ALLENTOWN, Pa. Fred Glass has not forgotten the days when he weighed 99 pounds and fought to avoid bullies at his Allentown, Pa., high school.
It was a curse that followed him during the four years he spent in the Air Force.
Soon after leaving the service, Glass learned that power lifting could help him gain weight. He took the lesson to heart.
More than 50 years later, at age 76, Glass is a 20-time world champion who can easily lift more than 400 pounds.
A lifetime follower of Jack LaLanne, Glass’ goals for lifting weights are more ambitious than just being strong. He wants to stay healthy and young.
“You don’t have to age,” Glass says.
He is a role model for younger weightlifters who see that you can remain strong no matter the age.
“It’s terrific,” says Chris Lottrary, a 59-year-old lifter who trains three times a week at Glass’ home. “It makes me feel like I’m going to keep going. It can be done.”
His house is filled with workout equipment and a dizzying number of medals and trophies. The most prized: his first world championship trophy, which he earned in Italy more than three decades ago. The award is particularly valuable to him because the rules of the competition did not require doping tests. He knew that some of his competitors would be using steroids.
Not only did Glass win his category, but he also was chosen the best lifter in the competition.
The win propelled his discipline. He competed in every weightlifting contest he could enter in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. He has won championships in the 123, 132, 148 and 165-pound divisions, with world records in most of them. He won all of them, he says, steroid-free.
He had tried anabolic steroids briefly at the beginning of his career in the 1960s, but quickly stopped when he learned that the side effects could cut his life short.
“I was scared,” he says. He has passed his philosophy to his pupils. The more he has grown in the sport, the more he has tried to help others.
He is still as competitive as he was when he began the sport. “How can some old guy be this strong, run and do most things that younger people can’t?” he is often asked.
He trains six times a week, avoids caffeine and sugars and eats large amounts of protein. And his secret trick: He spends time every night before he goes to sleep visualizing himself reaching his next milestone.
No matter how much he has to lift, he always has the same strategy:
“Close your eyes and pull like hell.”