Ipswich: Ex-teacher’s great feats of strength

STRONG is the new skinny – that’s the new buzz phrase in female fitness.

And Val Dufour, a retired primary school teacher from Ipswich, is at the leading edge in the UK.

Val, 62, is dead-lifting more than one and a quarter times her own body weight and manhandles barbells and 300lb crane tyres that would defeat young athletic teenagers and grown men alike.

Her work-outs also involve chin ups, lunges and squats while loaded with eye-watering weights and even dragging a weighted trolley – a device designed by a Samoan rugby star to train international sportsmen.

Her trainer, Ben Gray, of Ipswich Fitness, says other people in the fitness industry are astonished at what she’s achieved.

Val, however, is modest about her achievements.

“I really enjoy my sessions at the gym, they are an important part of my life. Every session is different, sometimes we’ll do weights but on others we do running. Lifting is just part of it but it’s given me so much energy.

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“Before I used to get up in the morning and have aches and pains – but no longer.

“I play basketball with teenagers at one of the youth groups at Rushmere Baptist Church, I regularly walk four miles into Ipswich and back and I’ve just done a 50-mile sponsored walk of the Suffolk coast for the Tear Fund.”

Val, of Western Close, who used to teach at Trimley St Mary Primary, originally joined the gym to help her recover from an injury – and has never looked back.

She said: “My body shape has changed especially the whole bottom/thigh area and people have remarked that I’ve lost weight. I certainly don’t look muscly, you certainly wouldn’t look at me and think I’m a woman who lifts weights. I’m now eating more healthily as well and I hardly get ill at all.”

Ben said: “Outside weight lifting circles I’ve never heard of anyone like Val. She’s amazing, there are very few people of her age who could do what she does. She’s a very gifted lifter.”