Older Women on Weights
COLUMBIA - O Wow! It stands for Older Women on Weights. O Wow has a member as young as 35 and as old as 72, but about half of the 15 women are older than 55.
The group was started when Linda LaFontaine and her friend went to her husband Tom's powerlifting meet in February.
"And we noticed there were not that many women powerlifting so we were like where are all the women?" Linda LaFontaine said.
"And one of my Olympic style lifters said to them you can do this, you can beat these women," Tom LaFontaine said.
From there Linda and Tom talked to some of the other women who worked out with Tom at Optimus: The Center for Health. And they came together to form the group.
Some of the team members had lifted weights before, others had not.
"I had never even lifted a weight, touched a weight, until mid February," Sharon Millikan said.
The group has surprised friends and family with its strength.
"Some of the women have said you know I told my son that i was going to do this and they just laughed, oh yeah really right?
"I am so not athletic and don't care for exercise so this has been, people who've known me for many many years can't even believe that i would do this because it's just not me," Sharon Millikan said.
Tom LaFontaine, a clinical exercise physiologist and the coach of O Wow said a group like this is quite uncommon.
"This is kind of a phenomenon to see all these women pushing their limits," Tom LaFontaine said.
Kate Walker and Shelly Frazier are both world champion powerlifters, both members of O Wow, and both assistant coaches on the team. The two enjoy seeing the progress the group has made.
"It's wonderful to watch them because after you've been lifting for awhile you don't make improvements quite so quickly so we've kind of been able to live a little vicariously through them because they went from zero to sixty in no time," Shelly Frazier said.
Sharon Millikan has less experience than the rest, less ability than most in the group, but she too has made immense improvements.
"I mean I couldn't even lift the bar. Now i warm up with the bar doing lifts. And i still can't lift a lot by any means, but the improvement I've made is really incredible. So really if I can do this anybody can do it."
The group has entered the Show-Me State Games and the team plans on bringing back some hardware.
"I think all the women will get gold and set records because if you look at the record book there are no women that do this," Linda LaFontaine said.
The powerlifting competition in the Show-Me State games is on July 21, 2012.