2015 SPF Cincinnati Women’s Pro/AM Recap

20150411_195412The 2015 SPF Cincinnati Women’s Pro/Am was the most amazing event of my lifting career thus far. This event is remarkable! The energy. The people. The support. There’s nothing like it. From the warm up room to the platform, every lady was invested in each other’s success. For me, this was the first meet that didn’t feel like a competition; it felt like a celebration of powerlifting and the profound impact it is having in the lives of women finding strength, both under the barbell and within themselves. It’s truly indescribable and something everyone should experience. I mean, where else can you share the platform with the meet director of your first powerlifting meet ever; be encouraged, advised and coached by those you admire; play with your best friends and make so many new friends along the way? While there were still meet nerves and anxiety and goals to crush your lifts, this meet was about a sisterhood and a high-quality community whose members all just so happen to share a passion to be beasts under the barbell. Laura Phelps Sweatt has built something very special here and I am honored to have been a part of it this year.

This was my first multi ply powerlifting meet, ever. Going in my only expectation was to get a total and get a total I did: 515/175/425 = 1,115lb total.

My best squat was 515lbs, something I had hit in training several times and still missed when I first took the platform. I ended up getting it on my second attempt and then missed my third. They say anything can happen on meet day and they’re right!

Most excitedly, I FINALLY made the 400lb deadlift club with a 425lb deadlift! Squeeeee! This is a milestone that I have been chasing for over a year and I am so freaking excited to have blown past it the way I did. I don’t know what happened, but when we got to deadlift there was a new energy within me and everything felt light as a feather. Hard work pays off… don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. (This also makes me the first girl to squat 400-plus and 500-plus pounds and deadlift 400-plus pounds at Austin Simply Fit! With so many strong ladies, I am very proud of this.)

The bench, though… always my trouble spot. I had hoped to get at least one of my shirted bench attempts, which I did not. Thank goodness for that token (175lb, so easy) opener or I would have bombed the meet and this is not a platform where you want to bomb (well, you don’t ever want to bomb on any platform, but I especially didn’t want to bomb on this platform). I am so proud of myself for pushing my ego aside and taking a raw token opener which helped get me to my first 4 digit total ever, 175lbs more than my best raw total. Next time I take the platform all suited up I will make it a point to set reasonable goals to achieve under the bar and I’ll have better conditioning, cause wow…that’s certainly an area of needed improvement.

Putting on gear has been the best thing I have done as an athlete. It has taught me to get uncomfortable and how to enjoy the pressure and exposed weaknesses I didn’t know I had. I have handled weights greater than I ever thought I would and learned more about what I am made of than I could have learned without the squat suit. It has helped me discover things I want and don’t want in my life away from the gym. Thank you to the ASF team for pushing me over the edge, providing me with the resources, gear, community and coaching to make this dream a reality. I’d be remiss to not mention my previous team – Jersey Iron Powerlifting. Those guys stood by me 1,500 miles away through this new adventure. My growth in this sport is also due to the time spent with them.

Screenshot_2015-06-15-10-36-03This meet was not about awards (I finished 12th overall in the equipped division); it was about the experience of lifting with the best-of-the-best and doing something outside of my comfort zone to become a better athlete and person. I do have a few favorite moments from the meet, including: working with Rheta West in the warm up room and hearing her coach me from the sidelines, my 425lb deadlift, and coming off the platform to be scooped up by my teammates to celebrate these successes together! Ok, I’ll concede, being recognized by Rheta as one of two standout equipped lifters at the event is also pretty freaking cool!

Also, Lance Olian: Lance deserves the credit and respect for how he handled Bonnie (another ASF SAF lady who competed at the Pro/Am) and myself at this meet. He was the perfect balance of hard headed motivator and caring teammate to keep us energized and engaged. He was laser focused on our success and making sure we achieved our goals. His effort and work that day is what elevated us to be so great. No one does this shit alone and everyone needs a rock on meet day. Thank you Lance for being that rock. He’s so humble he’s probably tired of – and maybe a little irritated at me for singing his praises, but he deserves the recognition.

Now that I am back home in Austin I’m taking a short break (’cause for some reason I don’t feel like I was hit by a truck) to recover and then plan to hit training hard, taking everything I learned this weekend and using those lessons to become a better athlete and person. I’ll be switching training crews at ASF (sad face, but life) and working with Jeremey Schraw going forward. I am very excited about this because Jeremy himself is a great lifter but he is also a scientist – and his approach is scientific with clear cut, definitive answers to your questions. I have so much more to learn and can’t wait to keep going down this road with him.

I’ll also be competing in more meets in 2015. To prepare for these shows, I’ll be working with Ryan Robertson on strongman event training and chatting with many of my strong [wo]man friends to get my skills and conditioning up to par. I also plan to compete in one more raw meet this summer to earn that 4-digit raw total. I know it’s in me, and now I’m looking for a platform to showcase it. I also hope this will be the meet where I become the first girl in our gym to hit a 200+ bench on the platform for a solid trifecta!

I’m more motivated and energized than I have been in a long time and I cannot wait to see where my strength career goes from here. None of this would be possible without the Austin Simply Fit team and community. I’m proud to be part of this group as we help each other rise to our greatness together.

11146223_10103160095081003_7453410412471722496_nWritten by: Dana “Sweet Dee” Rygwelski