By Nisa Salazar
Photo courtesy of Nisa Salazar
When I tell people I’m a powerlifter, they’re usually shocked. I get responses like, “You are going to hurt yourself,” or “Girls aren’t supposed to do that.” The worst one is, “You’re going to get really buffed and nasty like guys.”
Rarely do I get a positive response, until I mention that I’m a two-time national powerlifting champion. That’s when their demeanor changes.
I’ve always been small, and not very heavy. When I got to high school I didn’t know what sport to play. Either you’ve been playing a sport since you were young or joined one in middle school. I did neither.
Because I wasn’t in a sport, I had Physical Education (PE). My PE teacher was a big white guy with a long white beard named Mr. Haflich. The first thing he asked me was what I was good at. I thought about it, but I couldn’t answer his question.
When he mentioned that he was a weight training coach it grabbed my attention, though it was an elective class only open to juniors and seniors. I guess Mr. Haflich saw something in me, because he started showing me how to lift.
I started training everyday. Usually girls don’t lift so I wanted to challenge myself.
One of the first lifts I learned was the squat. It was difficult learning the technique because to do it properly you have to place your feet and your toes a certain way. Later, I was introduced to the bench press, which was way more difficult than the squat. I also learned to dead lift, which is harder than it looks. You have to perfect your technique for dead lifting or you risk serious injury.
Mr. Haflich then asked me to join our school’s lifting club, ‘No Limit Lifting.’ I became the first and only female member. It was intimidating. But the guys on the team weren’t rude like I thought they would be. They were actually very welcoming and told me that they were glad a girl actually wanted to lift.
Still, I wondered why I was the only girl lifting. Do girls not lift weights? Is lifting just for men?
Women can be both feminine and strong. Take Caitlyn Trout, a world record powerlifter and a pro raw powerlifter. At 5’1 and 123 pounds, she lifts three times her body weight.
It is important that women play a role in powerlifting. It should not be a male dominated sport. I know I have to be a role model for other women who want to but might be too intimidated to enter the sport.
Lifting has changed my life. My physique has changed a lot, and I feel healthier. Lifting gives me something to look forward to when I am stressed about homework or family issues. And it has helped me gain confidence. I am able now to focus on myself and believe I can do things I couldn’t ever imagine doing.
Nisa is a 17-year-old high school student and Youth Reporter. She likes to write about youth, relationships, and the environment. Passionate about helping others, she takes care of her sisters and loves animals. She hopes to pursue her higher education and achieve her dream of receiving a Master’s Degree in Psychology.