(Photo by 9for9Media)

Written by Sarah Brenner

To say that my job is challenging is an understatement. I work as a Speech-Language Pathologist at a residential school for students with Intellectual Disabilities and severe behaviors.

My students are at my school because they have behaviors that interfere with their safety and the safety of others. Any day, I can expect to be yelled at, hit, bit, hair pulled, kicked, have things thrown at me, you name it. Additionally, I am expected to assist in physical intervention when necessary. This means that I may be physically escorting a child, or physically restraining a child to ensure safety for everybody. Now don’t get me wrong, I love my job. It is so rewarding to help somebody who is non-verbal learn to express themselves, and the hope is that if these children can learn to express their wants and needs better, they will engage in fewer behaviors. Being the person to teach them those skills is really really cool.

How does my job affect powerlifting? Well, my job is not optional, and my job duties are not optional, so I always put my job first. To be completely honest, my job is incredibly draining at times. I go home exhausted. If I was punched in the ear at work, I most likely would rather nurse my wound than go to the gym and pick up 400+ pounds. Sometimes, when I have difficult days, I am amped to get to the gym and work out my frustration. Other times, I would rather snuggle my puppy on the couch with a bottle of wine. Sometimes, like today, I ran around searching for a student who tried to run away for 30 minutes in the 100-degree heat. We all know powerlifters don’t do cardio. I am exhausted and do not want to do volume squats tonight. Sometimes, if I have been in a physical restraint that day, my body is sore and tired and I can’t even think about doing anything but resting when I get home.

I train 4 days a week. This means that I have some wiggle room in my program. The way I see it, I have 4/7 days to get to the gym, and as long as I get my 4 days in, it really doesn’t matter what days those are. If I was planning on squatting on Tuesday but had to assist with physical intervention on Tuesday, I push my squats back to Wednesday.

I feel like, while many of you may not have the exact same struggles as me, you can relate on some level. Maybe your boss yelled at you or you got into it with a co-worker. Maybe you work in construction or paving and spent 8 hours in the heat. Maybe you’re a nurse, and you’ve been on your feet for 16 hours straight and worked through the night. Maybe you work in retail and a customer was rude to you. Some days, you may use your occupational frustrations as fuel in the gym. Others, you may want to curl into a ball and ignore the world for a few hours. Both are okay, so long as that self-pity party only lasts a short while.

Powerlifting is a hobby. It definitely does not pay my bills. I am a powerlifter because I enjoy it. The second I start saying “I have to train” instead of “I get to train,” it becomes way less fun. It’s all about balance. I try to make sure that I don’t skip two planned training days in a row, and make sure that I do my best to hit all of my training days within a week and there is nothing wrong with that.

Get to know Sarah and the other GWPL Ambassadors better. 


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