Weightlifting restores wellness for 72-year-old Viera man

Dan Adovasio excels in the weight lifting competition.


Four years ago, Dan Adovasio, now 72, couldn’t squeeze his 400-pound girth into most chairs and struggled even to stand. Three weeks before he was to remarry, his kidneys failed.

“I decided I had to do something to change my life. I didn’t want to be in a wheelchair. If I live to 90, I want to be able to carry my groceries into the house,” he said.

The Viera State Farm Insurance agent joined Healthy Evolution Fitness and befriended trainer Derek Harshman, 33. “When Dan started, he didn’t do much with his arms. We started with movement and basic health. And soon he could at least get up and down.”

Now, he’s Harshman’s example of success in becoming healthy after 65. “He almost never misses a workout; he’s persistent and he only eats healthy.”

Adovasio went on a “clean” Keto diet and lost 120 pounds in a year. “I’m motivated by being competitive, so I asked Derek about powerlifting, strong-man stuff. I started lifting in January 2019 and got really excited,” he said.

He works out three days a week for an hour to 90 minutes each. “My first competition was last year at the Senior Games, and lo and behold, I won in my group. I got three gold medals.”

Last month, Adovasio competed in the 29th annual Florida Senior Games Powerlifting Competition in Orlando. The competition was tough. He earned bronze medals, but increased the weight he lifted to 133 pounds in the bench press and 336 pounds in the deadlift.

Just before the pandemic shutdowns, Adovasio set a new state record at the U.S. Powerlifting Association’s Battle of the Bay in deadlift weight with 352 pounds. His next goal is to beat the national deadlift weight of 402.3 pounds and to begin squat lifting. “My shoulders aren’t quite there yet,” he admitted.

His wife, Kathy, supports his pastime 100 percent. “There’s no age that can keep you from what you want to do. He’s a living example.”

Robert Keller, chairman of the championship USA Powerlifting Florida, said powerlifting is an aerobic exercise “scientifically proven to help with osteoporosis, bone density and muscle loss.” He said powerlifting is a “clean sport for all — and it’s never too late to start. We have ladies who start in their 90s.”

Robert Czech of Port St. Lucie, 85, set two American Master’s records at the recent Senior Games. “It’s my fountain of youth,” he said.