Girls Who Powerlift: Gina "Half Wolf" Aversa

Introduce yourself to the GWPL community

What's up GWPL community, Gina here! I'm 23, I grew up in Philadelphia, PA and went to school at the University of Rochester in New York. I originally got my degree intending to go into the government as a counter-terrorist analyst, but after realizing how soul-sucking sitting behind a desk all day felt to me, I decided to pursue my passion and moved to sunny San Diego, CA to work in the fitness industry. I've never regretted taking the riskier path for a second because I truly love what I do and the people I've been able to meet along the way. Oh and yes...I am actually half wolf. 
When did you get into lifting and why? 
I first started lifting weights when I was 18 because it was a mandatory part of my track and field training in college, I absolutely hated it and would come up with every excuse in the book to get out of lifting sessions (I ended up quitting track when I was 19). Being a gym rat was part of my routine though and I continued working out after track, but I had no goal to my training sessions besides just changing the way I looked. I'm somewhat of a perfectionist, so for me, it became exhausting trying to chase a 'perfect' body, which in my opinion is an intangible goal. The guy I was dating at the time was into Olympic lifting and he taught me the fundamentals to squatting and deadlifting and encouraged me to see how heavy I could go on my lifts (this was exactly two years ago). After that point, I started doing more and more research about powerlifting and the time I spent in the gym slowly changed from 'workouts' to 'training sessions', completely shifting the focus from what my body looked like, to what it was capable of. I competed in my fist competition in June of 2015 and was completely hooked after that point.  
Best meet totals to date?
I compete in both the 165/181 weight classes, my best meet total is 1146 (raw in sleeves). I hit a 413 squat, 215 bench, 518 deadlift, but I hope to blow these numbers out of the park at my next meet :)
What has been your biggest motivation throughout your powerlifting career?
The only motivation I've ever needed is the fact that I genuinely have fun while I'm training, I like setting goals and proving to myself that I can reach them. I didn't get into powerlifting with the intention of being a top-ranked lifter and if you had told me when I first started that I'd hold World Records, I would have laughed in your face. I've never been the type of person to compare myself to others or have 'idols', my mentality has always been 'me vs myself'.
Would you say that powerlifting has helped you to improve in other areas of your life, and if so, how?
The barbell has definitely taught me more life lessons than I can ever repay it for. At first, it just gave me a sort of confidence in my lifting, and then eventually that confidence transcended all other areas of my life. There's something about being able to set a goal, that at the time seems nearly impossible (like picking up 3x your bodyweight) and then actually achieving it. It sounds so cliche but I really don't give a f@#$, it honestly taught me that I'm capable of anything I set my mind to. 
Would you say that being a coach to others has helped you progress as an athlete?
I didn't expect it to but, yes! One of the biggest mistakes that I think most athletes make is confusing their path with their destination. Since we're so close to the situation, we sometimes lose sight of the big picture and the end goal. A great example is bad training days - I'm always having to remind clients that one bad day doesn't mean that they've lost all they strength or that they're getting weaker. And although I may be half wolf, I'm also half human, and the human side of me is just as guilty of the majority of the mistakes that a lot of my clients make. So the little reminders that I'm always giving them, also turn into reminders for myself.  Plus seeing the passion that a lot of my lifters have constantly re-ignites my love for this sport. 
What gets you through the tough training sessions?
Usually what keeps me pushing on those days where I'd literally rather be anywhere else than the gym or the days when everything feels inexplicably heavy, is my desire to not have any regrets on the platform. I've had training cycles where I've definitely half-assed some of my training and ended up failing lifts on the platform. Whether it was because I didn't give everything I had during training, I can never be sure, but that uncertainty is haunting. People say to leave it all on the platform. That's important, but your performance on meet day is just an accumulation of all the months leading up to it, so how can you leave it all on the platform if you didn't leave it all on every training day? I can be happy in failure when I know I really gave every day my all.
What advice do you have for young women getting into powerlifting?
I have more advice than I could fit into one interview so I'll stick with one of my favorites - you don't need to hit certain numbers or break records before you become a "legit powerlifter". I hear this all the time from people who are just getting into the sport, they don't think they're actually a powerlifter until they reach certain accomplishments or they won't enter a competition because they think their numbers aren't high enough. I tell all of my athletes, no matter what the skill level, you're a legit bish right now, not when you squat this or deadlift that, right now. You become what you tell yourself you are, if you tell yourself that you're a badass b****h, then that's what you'll become. 
What's next for Gina Aversa?
Hmm that's a good question! Powerlifting wise - my next meet is the US Open, right here in San Diego. It'll be my first meet in wraps and I'm going to be competing against some of the best powerlifters in history, so I'm beyond honored to have even been invited. Life wise - We'll see! A year ago I never would have thought I'd be where I am now or doing what I'm doing and that's partly because I stopped obsessing about planning out my whole life. I think when we plan too much, were not as open to new opportunities that arise because they might not fit our "perfect life plan". So for the moment, I'm just following my feet, they haven't led me astray yet!

1 comment

  • emachu

    The part about what advice you could give is literally THE EXACT thing I needed to read. I’ve been training and my numbers are not up there (at least I don’t think so) and so I feel like I can’t or shouldn’t compete until my numbers are higher. You’re pretty inspiring :-) Thank you for the words of advice, they mean a lot!


Leave a comment