NEW YORK - As an active 77 year old, Edith Wilma Connor enjoys doing step aerobics with her great-granddaughter. But pumping iron is the real passion of the oldest female competitive bodybuilder.
"When I'm getting ready for competition, I go as heavy as I can," said Connor, who was awarded the title by Guinness World Records. "To me it's fun to add another 25 pounds (11.3 kilograms) and do it."
Connor, who is based in Denver, Colorado, is a late bloomer who began to pursue fitness in her 60s, to counterbalance the sedentary work the data entry company she owned with her husband demanded.
"It was something I could do by myself, for myself," Connor explained. "It was a tension releaser. I sit at a computer all day, so it was one way for me to take it out on the weights instead of the employees."
On her 65th birthday she entered her first competition, the Grand Masters in Las Vegas, and won first place.
"At that point, I was hooked," said Connor who went on to become a certified personal trainer specializing in the mature body.
Her day starts with an aerobic or other warm up exercise followed by weight training. Typically for bodybuilders, all body parts are not trained during each session.
She works out at least three times a week and does not diet, preferring to follow the nutritional guidelines she developed over time for her body type.
"I allow myself a few pounds, until my clothes don't fit right, then it's got to come off," Connor said. "It's a mindset."
She lost her husband of 57 years two weeks after her last competition, in 2011.
"But he did get to see my Guinness certificate," said Connor, who is on the mend from shoulder surgery in November.
"I've started back," she said. "I started doing weights again in April. I'm still sticking with my body building, although right now I feel I won't do any competitions this year."
Connor has not retired. She still runs her data entry business and continues to coach fitness and nutrition to her five female clients, all over 50 years old.
She has body building equipment in her home, along with a treadmill and a stepper for cardio work.
"At my age, I still like to move. I'm not the sedentary type," she said. "(Bodybuilding) gave me a good way out. Something I can enjoy, something I can pass on. And I am passing it on."
She has three sons, seven grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
" My youngest son was my first trainer," Connor said. "Now my oldest grandson (also a certified personal trainer) is my trainer and my great-granddaughter works out with me."
She said winning the title of oldest female competitive body builder "made her day," and relishes the attention her unusual hobby-age combination attracts.
"At the gym one day I was with my trainer, who was putting the plates on (adding weights to the equipment) when a guy said to him, 'Red, can you handle that?'" she said.
"The trainer told him, 'Oh, it's not for me, it's for her.'"she added. "It was a lot of fun."