Positive results a reality for Pa. group

February 14, 2006|by JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Five friends from Franklin County, Pa., traveled to a world powerlifting championship in January, and each returned home with a medal in their respective age and weight division.

The impressive part is that none of them had so much as touched a barbell four months earlier.

"We were outlifting people who have been lifting for years and years," said Constancia "Connie" Mendoza-Gaskill of Waynesboro.

She and the others joined champion lifter Marty Gallagher for a fitness and diet program he says is unorthodox. Their whole experience, spanning about 120 days, was filmed to be pitched as a television reality show.

"It's quite a compelling story," said Gallagher.

The group lifted for 30 minutes three times a week at Gallagher's property in Waynesboro. The participants ate a high-protein, low-fat diet and teamed up for walks five or six times a week, said Gallagher.


The training culminated at the AAU World Powerlifting and International Bench Press Championships on Jan. 27 and 28 in Richmond, Va. Twenty-one states were represented at the event, the Franklin County participants said.

Betty Snowberger of Waynesboro found herself on a platform, preparing to lift with three judges and a few hundred spectators watching.

"I was very intimidated," she said. "I felt like I couldn't do it."

However, Snowberger resolved she would not disappoint herself or those close to her. With tears in her eyes, she completed the first lift, then the second and continued until she placed first in the heavyweight class for women 60 to 64 years old.

Snowberger, who quickly earned the cheers of the crowd, squatted 110 pounds, bench pressed 88 pounds and dead lifted 159 pounds.

She lost some pounds of her own - 50 to be exact - and gained 10 pounds of muscle during the training.

Similar results were shared by the other participants.

"The weight just fell off me," said Ron Patterson of Waynesboro.

The participants said that although the cameras have stopped filming, they will continue to lift and follow Gallagher's "Purposefully Primitive Fitness" program. As Mendoza-Gaskill pointed out, they are, after all, defending champions.

Others, including Todd and Darla Barkdoll of Waynesboro, have joined the lifters' ranks.

The Barkdolls heard about the group's results. The couple contacted Gallagher because they "just want to get healthy and stay healthy," said Darla Barkdoll.

"It's hard to not want to share this with people," said Jenny Krantz of Zullinger, Pa. She dead lifted 265 pounds at the championships and is aiming to dead lift 300 pounds at a competition in March.

Krantz, Mendoza-Gaskill, Snowberger and Amira Gill of Waynesboro all won their classes at the powerlifting championships. Patterson placed third in the class for men 45 to 49 years old.

To track the group's progress or become involved, visit or e-mail

The Herald-Mail Articles