Phil Carville: Pushing limits |

Phil Carville: Pushing limits

By Phil Carville | Special to The Union

The room was quiet at the South Yuba Club while members and staff gathered to watch 80-year-old Terence Plotsky attempt to lift weights greater than the existing world record. Could he do it?

Terence is British, about 5-foot, 10-inches tall and competes in the 90-kilogram weight category. Fortified by a stocky build, by a five-day a week workout, by an omnivore’s diet, and, importantly he insists, by a three glasses daily of vodka/orange juice. Terence is a natural powerhouse. Could he do it?


Most of us know that staying active, lifting weights, and participating in cardio-vascular exercise is the best way to preserve our health and strength as we grow older — and each day, we all grow older.

But most people do not stay active, so they lose muscle mass, balance, and strength. The deterioration comes on slowly — an unsteady gait, a loss of flexibility, finding it difficult to open the jam jar which at one time was so easy to open.


What if most of us just followed a routine like Terence? Not Terence’s weights of course, but daily workouts, exercising on the treadmill or stationary cycle. We could eat almost anything we want; we would sleep better and be happier… of course the three vodka screwdrivers are optional.


Terence was born in England as World War II started. He was orphaned at 9 months when his parents were killed during Hitler’s bombing of London. He grew up in a Christian orphanage for 10 years and was later transferred to a Jewish orphanage because he was Jewish. In those days orphanages were just kid warehouses and most kids were never schooled.

At 14 and without a formal education, he hopped a ferry to France and hitchhiked Europe for several years. He says, “In those days you could go anywhere with just a thumb and no money.” Bumming around all over Europe for two years, he eventually wound up in Israel, lived in a Kibbutz, became an Israeli citizen and a famous coach who guided the young girl, Shlomit Nir, to the Israeli national and Olympic swim teams.


Terence moved to California seeking special medical help for his young daughter. Despite little formal education, Terence soon found out that his mind was a strong as he body. He built several successful businesses, has a treasure trove of fun business stories, and finally retired (he does not like that word) to Nevada County.

Terence has always worked out. One day in the gym, his son-in-law, Ben Cooper, noticed that Terence was lifting unusually heavy weight. Ben went home and googled the U.S. Powerlifting Association (USPA) to discover that Terence had exceeded national records.


Yes, he did. In the South Yuba Club last month, Terence unofficially broke the world records for the combined deadlift and bench-press. Two weeks ago, he competed in Temecula, where he broke national records for tested RAW full power, which is the combined weight for squat/deadlift and bench press.

Terence will be attending a world qualifying competition in Palm Springs this July, where he hopes to officially break the world record for unassisted squat/deadlift/bench-press. Looks like Grass Valley may have a world champion by the end of July.


We don’t have to work out like Terence. We can set our own Personal Records (PR) by just becoming more active. Just put some mild stress on our bodies and we get the benefits. Develop your own program or start with a certified personal trainer to set up the programs that are right for you.

This weekend is Memorial Day. It’s a day of remembrance and gratitude. Why not use this weekend to remember and value yourself? You are worth it.

Phil Carville is a co-owner of the South Yuba Club. He is happy to respond to questions or comments. He can be reached at

Phil Carville

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