What does being a Girl Gone Strong mean to you?
Being a Girl Gone Strong means breaking preconceived notions that women are meant to do only specific things and behave certain ways. I feel just as strong while slinking around in eight-inch stilettos on a stripper pole as I do ripping 303 pounds off the floor in a deadlift.
Doing scary stuff that pushes me outside of my comfort zone makes me a Girl Gone Strong.
How long have you been strength training, and how did you get started?
I started over 20 years ago. In my Junior Year in High School, circa 1995, I picked weight training with Mr. Cuzenza as an elective to get out of running for P.E. My best friend and I were the only girls in that class. I’ve been addicted ever since.
What does your typical workout look like?
While I love powerlifting, I had to ease up from continued low back injuries so I’m dabbling in many different forms of fitness currently. However, my tried and true would be a delicious blend of compounds done first with high volume (squat, bench or kettlebell deadlifts), followed by old school bodybuilding. I’m currently doing lower body three times per week.
A typical leg workout looks like this:
Right now it’s definitely squat since my low back injury still hangs out and threatens me if I even look at a barbell on the ground for deadlifting.
Most memorable PR:
Lifting 303 on a deadlift at our gym powerlifting meet.
Top 5 songs on your training playlist:
You may sense a trend:
Top 3 things you must have at the gym or in your gym bag:
Headphones, fanny pack (hands free living is the way to be) and the right shoes for whatever I'm doing.
Do you prefer to train alone or with others? Why?
I like training alone but with others nearby to boost my own mental energy (unless my boyfriend or best friend is training me). It’s my therapy and de-stress time. I also selfishly like that time for myself and find that when I train with others I always take the lead and sometimes just like being told what to do!
Most embarrassing gym moment:
Failing in the squat rack with almost 200 pounds on my back. I went dowwwwwn.
Most memorable compliment you’ve received lately:
A sweet woman at my pole dance studio left me a heartfelt comment on my Facebook page telling me that she’s inspired by my honest stories and looks to my page for motivation when she is struggling.
Most recent compliment you gave someone else:
I make a valiant effort to compliment as many women as I can in my studio. I think this is a lost art and find that a simple compliment can go a long way. Noticing a new hairstyle, new shoes, cute pants or a glow on someones face goes miles.
Favorite way to treat yourself:
Since I hit the weights hard I really love a deep tissue massage and I try to do this twice a month.
Thoughts are things, choose good ones. — Mike Dooley
Being of Power, by Baron Baptiste
What inspires and motivates you?
My clients at my studio Venus Pole Fitness and my children. Each and every one of them inspire and motivate me to be my best self so that I can be in a position of authentic influence.
What do you do?
I own a women’s movement studio, Venus Pole Fitness & Goddess Body Bootcamp in Modesto, CA. I don’t teach as much as I did nine years ago when I opened but I keep about four hours per week of classes that I teach. Most of my time now is spent at my laptop doing marketing, social media, designing programs, staff enrichment and creating workshops for the studio.
What else do you do?
I homeschool my 12-year-old son so that is my priority these days but other than that, weight training, yoga, CrossFit, mountain bike riding, salsa dancing and of course pole dancing & sensual movement.
Describe a typical day in your life:
6 a.m. — Wake for my ritual: coffee, read, journal, reflect and go over the days activities for myself and my son’s homeschool agenda.
8 a.m. — Do the most important thing on my own to-do list so if the other stuff doesn’t get done, I’m still winning.
9 a.m. — Homeschool in full effect until around 2 p.m. I generally multi-task while my son is working on his school work and this consists of computer work for the studio.
3-4 p.m. — I finish up loose ends with my work and plan out the next days activities and review my productivity.
4 p.m. — Go workout! One of my favorite, but sometimes hardest, parts of the day. I have a home gym which I affectionately call my Freddy Krueger gym because it’s filled with dust, some cobwebs here and there and my equipment is pretty rusty (I live on an almond orchard). I imagine if Freddy Krueger had to get swole it would probably be in a garage that looks like mine.
Your next training goal:
Currently working mainly on aesthetics, bodybuilding and hypertrophy, but also doing CrossFit once a week to bring back the Olympic lifts because I love mastering something I suck at. Other than that, I am likely doing another Spartan Race this Spring.
For what are you most grateful?
I am grateful for all of the lessons I’ve learned as a result of my failures and life situations.
Of what life accomplishment do you feel most proud?
Which three words best describe you?
Resilient. Brave. Inspire action.
Tell us about a time when you overcame fear or self-doubt.
Getting pregnant as a teen in high school, being on welfare, Medi-Cal, WIC, housing assistance and food stamps came with tons of self-doubt and fear. I knew I wanted more for my children so I persevered. I’m constantly learning, growing and investing in myself to be a better person for them and for my community at Venus. Overcoming self-doubt also lead me to take leaps like competing in figure, bikini and powerlifting competitions.
How has lifting weights changed your life?
When my life's feeling out of whack, or I’m going through some mental or emotional crud, I know that after I can get under a barbell and lift some heavy weights, I can handle pretty much anything. Weight training has literally saved me from the dark hole that I can get sucked into with my depression and anxiety. I’ve been off antidepressants for almost 12 years and I attribute it to exercise.
What’s the coolest “side effect” you’ve experienced from strength training?
Aside from the fact that it affords me the ability to do some pretty sick ass pole dance tricks that require a ton of upper body strength, I love the muscle it builds. I love feeling strong in my body and seeing that all of the hard work I put into the gym is shown by my muscly curves. The consistency of weight training when I competed in bodybuilding showed me how incredibly amazing the human body is and how we can create our own masterpiece.
What do you want to say to other women who might be nervous or hesitant about strength training?
Please, please, please do it. Unlike what we’ve believed for way too long, lifting weights will not make you look bulky. The benefits are far too great to ignore strength training. I obviously love the way that it makes me look, but ultimately the way that I feel is why I keep doing it.
You will not regret strength training.
The biggest obstacles we usually have to overcome are the ones in our head. Hire a personal trainer, enlist a buddy or search for a workout partner. Just get in the weight room and do it.
I’ll never forget the first time I stepped foot into a weight room at a gym. I was the only woman in the room. Nervous, sweaty and scared are totally normal feelings and, as much as I wanted to turn and go the other way, I didn’t. I put my headphones on, my CD in my discman (yes, I’m that old) and I just did it.
Who cares what other people think? Yes, they may stare but at the end of the day why does that matter? Like the old adage goes “you have to do things you’ve never done to achieve things you’ve never had.”
One day when you are lying on your deathbed you are not going to think “I’m so glad I let the opinions of other people stop me from living my most badass life” are you? Now go lift some heavy things, girl (safely, OK!?)
If these sound familiar to you, you are not alone.
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