Feats of strength: 73-year-old April Hanson competes in strength competition

Age is nothing but a state of mind, the saying goes.
If that’s the case, Princeton’s April Hanson is a very young 73 years old.
Hanson is a self-proclaimed gym-rat with the physical build to prove it.
An inspiration to many at Princeton Health & Fitness, she has been training under the watchful eye of personal trainer Jay Grove for a strongman-type event Sept. 9. A fundraiser for the Princeton Tiger Wrestling Booster Club, Hanson will be competing with others from age 16-73 beginning at 11 a.m. at the Princeton fitness center.
Competitors will be facing off in a competition against the fitness center’s personal trainers. To date, April Hanson is the oldest competitor to enter the event, said Sharma Wolff, general manager of Princeton Health & Fitness.
Hanson’s journey to the strongman competition began about five years ago while she battled some health issues.
“I came to Jay because of my osteoporosis. I understood that weight training could help with that,” Hanson said.
Because of the osteoporosis, Hanson was not growing bone. Working out proved helpful in combating the issue, she said.
Today, Hanson’s bone density is greater than it was 10 years ago, she said.
“Why?” Hanson said. Because weight training grows bone.
Using no medications and only weight training in her arsenal to fight her health issue, she was able to reverse the osteoporosis
As the two trained together, Hanson got stronger. As Hanson got stronger, her goals and interests changed.
April Hanson says she puts in a lot of work to maintain her physical health.
“But I don’t spend a lot of time here,” she said of Princeton Health & Fitness.
She has two sessions a week with her trainer Jay Grove.
“I’m here about 1 1/2 hours a week,” Hanson said. “It’s a pretty good investment.”
Hanson says there are many benefits to working out that carry on far beyond the gym.
“I have lots of energy,” she said.
“And it’s hard to be depressed when you’re working out. It’s good for everything I do in the home,” Hanson said.
She has also seen changes in her blood sugar level and blood pressure, Grove said.
“In April’s case, it’s improved her quality of life,” Grove said of the weight training.
He says he sees that in most of the senior citizens who work out at the club.
When it comes to weight lifting, Grove says he has Hanson stick to basic lifts.
“I call them ‘bang-for-your-buck” lifts,” he said. He also has Hanson doing an Olypic-style lift, he said.
In an impressive show of strength, Hanson is able to lift her own body weight in squats,” Grove said.
In addition to lifting and squats, their training also consists of dead lifts, rows, pull-ups and presses, he said.
“I’d like to get mixed martial arts in there,” Grove laughed as Hanson gave him a stern look of disapproval.
The two are working hard towards the Sept. 9 “Beat the Trainer” Show of Strength competition.
The competition isn’t something Hanson wants to do, she said. Her participation in the event is more about proving a point.
“I’m doing it because I’m old and want to show that I can do those things,” Hanson said.
“I want to show others that they can do it, too,” she said.
She also said she’s doing it for her trainer, Jay Grove, who has encouraged and inspired her to compete in the strongman event.
Come Sept. 9, Hanson won’t be going up against her trainer Jay Grove in the competition.
She’ll be competing against personal trainer Holly Pelzer of St. Francis Health & Wellness in events like the load/tire flip medley, dumbbell press, axel dead lift and farmers carry.
“In my professional opinion, she has a chance to beat the trainer,” Grove said.

April Hanson, 73, is pictured at Princeton Health & Fitness, where she trains.


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