I discovered lifting weights four years ago when a good friend of mine invited me to go to the gym with her. Lifting weights was never something I had been exposed to, but I immediately fell in love with it. As someone who struggled with hand-eye coordination (let’s be honest, whole-body coordination) their whole life, organized sports were never my forte. Lifting weights didn’t require me to handle a ball with agility or be able to predict my teammate’s movement, it was all about me and how much could I pick-up, pull, or push. Turns out, that was more than I expected!
Cut to Late 2016
The year 2016 ended up being the biggest year of my life. On a personal level, I made changes to where I lived and what I did for work, among myriad other things. When you find yourself in a new city, with a new job, and not knowing anyone, the gym can be a great starting place to meet new people. I found myself at an amazing little gym within walking distance of my new home, (if you’re in Portland it’s Studio X, and I highly recommend you check it out). There I connected with a trainer who corrected my technique, pushed my limits, and encouraged me to go big. Long story short, when she suggested I sign up for a powerlifting meet, I did exactly that.
I said I would, now I have to!
You know how once you say you are going to do something, you have a new found sense of commitment? That was my training for this meet in a nutshell. I said I would, now I needed to perform. So on January 1st, I started training for my first powerlifting competition. Having no idea what to expect or what I was doing, my trainer gave me a program and I found myself in the gym four-to-five days a week for the next 14 weeks. I pushed the limits of what I thought I could do. I sweat. I shed a tear or two. I threw my hands up in victory. I screamed in frustration. There were times my body felt like it got hit by a truck. There were times I felt like I had conquered the world.
How did it go?
April 7th was the big day, and I won’t say I wasn’t nervous. Of course, I was! However, despite the nerves, I was also excited. This was it: time to see weeks of training, managing my diet, and pushing my body to its limits pay off. It was just me and the weights, and I was there to pick them up and put them down. On my first lift, I was marked down for form violations (read: apparently when nervous I lift my toes up when I squat), but once I hit my stride I had six perfect lifts and set new personal records in both my bench press and deadlift!
What was my take away?
I’m sure some of you are wondering at this point if I “won” or what place I ranked. Powerlifting meets are competitions after all, aren’t they? Yes, they are. But they also are one of the most supportive competitive experiences out there. I came in around the middle of my weight class, and for a first-time competitor that’s pretty good. I also walked away with new friends and a sense of achievement that rivals any other competitive experience I’ve had to date. The women I competed with were all amazing, strong women. Everyone was cheering each other on, and the phrase, “it’s all about competing with yourself and reaching your new personal best” was echoed throughout the day. I also walked away with a sense of personal pride. I set a goal, I worked hard, and I achieved it. That is what not only weightlifting, but any personal fitness journey is all about.
Oh, and I also walked away with a really cool new pair of deadlift socks monogrammed with the initials of my nickname, compliments of the Walker Tracker team. I’m pretty sure they helped push me to that new PR!
Have you participated in a new sport recently? Tell us about your experience. What made you decide to try a new sport or activity?