GGS Spotlight: Meredith Hanby


Name: Meredith Robinson Hanby
Age: 36
Location: Windham, ME

What does being a Girl Gone Strong mean to you?
I define my strength in two ways ― the weight I can move and my refusal to give in to life’s obstacles. I can squat, deadlift and bench admirable weights, but I do so with a fractured spine.

Eighteen years ago, I fractured my spine at L5, S1 thanks to a reckless driver. Those fractures never healed properly and my days are marked with varying levels of pain and physical restrictions. Numerous doctors told me to stop lifting because it was exacerbating my pain levels. For a spell, I did as they said but I actually felt worse. So I got back to it and with extraordinary focus on form and proper movement I can perform.

I can’t take my body for granted and I refuse to let my chronic pain define my physical abilities. And with that, I am determined to be forever strong.

How long have you been training?
I started lifting weights when I was 16, but it wasn’t until I met my husband that I started training heavy. I had just finished squatting the bar for sets of 10 and he looked at me and said “add some weight.” And I did, and I was hooked! I remember hitting those initial PR’s ― squatting two plates, benching my bodyweight, doing my first real pull-up. Those moments stay forever and still motivate me today.

Favorite lift:
The deadlift.

Most memorable PR:
Hmmm, I have two — my pull-up PR and my deadlift PR — but I’ll stick with my pull-ups because that PR made a statement. A few years ago, another female teacher told some of my freshman girls that “girls can’t do pull-ups.” I was flabbergasted, but rather than fuming, I took action and I made it my goal to hit 10. It took some work, but I hit that mark and got it on film and I showed all my students the video… not to brag but to show them that girls can do pull-ups!

Top 5 songs on your training playlist:

  • Livin’ on a Prayer by Bon Jovi
  • Eye of the Tiger by Survivor
  • Leave Out All the Rest by Linkin Park
  • Standing Outside the Fire by Garth Brooks
  • Army of One by Bon Jovi

Top 3 things you must have with you at the gym/in your gym bag:

  • Gum
  • iPod
  • My tattered gray hoodie (as seen in both videos!)

Most hilarious pick-up line you’ve heard at the gym:
Well, this guy never had the opportunity to drop any lines. He occupied the bench next to me holding 25-pound  dumbbells ready to incline press… until he realized I was pressing the 40s. He re-racked the weights and left the club. Oh well...

Favorite post workout meal:
Bananas, steak, white rice, and Brussel sprouts.

Favorite way to treat yourself:

Favorite quote:
It ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward; how much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done! — Rocky Balboa

Favorite book:
I have too many to list, but since I resigned from teaching and started my next adventure as a gym owner and strength coach I live by this question posed in Who Moved My Cheese?  “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” This question is powerful and one that I ask myself daily in order to keep moving forward.

It took a lot of courage to quit my teaching job and venture into the world of small business. I refuse to let fear paralyze me.

What inspires and motivates you?
Me. I know that sounds really cocky but I have to motivate myself if I truly want to succeed — be it in the weight room, as a gym owner or as a coach. If I don’t believe in myself, then who will?

What does a typical day look like for you?
I wake up and teach my early bird group fitness classes, then I hit my training session with my sister (Yea!) and then I run my gym, train clients and enjoy the fact that I am living my dream — owning a gym and helping support people in their goals to be fit.

What’s the coolest “side effect” you’ve noticed from lifting heavy?
Though it gets expensive to keep replacing my t-shirts and dress shirts, I DO think it’s cool that I occasionally rip my shirts along the arm seams! My students used to call it my “Hulk Moments.”

Next training goal:
I really want to pull 315 off the floor!

If you had to choose 3 words to describe yourself, what would they be?
Persistent, Passionate, Resilient.

What do you want to say to other women who might be nervous to start lifting heavy?
Ladies, what will you do when you are not afraid?

Do you struggle with body image? Have you ever…

  • Felt anxious about clothes shopping or wearing certain clothes?
  • Dreaded going to an event (like a reunion or a wedding) — or even skipped the event altogether — because you felt too self-conscious about how you looked?
  • Found yourself not wanting to be in pictures or videos, or hiding behind other people in the picture to shield your body?
  • Scrolled through social media and felt worse and worse as you went?

If these sound familiar to you, you are not alone.

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About the author:  GGS

GGS is an organization dedicated to empowering women. We do this by creating world-leading resources, and educational materials that help women, and health & fitness professionals who work with women, take their skills and knowledge to the next level.

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