I’m feeling a little undone here so bear with me while I spout a little bit of craziness at y’all. Ready?
I started getting really serious about strength training about four years ago. At the time, my life was a mess – I was at a really low point professionally, I wasn’t sure if my physical health was going to hold up over the long term, and my mental health was, well, hanging by a thread on a good day. More about that another time. To make a long story short, I started powerlifting as kind of a stopgap project because I couldn’t do what I wanted to do – I thought, might as well learn something new while I work on getting better. Instead, I totally fell in love with it and never looked back. A year or so later I thought I’d give olympic weightlifting a shot and the same thing happened.
So, I owe what my life looks like now (which is pretty awesome and a stark contrast to where it was four years ago) to barbell sports…which is weird because I grew up in an environment where women were not encouraged to strength train. We’ve all heard that stuff, right? Don’t lift heavy weights or you’ll look like a man, you’ll get all hugified and gross looking, blah blah blah. Women should lift light weights maybe and do lots of cardio and focus on losing weight, getting smaller, sexier, prettier, more delicate…anyway, fuck all that noise because today?
Today is a pretty amazing day to be a woman in strength sports. This weekend, at the Kern US Open Powerlifting Competition, not one, not two, but THREE women broke the all-time world record Wilks score (Wilks, if you’re not familiar with it, is the scoring coefficient used in powerlifting that is based on your total squat, bench press, and deadlift in relation to your body weight) for ALL HUMANS. Not just women, but for men too. Isn’t that freaking amazing? I think it’s amazing. I’m just going to carry that around with me today because it’s insanely inspiring. The world is eventually going to have to take notice of the fact that women have the potential to be just as strong as men. We have the same muscles in the same places, and if we train those muscles in the same way (ie with big, compound lifts) we’ll get stronger. And it will definitively not turn us into giant beefy muscle-bound monsters.
On a selfish level I wish that as a society we had figured that out sooner, so that I could have had a shot at starting earlier. Instead I’ll be content to do what I can to help blaze the trail – to coach, train, educate, and lead by example so that the young people in my daughters’ generation grow up without ever being told that they can’t do something because they’re girls. The tides are turning and it feels pretty freaking good. Happy Mother’s Day to all the strong women everywhere!!