Blinn Fitness has Rocky Balboa posters on a wall, rapper Nelly’s “Ride Wit Me” on a sound system and a gentle Rottweiler named Tank greeting the gym’s clients. In walks Cindy Buchan, who doesn’t take long to show her superpower. She can deadlift hundreds of pounds.
At 60, Buchan is qualified for a world championship event after her 319-pound deadlift June 19 at a U.S. Powerlifting Association Western Regionals competition in Newport, Oregon. She hopes to compete during Thanksgiving week at a drug-tested International Powerlifting League event in Coventry, England.
“I have lifted 330 pounds. It’s my thing,” said the Everett woman, who’s 6 feet tall and jokes about being “freakishly strong.”
Perhaps what’s most unique about Buchan can be found on a small tattoo on her forearm. It’s hardly noticeable because it’s on the palm side. The image is an ice cream cone with the ends of a barbell protruding from the scoop of ice cream. Tattooed in tiny letters on the barbell’s weights are her late father’s initials — LLB, for Larry Lloyd Buchan. He died in 2012.
It’s quite possible that hers is the only tattoo like it in the world. Cindy Buchan is not only a weightlifter, she’s part of an Everett ice cream dynasty.
She operates the Baskin-Robbins ice cream shop at 530 SW Everett Mall Way and works there seven days a week.
“I opened this store with my parents 25 years ago,” she said. Beginning in 1979, Larry and Mary Ann Buchan owned up to four Baskin-Robbins stores in Everett. At one time, they ran the shops on Colby Avenue, on Evergreen Way, inside the Everett Mall and the one on Everett Mall Way that Cindy Buchan still has.
“We were the second owner on Colby and the third owner on Evergreen,” said Buchan, whose favorite Baskin-Robbins flavor is Jamoca Almond Fudge. She said that my favorite — vanilla — is her shop’s most popular choice.
Buchan started lifting weights in 2018, a year after she was divorced.
Blinn Fitness, in a shopping center at 11419 19th Ave. SE near Silver Lake, is owned by trainer Brandon Blinn. Buchan credits Blinn with improving not only her physical abilities and health, but her outlook on life.
“It’s confidence, and understanding you’re capable of more than what you thought,” Buchan said.
Blinn went to Cascade High School with Buchan’s daughter, who graduated in 2010. He played football at Chadron State College in Nebraska and earned a bachelor’s degree in exercise science before first opening his fitness business in a storage unit. It was a goal he’d had since he was 17.
“It’s a cool community,” said Blinn, who specializes in weight training, teaching the basics. He also competes in powerlifting, a strength sport that centers on three lifts: squat, bench press and deadlift.
His gym now has about 30 members and seven independent trainers, and will soon move to a larger space in Woodinville, he said.
In powerlifting, Buchan is in the 60-64 age category, and in a weight class for women that means she doesn’t have many rivals. At the recent Oregon event, she said she didn’t win but “was awarded most inspirational.” And her lift was enough to qualify her for the world competition in England.
“I compete against myself,” Buchan said.
“She continues to amaze,” said Cathy Mitchell, Buchan’s sister. “She ran the ice cream shop through COVID when other businesses were falling apart, all the while continuing to set personal records and striving to get herself to the world competition.”
Buchan said she’s done other work, but the ice cream business suits her.
“It’s just me, I like talking to people, and the kids,” she said.
She takes care and pride in creating ice cream cakes for special occasions, and through a delivery service recently helped an out-of-town grandmother remember a loved one’s birthday.
Three mornings a week, she goes to Blinn Fitness before work. “Mondays I do squat, Wednesdays it’s deadlift, and bench on Fridays,” she said. “You need to do all three to qualify for a world record.”
On Wednesday she showed how hard that is.
Beginning with 135 pounds, she worked her way up to 205. Blinn was there with advice and encouragement with each lift as he added more weights. It didn’t look at all easy as she lifted the barbell from the floor to her hips, holding it a second before putting it down. “You don’t drop it,” she said.
There was a stretching session first, and after each lift some heavy breathing.
“That does not make me look very pretty,” Buchan said at one point. “No, but it makes you look strong,” replied Kadie Houle, a regular at the gym.
Blinn is proud of Buchan, proud of how she carries the weight with such a lighthearted spirit.
“She’s a world-class athlete now,” he said. “That’s not easy to achieve in any sport.”
Julie Muhlstein: firstname.lastname@example.org
How to help
Cathy Mitchell has launched a GoFundMe effort to raise money to help her sister, Cindy Buchan, travel to England for an International Powerlifting League competition in November. The goal is $5,000. Learn more at GoFundMe.com by searching for Get Cindy to World Powerlifting Championship.