I’m Not An Athlete.
Or at least, that’s what I tell myself. At 27 years of age, I have never once been part of a sports team, I always dreaded track and field days at school, and if given the choice, I’d pick reading a book over going to the gym any day of the week.
The one thing I always loved doing at the gym (once I’d dragged myself over there), was lifting weights. I loved the powerful feeling I would get by lifting something new, by seeing what my body could handle. I loved the control of it, the zen-like focus of it because if you’re holding weights, that’s all you’re thinking about. Cardio could take a hike for all I cared. Weight lifting had my heart.
Fast track to a few years ago. I finally found a trainer that believed in me, who I trusted and cherished. I started to look forward to working out, something I could only have ever dreamed about in the past. She planted a seed with an off-hand suggestion that I might enjoy powerlifting, and she knew just the gym.
After a stroke of luck (winning a pass to Iron Lion Training in a raffle), I joined ILT as a member. This has been one of the best decisions of my life. I met incredible people, trained with the best coaches and upped my exercise game to a point I didn’t know I had in me. And then an opportunity was put before me. A powerlifting program. Three months. A competition. Did I want in?
I did. I jumped at the opportunity and signed up. I had no idea what was in store but I wanted to be a part of it.
Coach Steph and Ron trained us on the lifts that our fabulous team (much love to Katelyn, Cam and Tanja!) would be working on: Squat, Bench Press, and Deadlift. We started immediately with “just the 45lb bar”. I thought I was going to die. I remember attempting to lift it up so that I could put it back in its standing holster and barely making it. God, if I couldn’t lift the bar, how in the world was I going to powerlift?
But I kept going. I didn’t want to quit. This was a new experience that I was determined to ride through.
I did all my required cardio on days when I didn’t lift and came to all my lift sessions (barring a week away). If I was going to do this program, I was going to do it to the best of my abilities.
I added plates to the bar, day by day, week by week. Every time I came back to the gym, I came back a little stronger and little more confident. While I first could barely hold the 45lb bar aloft, I was suddenly benching 105lb, squatting 155lb and deadlifting 165lb. In a few short months, that seed that had been planted long ago became a reality: I was a powerlifter.
I didn’t really think much about the competition aspect of the program. Part of me figured if I didn’t enjoy the program, I wouldn’t bother competing. But suddenly, the competition wasn’t that far away. I had to make a choice. Would I buck up and do it? Or would I bow out?
I took some time to think about it. It was an expense, with the purchase of a singlet and entrance into the competition. And it was a risk. Did I feel like I knew enough to even be competing? Who was I to think that I could run with the big dogs and lift with women who’d been competing for years?
But… I’d gotten this far and I was getting better each time I got under the bar. I knew if I said “No” to the competition, I’d regret it. So I signed up and kept training.
There were two things running through my mind before the competition.
The first: I didn’t want to look stupid. That’s always a huge fear for me. Looking or appearing incompetent to others is something I fear on a daily basis. I didn’t want to go into this new situation and fall flat on my face.
The second: What if I got up there and choked? Or didn’t go up at all? I kept thinking back to when I was 11 or 12 and I was set to perform in a piano recital. Though I knew the song, by the time the day of the recital arrived, I couldn’t do it. I cried and begged my teacher and my parents to not make me perform. I didn’t want that to happen again.
The day of the competition arrived and I was nervous. I had butterflies dancing the samba in my tummy. But I decided one thing. I may end up looking stupid or messing up. But I was not going to quit. I had put in my time and it was all leading up to getting in front of some judges and showing them what I had learned. I may not perform well, but I was going to put on a show, no matter what.
After what felt like an eternity, it was finally my turn to do my first lift: Squat. After a hardy slap on the back from Coach Ron, I walked swiftly to the bar, got under it, got comfortable, and did what I knew how to do.
And so I did for the next two squats, three bench presses and three deadlifts. At the end of the competition, I had been successful on all my lifts. When I was done, I ran to my mom, hugged her, and cried.
I had done what I had set out to do. I hadn’t quit. I had put in the work and it had paid off. I was proud of myself. And best of all, I had my amazing team and my parents there cheering me on.
When I think of the amount of work that went into getting me from barely being able to lift the bar with no weights on without assistance, to deadlifting close to my own weight, it quite frankly astounds me. What’s more, I can’t wait to see how much further I can go.
Now that the competition is over, all I can think about is when the next competition will be.
Turns out, I’m a bit of an athlete.
Guest Blog by: Jane Waldner, aka Reign of Jane, aka Jane the Athlete.
If you’d like to get in touch with your inner athlete, start by getting in touch with Iron Lion Training! Our expert coaches have years of experience, and a compassionate, client-centred approach.
Iron Lion Training, 1485 Dupont, #312, Toronto, ON, 647-998-LION (5466)