You will often find Janice Lorraine in the heavy weights section of a gym.
But back in the late ‘90s, when the now 75-year-old took up bodybuilding, it was predominantly male dominated.
“The males treated me with slight regard and as somewhat of a nuisance. In fact they‘d often stand over me,” Ms Lorraine said.
“Thankfully an older male trainer (marginally younger than me) offered to train me.”
After about 15 months of intense training he told her of a bodybuilding organisation which didn‘t allow drug enhancement.
Janice in 2013 when competing in one of her favourite competitions in Greece. Photo / Supplied facebook twitter email linkedin google-plus whatsapp pinterest reddit
“I trained hard and went with him to compete in the International Natural Bodybuilding Association in Sydney and that‘s was how it all started,” she told news.au
She began doing aerobics, then weight resistant training in 1998, before taking up bodybuilding at age 55.
Ms Lorraine said that there was a woman slightly older than her who was a judge and who had competed, but had given up bodybuilding in her early to mid-fifties.
“I‘ve been the eldest ever since. It‘s now common to have over 50s and 60s category,” Ms Lorraine said.
As far as she‘s aware she‘s the only one gracing the stage at 70 plus in natural, bodybuilding competitions — and better yet, she now trains herself.
Born and raised in Granville, Sydney, the grandmother of three has 23 titles to her name, with her most recent competition being the World Amateur Natural Titles in Phuket last year.
“I won my category. My aim is not to rival those younger than me. My aim is to show what‘s possible and to motivate and encourage women of any age, to live the life they want to live and not be bound by traditional stereotypes and roles and the expectations of others,” Ms Lorraine said.
She is looking at competing at the end of 2019, just after she turns 77.
Janice Lorraine is 72 years old in the photo on the left and competing in the 2015 Dubai-INBA World Championships. On the right she‘s 10 years younger at the Australian Championships. Photos / Supplied facebook twitter email linkedin google-plus whatsapp pinterest reddit
What was the moment that set you down the bodybuilding path?
When I was coming out of a gym class one day, I saw a very frail old lady standing in the gym car park. She couldn‘t walk unaided and she was standing, teetering on two heavily veined legs, which were as thin as toothpicks. The last I saw of this old lady she was leaning on her support and shuffling across the car park.
It was then, at that very moment, I decided I was not going to be like her and that I was going to march into the male dominated weights room and start Weight Resistance Training (WRT).
I had heard that WRT was good for bone density and that it had been shown to be effective in preventing osteoporosis and so, in January 1998 I began WRT and decided that I would become a natural bodybuilder. I worked very hard and started competing after 15 months of training.
How did people react when you first started to compete?
When I decided to compete internationally in 1999 at age 56, male natural bodybuilders all said, “I wouldn‘t go over there. It‘d be too hard to compete in the USA.”
I went anyway although I was scared stiff. As it turned out I won two gold medals and the American audiences went wild to see a small woman over 50 competing. They simply had no idea that a female over 50 could be strong and in-shape and put on a bikini and compete on stage in public. It was on the flight home from the USA that it occurred to me to work to update the unflattering traditional stereotypical image of the older woman.
What is your general diet? And does it change in the lead up to competitions?
My diet is the same whether or not I‘m in competition mode. I eat what I call natural nude food which means food without condiments or sauces. My diet is mainly unprocessed food, mainly salads and a small piece of microwaved sweet potato. The only meat I eat is grilled chicken, grilled fish and eye fillet steak. I allow myself one biscuit a day and one square of 90 per cent sugar free chocolate a day. I don‘t have any takeaway meals. I also enjoy a glass of wine with my evening meal.
Janice‘s goal is to show what‘s possible and motivate and encourage women of any age. Photo / Supplied facebook twitter email linkedin google-plus whatsapp pinterest reddit
What does a typical training week look like for you?
Monday, Wednesday, Fridays I am at the gym training my major muscle groups. On Tuesday, Thursday and Saturdays I do an 8km walk, x30 full push-ups, x30 tricep push-ups, x30 blackleg raises (x10 each leg and x10 together) and two minutes of ab work.
Q: Do the competitions you compete in have women your age?
A: These days I‘m always the eldest. Simply being in shape to compete makes me feel triumphant. Too many women feel it‘s all too late to do the things they‘d like to do. This mainly results from pressure to conform to the accepted stereotype of an older woman. As a psychologist my aim is to motivate women of all ages to feel free to live the life they want to live and not let age and the expectations of others stop them.
Q: Any signs of slowing down?
A: I‘ll always be training for as long as I live because I know what would happen to my body if I stopped. Many people even younger than me are getting around in walking frames and many lack both energy and strength and can no longer engage fully in life.
I‘ll keep up the WRT for as long as I‘m able and I intend to compete in 2019. Beyond that I‘ll have to wait and see.
* To learn more about Janice Lorraine