MANKATO, Minn. (WCCO) – Jo Ann Burns owns a gym in Mankato and she holds a national record for her age and weight in the dead lift and squat.

She is a power-lifting mom who’s 12-year-old daughter is following in her footsteps and an 8-year old daughter isn’t too far behind.

For Burns, fitness is her entire life. She owns DCS Fitness in Mankato but weight lifting became her passion when she was 26 years old.

Now 45, Burns has the national record for her age and weight in the dead lift and squat.

Burns’ best dead lift is 305 pounds her best squat is 230.

Both are good enough for national records but not good enough for Burns.

She wants to dead lift 350 and squat 275 at nationals.

In power lifting, it’s not like you’re competing against anyone else — you are competing against your last lift and you always want to do better.

Burns say it’s all about how you train.

She says powerlifting is not about muscle, it’s about heart and a desire to be the best you can be.

“That’s the great thing about power lifting, you either get the lift or you don’t and you know exactly what you didn’t do right and what you have to perfect the next time that you lift,” she said. “What I do here is the fountain of youth. It really is the lifting weights. It keeps you young. It keeps you strong.”

Some women may think that strength is a setback, Burns believes it is what now attracts women to the sport.

“You know we are still fighting these stereotypes of ‘I’m going to get big and bulky if I am in the weight room,’ but what I am seeing is a resurgence, especially over the last five years, you see more of the younger women really into training,” Burns said.

Jo Ann’s daughter, 12-year-old Jordan, is the next generation of power lifters.

The Mankato East Junior High seventh grader’s records include a 100-pound deadlift and a 105-pound squat.

“It feels pretty special that I am at the top. I’m usually not at the top for running and doing physical activity but this is something that I got, I’m special in,” she said.

Special is the time mother and daughter have together.

“It’s fun to be with my mom and train with my mom knowing that I have a national record holder in my family to train with, help me out,” she said.

Two national record holders in one family and now the youngest Burns got in on the act.

Eight-year-old Sadie made her powerlifting debut at nationals.

“I’ve been really in the competitive ring as long as Sadie has been a baby, so that is the only thing she knows. She has always seen me training or lifting so that is something of great interest to her because she always seen me do, sees me doing it all the time,” Burns said.

Now Sadie will get an opportunity to train alongside mom and her big sister. Success is what this mother wants for her, as well as the those who look up to her.

“It’s very touching as a mom that my girls want to follow in my footsteps,” she said. “That tells me that I have done things right along the way.”


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