I am, so we help each other that way.”
6. Let’s get rid of the myth that we’re frail and old.
“I hate the word ‘frail.’ As long as you have upper body strength, it’s really doable.”
7. There’s no cookie cutter approach.
“What works for me, may not be for you, or vice versa. There’s many different approaches.”
8. Keep a notebook to track your progress.
“You’ll be amazed to discover that, gee – I couldn’t do this a month ago, but now I can do it.”