Introduce yourself to the GWPL Community
Weight class: 63kg to 72kg
Year in sport: 3 years
How did you find powerlifting?
I was first introduced to general strength training in University as a way to supplement my skills and development in basketball. Shortly after I was taught how to perform the big three lifts effectively, I realized my developing passion for the sport of powerlifting. During that time I was also provided a lot of guidance from my professors and my peers and to this day believe that my technique has a piece of advice from every person I had the privilege to train with and learn from. By the time I competed at my first meet in August 2015, I decided I would commit myself entirely to the sport and since then I have never looked back. I have competed at 10+ meets now and I don’t regret any of it.
What do you think attracted you so much to the sport? When did you fall in love with it?
One thing that really attracted me to the sport was the welcoming community. I have never felt so much support from a crowd before, it is truly a unique and amazing experience. I am also addicted to the next big PR! This sport taught me the importance of patience and how much hard work can really contribute to that next big number.
Can you share one of your most memorable powerlifting moment?
One of my most memorable powerlifting moments was my final deadlift attempt at CPU Nationals last year. It was a pull for gold, a pull for the national deadlift record, a pull for a comeback and it took me from 6th place to 1st instantaneously! I will always remember every second of it and I still get goosebumps just thinking about that moment. Moments like these are what keep me going and keep me motivated.
What motivates you in life? Not just as Christine the powerlifter, but Christine?
I would have to say, my boyfriend, Charles. There are days when I just don’t want to go to the gym at all but he is the push I need. I’m glad that he is also my training partner so he knows when things are off with my lifts. I still remember days when I would end up crying because of a training day that didn’t go as planned or when I was suffering through my injury; he was always there to help me get through it all. No matter how near or far, he also travels with me to all my meets to make sure that I always have his support. I’m thankful that I am blessed with someone like him in my life who constantly keeps me motivated every single day and not just in powerlifting but also through every other obstacle that life throws at me.
Has powerlifting impacted other areas of your life? If so, how?
Powerlifting has definitely impacted other areas in my life. I admit that I haven’t been this committed to anything in my life before and finding powerlifting really saved me. It has helped me live a healthier lifestyle and taught me to take better care of my body. Getting stronger is just an added bonus. It has also helped me become a better person who can stay committed to my work, my coaching and everything else I do outside of the gym. I find that I am more patient now and I appreciate my body more because of how much it allows me to do.
This past year you competed at IPF Worlds as a 63 lifter, following that you announced that you would compete the following meet as a 72kg lifter!
Can you first tell us about that experience at IPF Worlds?
IPF Worlds was my worst meet to date but it really helped me understand the importance of recovery and really listening to your body. Cutting weight and traveling was not an easy task. This caused me to cramp during the meet and also risked an injury to my spine again. This experience was eye opening and it made me realize that cutting weight is not worth it.
What lead to your decision to move up a weight class?
I have suffered two back injuries in the past and the pain only resurfaces when I cut weight. I had been cutting for every meet and I’ve never had a good experience because of it. I enjoyed competing as a 63kg lifter but I also know that my body is more comfortable sitting around 66kgs. I would rather not risk another injury from cutting weight and just focus on getting stronger in the 72kg weight class.
How has that been so far? Pros and Cons
The pros are the big PRs I’ve achieved so far! I hit my highest wilks of 480 at my first meet as a 72kg. I feel healthy and I haven’t had any issues with any of my lifts. Usually, during my prep for a bigger meet like Nationals, I start to feel really fatigued during my peak because I would be cutting at the same time. This time around, I am prepping while maintaining a caloric surplus (since I still sit relatively low in my weight class) so lifting heavier weights doesn’t tax me as much as it used to. I also feel that my recovery has significantly improved.
The con would be that I am one of the lightest lifers in my new weight class. So I find that my numbers might not be as competitive as it was when I competed as a 63kg lifter. I know that in time, I can develop really competitive numbers, but for now, I am just glad to be able to compete and still be competitive in a higher weight class.
You have also experienced injury in the sport and “the come back”, can you share with us a little about that experience?
I had a fracture in my spine a few years back and this really held me back from lifting. I was incapable of squatting or deadlifting and it was nearly impossible to bench with an arch. These issues made powerlifting very hard but my coach, Hani Jazayrli from The Strength Athlete, and I developed a game plan because of it. We worked on my weaknesses during this injury and it made me come back stronger than ever, not just as a lifter but overall as a stronger person. I ended up making a comeback by securing the National Championship title in the 63kg open division in Canada.
You seem to have a close “gym family.” Something we get asked about a lot is finding like-minded individuals! How did you find your gym? Do you think that environment has played a role in your development?
I found my gym family, Afterburn Barbell, through my boyfriend, Charles. He introduced me to like-minded individuals who had the same hunger to be better. Going into a sport where you perform as an individual seemed difficult for me at first, especially coming from a team-oriented sport. However, since joining Afterburn Barbell, shortly after moving to Toronto, I’ve never felt more at home with a group of friends that I can call my second family. We go to powerlifting meets together and there is no better sound than your team cheering you on during that last big deadlift. My handler from my last meet was Teresa Yeung, another strong female powerlifter from Afterburn Barbell. She helped me achieve my highest ever wilks and also helped me go 9/9. I’m really glad I have people like her from the team who I can truly depend on to be beside me during my biggest competitions. Our team will be traveling to Calgary, AB together in less than 4 weeks to compete at the next CPU Nationals where I know we will all do great things together.
What is one piece of advice you would give to a new lifter?
Be open-minded. One thing I learned is that ever since I kept myself open to constructive criticism and suggestions, I have grown so much more as a lifter. Once you start thinking you know everything is when you stop learning. Never stop learning.
What is next for Christine Castro?
I am looking forward to competing again at the next CPU Nationals where I will be sharing the platform with some of the strongest women in powerlifting. I am hoping to hit some big PRs but fail or succeed, I am ready to give it my all. It isn’t over until the final pull.
Click here to learn more about Christine