Don Collins is breaking records as a senior powerlifter
Story By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski | PHOTO BY CHRIS MORTENSON
Don Collins has done plenty in his 61 years. The Playa Vista resident has worked with submarines and in the nonprofit technology and scientific sector.
His “strength,” some could say, is more remarkable: He can leg press 2,000 pounds.
“Someone mentioned if I kicked anyone with these legs, I would kill them,” Collins says with a laugh.
In September, he competed in the United States Powerlifting Association Drug Tested Southern California Open in Long Beach. There, he broke records for the lift, squat and bench press along with the dead lift.
It was his first competition of the sort. The success in Long Beach allowed him to qualify for the Drug Tested World Championship in Costa Mesa in early November. There, he surpassed his weight in Long Beach.
“I deadlifted 469.6 pounds,” Collins says. “It was 3.2 times my body weight. I want to go for four times. I’ve been lifting weights throughout my life. The first time I competed in official powerlifting competitions, I broke records. I was just doing it to get strong. I wasn’t looking to compete.”
His workout regimen complements his other lifelong hobby: hockey. The Massachusetts native started playing the sport when he was just 5.
“Baseball followed,” he says. “I played in all the youth leagues and all that.”
Back then, his position of choice was goalie, which was easy for the 5-foot 2-inch, 110-pound athlete.
“When I was a young kid — the youngest kid on the block — I was the smallest kid on the block, so I ended up playing goalie,” he says.
Armed with a degree in mechanical engineering from University of Lowell, Collins worked on improving nuclear submarines and, eventually, new submarines.
“Then the Cold War ended, and I had to find something else to do,” says Collins, who earned a master’s from George Washington University. “They were cutting the Department of Defense budgets. I had worked on my master’s in systems engineering.”
He landed a job at the Department of Energy in clean energy technology. Subsequently, Collins was recruited to answer a nonprofit technology and scientific research center in Laramie, Wyoming. He worked there for 13 years.
There, he began to lift and play hockey regularly. It came out of necessity: Being in shape helped him avoid injury as a recreational hockey player.
“If I didn’t stay in good condition, I’d hurt myself and I’d have a lifelong injury,” he says. “In my mid-40s, I started lifting more consistently. I’d play adult rec league hockey once a week.”
He and his wife moved to Playa Vista in April 2020 to be near their daughter and son-in-law.
“They were getting ready to have grandchildren, so we moved out here to enjoy that journey of life,” he says.
Collins hasn’t played hockey since the COVID-19 pandemic started. He’s hoping that leagues will start again, specifically in El Segundo. To prepare, he trains at least four times a week at Different Breed Strength and Conditioning in Playa Vista with the owner/head strength and conditioning coach, Kyle Shepherd.
He is Collins’ son-in-law.
“He said I have good genetics,” Collins says with a laugh. “He said, by lifting, I have a really good foundation and base to work from. It’s probably from playing hockey. I played it as a kid all the time during the summer. I have very muscular legs and that helps with the squat and deadlift.”
He acknowledges that bodies plateau. Collins knows he hasn’t hit that yet. He’s going to continue to push.
“It’s good to have these goals,” he says. “The next world championship is in July in Las Vegas. I’m going for it then.
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