Montreal

Vaudreuil's 74-year-old bodybuilder hopes to inspire all ages to hit the gym

Peter Nicoll has been lifting weights since he was 15 years old and wants to encourage other people to take up weightlifting as well – especially seniors.

Peter Nicoll has been weightlifting since he was 15

Bodybuilder Peter Nicoll stresses proper dumbbell technique to CBC reporter Sarah Leavitt. (Sarah Leavitt/CBC)

As a former mechanic, senior bodybuilder Peter Nicoll knows that if you don't keep using a machine it breaks down.

Nicoll, 74, has been lifting weights since he was 15 years old and wants to encourage other people to take up weightlifting as well — especially seniors.

"It increases bloodflow, it especially increases bone density," Nicoll said.

"We lose bone density as we get older, so you slip on the ice, hurt your hip and you'll never be the same."
Nicoll says proper technique is the most important thing at the gym. (Submitted by Peter Nicoll)

The bodybuilder has been busy preparing for the Mike Clement Classic bodybuilding competition in Vaudreuil Saturday.

Naturally reserved, strutting on-stage in a bodybuilding competition isn't an obvious pastime for Nicoll.

Before retiring he worked as a mechanic at Air Canada and one of his colleagues would compete regularly.

He always came in first or second place at various bodybuilding competitions.

Nicoll thought they had similar builds so competing might be worth a try for him as well.

He said the first time he took part in a completion he was so terrified he thought he would collapse on stage but the camaraderie and support from other contestants helped him through.

Confidence and balance

The benefits of being fit go beyond physical health though — Nicoll said lifting gives him an emotional and mental boost.

It also gave him confidence when he was young.

He came to Canada from England when he was eight years old and had a hard time fitting in at first.

His mother sent him to a Catholic school since she thought the Protestant school would be "too tough."

Nicholl remembers being brutally bullied on his first day.

Peter Nicoll at a bodybuilding competition. (Courtesy Peter Nicoll)
"Because I went to school in a little cap, grey flannel shorts, and a blue blazer and tie," he said.

"And everyone had a big laugh at the English accent."

He said that's when his dad decided to push the insecure boy into athletics so that he could stand up for himself in the future.

Nicholl got that chance years later when he was in high school and its main bully decided to chokehold him.

"I picked him up and held him over the bannister and the guy started to cry and scream and the whole school applauded," he said, adding that the bully never picked on anyone after that incident.

Start slow, build technique

While Nicholl would recommend everyone start working out, he says it's important to start slow.

He said getting a trainer and being sure to learn the right technique are essential to staving off injury.   

The important thing is that a person keep moving, even if it's just going on long walks.

"It's like an old car," Nicholl said.

"If you don't use an old car it starts to leak, it starts to squeak, and it's the same with us. We start to seize up."

with files from CBC's Sarah Leavitt

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