July 16, 2013

Personal drive puts Maine novice in power-lifting record books

Aimee Leclerc, 40, sets a world record in the strict curl, lifting 60.6 pounds in the 97-pound weight class.

By Steve Craig scraig@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

Aimee Leclerc works on her strict curl – she holds the world record for her weight class in the event – at Bay Area Fitness in Belfast, where she was trained by power-lifter Ed Flanders.

Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer

click image to enlarge

Aimee Leclerc uses a weight machine that simulates a rowing motion during her workout. Using her slender legs, she can power through a set of eight repetitions of 230 pounds. “I don’t even look at the weight,” she said.

Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer

A free curl is a free-form heave with leg and back movement allowed. Leclerc said she started with a "dainty" lift because she was the first competitor in the meet and had never seen the lift in competition.

After she got the idea, she ramped up her weight and finished with a lift of 82.7 pounds.

Don't call Leclerc "tiny." She doesn't like petite, either.

You might be able to get away with "small," because it is true. She said the most she ever weighed was 120 -- "and it wasn't muscle" -- when she was a freshman at the University of South Florida.

"I have the metabolism of a hummingbird," she said.

Leclerc said her workload lessens in the summer, giving her more time to pursue her outdoor passions.

In the summer, it's not uncommon for her to go from a workout to surfing or standup paddleboarding, then an evening hockey game in a women's league. She also owns and cares for 13 sled dogs.

What she lifts in one of her twice-a-week workouts with trainer Flanders definitely is not tiny, petite or small. Often, it is more than twice her body weight.

Seat-belted onto a weight machine that simulates a rowing motion, Leclerc's slender legs quiver with exertion as she powers through a set of eight repetitions of 230 pounds.

"I don't even look at the weight, or how much it is. I don't count," Leclerc said.

Instead, she trusts Flanders to know what she can handle.

Flanders, 66, has set multiple power-lifting records. The one-time holder of the school record in the mile run at Crosby High in Belfast, he is in his 48th year as a lifter and body builder. He now holds world records in the strict curl and squat for 65- to 69-year-olds in the 181-pound division.

In the gym with Leclerc, his demeanor is calm and very quiet.

At one point, the two demonstrate the proper technique for the strict curl. Leclerc bangs out eight repetitions of 50 pounds, making an observer suggest that she could lift more than her world record.

"She might be able to do 66 pounds," Flanders said. "Adding another 10 percent, that's really a lot of weight."

After graduating from college, Leclerc moved to Lake Tahoe and began working on the ski patrol and as a personal trainer. While living in California, she took up motocross and was "fairly competitive."

Shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Leclerc felt the pull of home, she said. She returned to Maine in 2002.

She doesn't see herself attending any power-lifting competitions in the near future, but her world record has been a personal valedictory stamp on her effort and dedication.

Flanders posted her accomplishment on the Bay Area Fitness sign along Route 1.

Leclerc said that when she saw the sign, it took her a moment to realize that she was the one being celebrated.

"Then I had to pull over and I started bawling. I don't think I understood what I had done until that moment," she said.

So what's next for Leclerc? She may try a form of body building known as figure, in which definition and body symmetry matter more than bulk.

And what about those 13 sled dogs she feeds and trains? Has she ever thought about entering the Iditarod in Alaska?

"Heck no. That makes the stuff I do look easy," she said. 

Steve Craig can be contacted at 791-6413 or at:


Twitter: SteveCCraig


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