So, how much do you bench?

Jack Peters, 76, won first place for lifting 178 pounds in the

Jack Peters, 76, might not be the best dancer, but he can
probably outlift you.
GILROY – Jack Peters hears the catcalls when he sits on the bench.

“He belongs in a hole.”

“They let him out early.”

At age 76, it isn’t until after Peters shoves nearly 200 pounds off his chest that he gets the credit a competitive weight lifter deserves from his peers.

“I’m old,” Peters says. “Let’s face it, I’m not doing anything incredible.”

Maybe he’s not the hulk, but how many 70-year-olds are hitting the gym hard five days a week?

“He’s a fixture,” says David Jurevich, owner of Net Fitness gym in Gilroy with his wife Cristina.

Daily chest and arm workouts are the reason Peters recently won a state championship in his age division (75-78), putting up 178 pounds on the bench press at the West Coast Open Bench Press and Deadlift Championships in Sacramento on August 30. Peters says it’s the 12th title he’s won, and thinks it could lead to his 13th award this November when he competes at the World Bench Press and Deadlift Championships in Las Vegas.

A steady diet of dumbbells and 45-pound plates on the both sides of the bar have allowed Peters to gain accolades, as well as acceptance from his doctor.

“If I’m a little overweight and eat too much candy,” Peters says, ‘my doctor says, ‘So what.’

“He says, ‘Take that snickers and cut it in half.’ ”

The chances of Peters cutting his workouts back aren’t likely, though.

The former movie theater entrepreneur says he’ll continue to go to Net Fitness, “as long as I’m walking.”

He and his wife, Carol, a former schoolteacher at Gilroy High, are retired and live in Gilroy, a place Peters has called home since 1958. Four years after graduating from Santa Clara with an English degree, he somehow ended up running theaters in town. Peters owned Strand Theater as well as a drive-in at Hecker Pass.

That same funky road is how he fell into weight lifting about 15 years ago.

“I just got into it as a hobby and stuck with it,” he says.

While Peters is proud of the shape he’s in for his age, he does admits that he could mix up his routine a little more, perhaps trying the gym’s yoga, pilates, or kickboxing classes.

“I wish I was a little more flexible,” he says. “I can’t dance good.

“But for 76, what do I need to dance for? I’m not John Travolta.”

One thing Peters does need is a little help from his friends every now and then. With a bad back, the owners as well as fellow workout partners Al Tortorelli and Chuck Ortwein – who both took first place at Sacramento in the deadlift for their respective age divisions – often help Peters off the bench.

“I appreciate all the help everyone gives,” he says.

With the Worlds coming up in a couple months, Peters and company won’t be hard to find the next eight weeks.

“Some guys die in the sack, some guys die on the golf course,” he says. “I’m gonna die in the gym.”