If you’re an individual who misses feeling fit and vibrant like you did when you were a kid, today’s story will inspire you. If you’re an individual who’s life has fallen into the same routine of going to work, sitting on the couch, going to bed and getting up just to do it all over again, the people I’m going to tell you about might make you finally make that switch to strive for something more.
Why? Because just like you, these seven women work full time jobs, have kids, partners, and homes to care for, are attending college for Masters degrees, and explore other outside interests like knitting, farming, hiking, skiing, you name it. They are about as real and down to earth as you could ever imagine.
Back in 2014 when real [FIT] life was just expanding into our first physical space I had delved into the sport of Powerlifting. It was a big jump for me but I fell in love with the discipline and the level of empowerment I immediately recognized that lifting heavy stuff gave me. It was only natural, now that we were in this new space with bars and bumper plates and racks aplenty that our real [FIT] life members would also learn to lift. Little did I know then that we would actually one day, in the very near future, have a Powerlfiting team.
Back in our Schenectady days, Carol, Katie, and Jayne had just joined our community and Jessica, who had already been training with me for a couple years, followed with me to our new home. It was a big deal for us to have our first real gym seeing as prior to this time all of our programs were in remote locations where I had to carry all of our fitness equipment in and out of the studio. It had limited us to what we had to work with.
At our new fully equipped gym, as I started to teach the key lifts (back squat, bench press, and deadlift) to our members, we really took our time learning all the important mechanics of each lift and ensuring that everyone had good form and worked at a level that was appropriate for them. Weight was not haphazardly loaded onto the bars. We tracked progress and gradually added slightly more load as ability and technique improved.
It’s really incredible when you get to see someone progress from squatting to a bench with just a bar on there back to that next step where they don’t need the box anymore and now there is a significant amount of weight on their back.
I still remember, back when we were still in Schenectady, the day Jessica squatted 100 pounds and proceeded to do a happy dance after. Milestones like these are meant to be celebrated and it’s part of the process that makes it so invigorating.
I also remember the day Jessica first came to work with me. She was severely out of shape and highly resistant to exercise. To her credit, aside from some really stern side glances she’d give me when I gave her the nudge she needed, she never stopped attending her sessions. So when we started to incorporate these key lifts, all the work Jessica had put in to create a strong foundation of strength allowed her to seamlessly segue into the squat, bench, and deadlift. It wouldn’t be until a little later that we would recognize how perfectly suited Jessica was for Powerlifting. Given that Jessica just returned to heavy lifting several months ago, after a necessary medical procedure, the numbers Jessica has lifted are all the more impressive. Even though she had to take a break, her new personal records have STILL exceeded her prior ones.
As for Carol, the best way I can describe her when she started with us at real [FIT] life, and I mean this affectionately, is a giraffe on stilts. Carol is tall and lean, and at the time had not been working out. Her body was incredibly mobile so she really had to work to balance and stabilize during all of her movements. I wish I had photos of her when she started with us. As Carol continued to lift with us her body just transformed into this lithe but muscular powerhouse. There are days I just stand there and watch her lift and get mesmerized by the ripples in her back and arms. It’s SO cool. Carol can pull a 270 pound bar off the floor so nonchalantly, you’d think she was picking up one of her boys socks, which she’ll tel you she does a lot.
And then there’s Katie, who is so sweet and pleasant and the biggest ray of sunshine who has taken to lifting in a way that inspires me. She’s very hard on herself but that drive also motivates her to eat, sleep, and breathe lifting in a way that it propels her to improve overnight. There have been times that I’ve given Katie feedback on something that needs improving and it will frustrate her in that moment. But then she’ll go home, practice some air lifts in her kitchen while keeping my feedback in mind, come back to the gym, pick up the bar and do exactly what I told her to do. That’s dedication and that’s love of the sport.
Katie even got certified as a USAPL Ref this past year and now helps run lifting meets and judges the other peoples lifts. I can pretty much guarantee that when Katie started training with us in Schenectady, that she never would have thought that this is where she would end up. Katie also embodies what our real [FIT] life community is about and makes every new person feel incredibly welcome. It’s fitting that she is also our real [FIT] life Powerlifting Team President.
Let me tell you about Jayne next. Jayne was my toughest sell and is my my most devoted convert. An avid fitness buff and gym rat since near birth, Jayne came to me with high expectations and she keeps me on my toes. I appreciate that greatly and it’s pretty endearing. Jayne is a tiny powerhouse with incredible spunk. In addition to working full time, she’s also working on her Masters in Nutrition. Jayne competes in bench and deadlift. She also has the most beautiful squats, but due to a knee condition that cause severe inflammation if she goes lower than parallel, they just aren’t worth the after affect of pain. Watching Jaynes deadlift grow has been a pleasure and I’m really excited to watch her beat her prior numbers this coming week.
The four ladies I have just told you about, by the way, are not only incredibly strong, they also embody true examples of strong, fit, well balanced, healthy living.
