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Pumping Iron

Lifters set records at WABDL meet

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PABLO — Weightlifters, ages 20 to 80, sporting shorts and T-shirts mill around in the free weights section of the gym, which hums with conversation, laughter and grunts as heavy weights are heaved into the air.

The gym is the Salish Kootenai College gym, and in the trophy case is new hardware many of these lifters brought back from a World Association of Bench-pressers and Dead-lifters meet March 31 in Missoula.

Confederated Salish and Kootenai Chief of Police Craige Couture led a contingent of officers and a tribal prosecutor at the meet.

Weightlifting is good for law enforcement personnel who deal with physical confrontations, Couture said, since it helps them stay in shape, limits officer injuries and makes them healthier and stronger.

He’d like to get all law enforcement in the Valley involved in weight training.

“Skip and Harold are a testimony for clean living and staying in shape,” Couture added, nodding his chin at two older weightlifters, who aren’t affiliated with the police department.

Although he’s not a police officer, Harold Smith, 78, set a state record of 319 pounds in the deadlift at the WABDL meet. He also received the best lifter award for ages 54 and up and was inducted into the WABDL Hall of Fame, as was the late Vic Starkel.

Skip Schacher, 72, earned a world record for the 148-pound class, ages 68-74, for lifting 198.2 pounds.

“I was inspired by an 87-year-old lady who set a couple of records,” Couture said, noting that she was grinning and having a good time during the meet.

A group of officers works out regularly at the SKC gym, including Captain Louis Fiddler. Although Fiddler’s only been lifting for 10 months, he gained 20 pounds of muscle.

Couture, who had been interested in physical fitness his whole life, urges Fiddler to eat several times a day to get the nutrition he needs. Before starting a weightlifting regime, Fiddler only ate lunch, but now he eats four or five times a day. He has a ways to go to catch up with Couture, who eats seven times a day, every two or three hours. 

“I follow a simple plan,” Couture explained, “elk or deer meat, fish or white chicken, some brown rice and fresh vegetables.”

He eats three solid meals, and for the others, he’ll choose fresh fruit, some low-sodium mixed nuts or a protein bar. Couture admits this gets kind of bland, so he might cheat once a week and have some pizza.  

Although a good diet is key, exercise is important, too. Fiddler said Couture is nice enough to allow officers to work out on their lunch hour, although he often travels from Arlee on his day off to pump some iron.

Both men said if they see someone watching them work out, they invite that person to join. 

“It’s a time for people to see you out of uniform,” Couture added. 

Fiddler agreed, saying officers can step out of their professional role during exercise.

“You always hear those jokes about cops eating doughnuts and drinking coffee,” Couture said. “Well, we’re not that kind of cops.”

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