At 62, she can probably out lift you

After divorce, St. Petersburg woman finds new strength in powerlifting.
Published July 22

When at a spa with her daughter in Clearwater, a man remarked at the size of Liz Goldstein’s arms. At 62, her biceps are nearly 13 inches round.

She brushes off his comment, but not before convincing the man to do push-ups in the middle of the spa while she watches.

It’s common for the fiery divorcee who self-identifies as “shallow” to receive both compliments and concerns about her figure. She’s meticulously built her body for the past four years, consistently morphing into better versions of herself both physically and emotionally.

Goldstein is a powerlifter. She has set multiple records through the United States Powerlifting Association, which focuses on three lifts: the squat, bench press and deadlift. Athletes are categorized by sex, age and body weight.

Eventually, she’d like to transition into competing as a bodybuilder. But at her age, it’s hard to gain the muscle where it matters — her legs, stomach and butt.

“I don’t look bad for my age, I’m happy. I’m content. But it’s a different category to be a bodybuilder,” Goldstein says. “I mean, Arnold Schwarzenager, he’s beautiful. He always was.”

So she focuses on what she can do. At her best, Goldstein has deadlifted 220 pounds, squatted 170 pounds and bench pressed 120 pounds.

In March 2018, Goldstein entered her first competition, the United States Powerlifting Association’s 4th Annual Virginia Open. She was the oldest person participating and ranked first in her category.

“It’s my happiness. It’s my fun. For me, it’s a joy,” Goldstein said.

Since, Goldstein has competed in multiple powerlifting competitions — she continues to break records, too.

At the International Powerlifting League’s Midwest Open in October 2018, she placed first in the Masters 60-64 division.

At the Orlando Europa Expo in April, Goldstein was one of just two 62-year-olds present. Four others were above age 60, the youngest was 17. Again, she ranked first in her category.

A former realtor, restaurant owner and electrologist, the St. Petersburg woman is on an epic search to understand who she is, where she fits in and, she hopes, find a man older than 48 with 16-inch biceps.

Yet, Goldstein knows one thing for sure, as printed on a T-shirt she recently purchased: “It’s all about me, me, me, me, me, me, me.”

Goldstein wasn’t always like this, however. For 28 years she remained steadfast in an abusive marriage.

“He became extremely abusive to all of us and we were walking on eggshells for a long time,” Goldstein said.

Like many victims of emotional abuse, Goldstein hadn’t realized the nature of her relationship with her husband. She didn’t think she could take care of her children alone, much less make a home for them without her husband. Goldstein said it wasn’t until he hit her that she truly understood the situation she and her children were in. The divorce was finalized in 2015.

“Verbal abuse is one thing. You don’t even realize you’re being abused because you’re so used to the lifestyle,” Goldstein said. “But finally, you hit me once and that’s it.”

Today, Goldstein says she doesn’t believe in divorce, despite the fact that she’s been through one. She moved to St. Petersburg about six months ago after a short stint in Virginia, despite living in Florida for a large part of her life. Currently, her daughter resides in New Port Richey as an elementary school teacher. Her son lives in Tampa.

She now adds to her mantra that “nothing lasts forever.”

And while she casually visited the gym throughout her marriage, it’s now become her life — eat, sleep and workout.

“You get divorced when you’re 58. You say, ‘Oh, my goodness. I have to change everything,’” Goldstein said.

“Plus you have to unlearn …” her daughter, Stephanie Marinelli, 30, starts.

“All the evil,” Goldstein interrupts.

“ … abusive tendencies,” Marinelli says.

Goldstein works out for three reasons: to wear a bikini, go to the beach and to look good naked.

She lifts at LA Fitness on Fourth Street North. She has a corner of the gym where she feels most comfortable, but Goldstein is always open to trying new exercises.

She will workout with almost anything, including aerial silks and a pole — as long as it’s fun.

Marinelli says her mom also keeps herself mentally and physically active this way.

Goldstein’s also learning the ins and outs of dating websites, oftentimes calling on Marinelli to figure out an awkward situation.

It helps, but also hurts, that Goldstein is clear in what she’s looking for, “I want a man that has more muscle than I do.”

Contact aconnor@tampabay.com.

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