We only train specifically for Powerlifting once a year. Each January is when we compete so fourteen weeks prior to the meet our powerlifting participants start their training for the competition. Some of our members participate in the program but don’t enter the meet. This year we had eight members train for the full fourteen weeks. Five of them are entering the USA Powerlifting NorthEast Iron Beast Winter Classic V in Latham, NY this Saturday, January 20th starting at 9am.
The rest of the year our members still train the key lifts in their programming when it’s fitting but it’s not their sole focus. Taking these fourteen weeks to train and see how much stronger everyone has gotten is always an exciting time. Although our sessions are well planned, and we have a general idea of where to start and what we’re shooting for, it’s like waiting for the big reveal.
Since our Schenectady days, real [FIT] life has moved twice. After Schenectady, we spent eighteen months sharing space with another gym on Western Ave in Albany. During that time our membership continued to grow and that’s when Tanya and Amy joined us.
Amy was very interested in lifting the moment she walked through the door. She trains with us three times a week and is a lot of fun to have around. While she works a demanding job and devotes a lot of time and energy to raising her boys, Amy also make time for herself at our gym. Like all our other members, she’s become part of our community and we look forward to seeing her there. Amy used to experience severe back problems before starting at real [FIT] life so its’ pretty incredible (but not surprising) that she can now squat, bench and deadlift good amounts of weight with ease. This past year Amy also really grew to like benching. While it used to scare her, she said that now she loves it and it’s become her favorite lift. I love when people turn that corner.
When Tanya started with us, she had lost quite a bit of weight. She came to real [FIT] life ready to increase her fitness levels and lose a little bit more. Like the rest of our members I’m pretty sure that Tanya never envisioned that process to include the lifting that she does now. One of my favorite recent Tanya moments was the day we incorporated her first chin ups. Chin ups have to be earned at our gym and she’s working really hard at them!
Our next move for real [FIT] life brought us to where we are now, our permanent home at 8 Corporate Circle in Albany, NY. We moved in September 2016 and we have thoroughly enjoyed having our own gym filled with all of our favorite lifting toys. Every member has their own lifting station and we have lots of extra floor space for metabolic rounds, walking lunges, farmer walks and anything else that requires some extra space.
After our final move Tanya got her friend Kim to join. Kim has made tremendous progress since starting with us and she also participated in our Powerlifting Program. I’m excited to see where Kim will be in another year from now because her squats and deadlifts have increased significantly during this time. On the week we tested singles, Kim deadlifted 200lbs on her last set and it looked easy. Not bad for a woman who just learned to deadlift about fourteen weeks ago!
The last person I want to tell you about is Dana. Dana is one of our youngest members at real [FIT life and when she came to us it was specifically because she wanted to powerlift. Full disclosure, Dana’s uncle is my partner, and when I first met her at a family dinner out, she sat across from me. “So” she said to me with a big smile and gleam in her eye, “I hear that you’re a lifting coach. I SO want to learn how to powerlift.” I’m paraphrasing a little but it was totally cute.
Soon after that we got Dana into the gym a couple times a week and I also gave her some extra squatting to do on her own. We started training her deadlifts and bench about four weeks before the Powerlfiting Program began so all of this is really new for her. But she’s a natural and she has done an incredible job keeping her head on straight, focusing on the feedback I give her, and staying the course. For a starting lifter, her technique and her numbers are impressive.
On Saturday, Dana, Katie, Carol, Jessica, and Jayne will be competing in the USA Powerlifting Northeast Iron Beast Winter V as part of our real [FIT] life Powerlifting Team. This will be a fourth competition for Carol, Katie, and Jayne. For Jessica, it will be her third, and of course for Dana, her first. Their attempt numbers are selected and I’m so excited for them to have the opportunity to put all of their hard work and dedication on display and hit some new personal records.
Amy, Kim, and Tanya are going to test their maxes at real [FIT] life in a mini meet setting.
We have many amazing members, men and women, training at real [FIT] life who did not participate in this program. At some point I’ll highlight some of them as well.
On a number of occasions I have had new members or visitors at our gym tell me how special a place we have, to see so many women all lifting together in one space, and looking comfortable and happy while they do it. I agree.
To me, there is nothing different or out of the ordinary for women to be lifting heavy, working hard, and hitting personal records. It’s just another average yet extraordinary day at real [FIT] life, and I’m the lucky person who gets to witness it all the time.
If you’d like to come see our real [FIT] life Team compete, lifting starts at 9am for Carol, Dana, Jayne, and Katie, Jessica lifts in the afternoon at 2pm. Stop by and be amazed. USAPL events are special and I’m thrilled that our real [FIT] life Powerlfiting Team is a part of this meet once again.
Go here for the details.
Founder, real [FIT] life
“Helping people live happier, healthier, longer, stronger lives,
one lift at a time.”
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