At age 73, Allen Parness of Merrill keeps fit so he can continue to pursue his lifelong passion for power lifting. Parness took a silver medal in the bench press at the recent Wisconsin Senior Olympics with a 160-pound lift. The power lifting competition was held Aug. 27 at the Brickyard Gym in Milwaukee.
The Wisconsin Senior Olympics added power lifting in 2007. Parness has been competing in the Senior Olympics for the past four years and has amassed a collection of gold, silver and bronze medals from the games.
Preparations for this year’s games hit a snag for Parness when he needed surgery this spring. Determined to get back on the bench, Parness resumed his daily training regimen at Riverside Athletic Club in Merrill as soon as he was able.
“He made a miraculous recovery and started working out,” said Allen’s long-time friend and training partner, Richard “Lucky” Luckman. “I didn’t expect him to walk out of there.”
“The main thing was to get healthy,” Parness added. “I’ve always loved the sport.”
Parness has been power lifting for 55 years and even held a national record for a time. He used to compete in the deadlift and squat as well as the bench press.
“I’ve been doing it since I was a young man and I’ll keep doing it as long as I can,” Parness said.
Part of what keeps Parness hooked on competing is the chance to spend time with other power lifters. The Wisconsin Senior Olympics draws about 300 competitors, both men and women, ages 55 and up.
“The camaradarie is fantastic,” Parness said.
Parness can be found at Riverside Athletic Club nearly every day, either participating in the Silver Sneakers class or doing his own workout program. His workouts aren’t all focused on power lifting, but include a routine of different exercises.
Luckman also power lifted competitively for 15 years and even set a world record in 1975. He still lifts to stay in shape while helping his friend prepare for competitions.
“We’ve been friends since just out of high school,” Parness said. “He’s my coach, I’ve got somebody there to push me on.”
Allen’s advice for other seniors is to keep moving.
“Stay active, exercise, do what you can,” he said. “Exercise is number one for everybody.”