Written by Renee-Rose Garcia
In trying to figure out how to approach my first post as a TeamGWPL ambassador, I thought about all the experiences I've had in my short time competing as a powerlifter. When I first started out, I was training out of a commercial gym, not realizing how much more different the community of powerlifting was outside of the it! It wasn't until my first meet when I able to experience so many positive things about not only this sport, but most importantly the community.
Despite being such an individualized sport, you'll quickly learn how family oriented it is. The first time I was surrounded by other powerlifters was in November 2014 when I attended powerlifting event featuring Larry Wheels and Kevin Oak at Coliseum Gym in Queens, NY. Getting to hear their stories was truly awe-inspiring in itself, but the real fun came when the attendees were able to lift amongst other powerlifters also, namely Leanna Carr (my singing loving, Filipina powerlifting sistah)! It was a good day for many as everyone was really putting in the work and hitting amazing numbers, but what I noticed was how supportive everyone was to one another by cheering each other on, giving each other daps and whole-heartedly supporting one another. I'd been in a room with these people for a half an hour and here they are yelling at ME! Just a random person who just started powerlifting, go for a max deadlift - such a warm welcome as a complete powerlifting n00b! It was then when I became really fired up to take on this sport.
After one year of competing, I qualified for the XPC Finals at the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus (March 2016). In that cycle working with John Gaglione, I was able to hit a 465lb squat with bands and I was amped for the meet. What I failed to prepare and "peak" for, was my mental strength leading up to that first national meet. I'll admittedly be the first to say that my head was a bit inflated thinking that just because my strength was up, that mental would be too but boy was I WRONG and humbled quickly! I had my poorest performance that date totaling barely over 950, LESS than the qualifying total of 1040. To come back from that was tough, but more than ever, I realized that my mental strength would be tested much more than I'd realize. It taught me that in order to really make it in this sport having a strong mentality is just as if not more important than physical strength. It taught me a lot about mental imagery -- lifting the weight 1000x before in your head before physically lifting it, focusing on set up and really being mindful of pre-lift rituals and the small quirks that come with it. All those small things will lead you to become a bigger, better, and SMARTER lifter.
To be honest, those two were such prime lessons learned but what has really opened my eyes the most was learning that there are WOMAN, yes, girls...females... humans with the same XX chromosomes who too can be endearing, open-minded and truly supportive beings! I've mentioned this time and time again, but we come from a society where we've become such haters towards one another because of jealousy, spite, boredom and/or every other reason you can think of, that some of us become so stubborn in admitting our own wrongs and rights. Since becoming a powerlifter and immersing myself in this culture and lifestyle, I’ve been so lucky to have encountered so many women in person and on social media who are so willing to lend a helping hand whether it be at a meet, providing online depth checks, tips on certain equipment, etc., hitting me with a “YAAAAS GIRL!” (cause let’s be real, who doesn’t feel getting a good YAAAAAS!), or even the simplest of all things, completely bypassing that smug face that women are inclined to give and offering a smile in acknowledgment that we’re both bad asses who can lift heavy weights instead. To be transparent, there will be some bad apples who won’t be as approachable, but when you encounter 9 dimes and 1 penny, it’s easy to overlook that bad apple.
Having these experiences have allowed me to become more focused, open minded, and supportive, less judgmental, and overall a better powerlifter in and outside of the gym, but I too always hope that all my strong sistahs can relish in these seemingly simple experiences. Happy lifting and go kick some butt out there! Til next time!
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