When I come across someone who lights up my soul and reminds me of all the good there is in the world, epsecially in the powerlifting world, I tend to want to interview them! Meet LaTosha Cleaver.
How did you find powerlifting?
I Lost a child who was 3 years old to a rare brain tumor. Then I had two more. This, all by the age of 24, and just like that, I was a very young single mom. I was working hard to take care of two little ones. I was tired and had a broken spirit. Broken soul. Just existing, not living and had gotten severely out of shape. I was just trying to keep my head above water. Then I received a scholarship for me and my kids to join our local YMCA. I stumbled into the small gym there and met a trainer who was a powerlifter. I told him "I wanna do what you do!" he said I should join his team as he was looking for a girl (this was 2013 and not as many women in the sport). I told him I'm not strong (as I'm looking at my 5lb dumbbell). He said he could make me strong. The next week I started training with him, just me and 10 guys. I Deadlifted 185lbs the first time I ever picked up a barbell. Did my first meet 4 months later and lifted 314lbs and was hooked! I never looked back! I was 33 and now I’m 44! Almost 11 years in!
What’s the most challenging part of your life as a powerlifter and how do you combat it?
The two most challenging parts of my life as a powerlifter is trying to balance my training, my kids, and taking care of my aging parents while also working full time. Also, now that I’m in my mid 40’s, I often wonder if I would have been better or stronger if I’d started younger. I get imposter syndrome a lot. I combat it by really prioritizing my training and taking a step back to look at how far I’ve come, how many challenges in my life I’ve overcome, and most importantly, not comparing myself to other lifters. This is HUGE because we as lifters see other ladies on social media lifting all this weight and although I am a huge cheerleader for them, it can make us feel less than if we let it.
As a mom, what do you want your kids to know about you?
As a mom, I want my kids to know that I am a fighter not a quitter. I am a role model for them, and I want to reflect a positive image for them. Throughout my life I have faced so many challenges and overcome so many obstacles, but I never gave up. I worked hard to build a better life for them and myself. I want them to know that it’s ok to fail, as long as they pick themselves back up again and keep going. Keep reaching for their dreams and if it doesn’t work out, reach for a new one. There is more than one path to success.
What’s one thing you wish you could go back and tell yourself when you first started powerlifting?
One thing I would tell my baby powerlifter self is “girl calm down!” lol! I was so excited for my gainz that I would compete in 5-6 meets a year and it was destroying my body. I would tell myself to pick a couple of meets a year with plenty of time in between them to recover and train because powerlifting is a marathon, not a sprint. I would have worked harder on mobility and perfecting my form so that I could become a healthier, better lifter. I wish I had known then what I know now.
Why do you think it’s important for all women to find their strength?
It’s important for women to find their strength because society constantly tries to diminish it. They want to wrap us in a pretty little box and keep us there. We are breaking those glass ceilings that were placed on us for a very long time. We are breaking out of that box and letting the world know that we are not the weak, frail creatures that we have been made out to be for so many years. We can be strong AND feminine. We should not allow other people to define our femininity for us. It is whatever we want it to be. Don’t be afraid to go after that promotion, ask for a raise, counter a bigger salary for that job offer. We are stronger and more capable than we think, we just need to believe in ourselves! Believe that we deserve to be here! As GWP says, we need to #TakeUpSpace
Get to know more about LaTosha on Instagram