In 2013, I joined my first ever gym in Marrickville, ‘Lifestyle Fitness’ as I recall. About a month ago, I was driving through my old stomping ground and discovered that this gym no longer existed. To be honest about it, I was a bit taken aback. How could the place that appealed to unhappy, unhealthy and (retrospectively) lazy Hollie, be gone?
When I joined this gym I needed to change, I was at a point in my life where I was riddled by insecurities brought on by my own bad habits and poor health choices. When I saw the $250 annual membership fee, this beacon of fluro paper signs plastered across the window, I couldn’t pass up the investment of a life time.
Because that’s what it was. To me, this gym is the symbol of my transformation, the start of my new life. It may not resonate with me as being the ‘best’ gym I have ever been to (Southern Highlands Strength and Conditioning represent), it may not even be where I consider myself to have succeeded in leaps and bounds. But it was where I started. It’s where I was a cardio bunny. It’s where I lost a lot of weight. Learned to love the process. Where I gave the weight machines ago. Even ventured to the free weights (nothing too crazy – just going through instagram circuits and some poster workouts from Oxygen Magazine).
It allowed me to reflect, not just on where I started, but where I was going.
Hollie in 2013 would never have thought it was in the direction of Powerlifting.
1- because she had never heard of it.
2- because she didn’t have the confidence to do a solo sport.
It wasn’t until April last year that my ‘bodybuilding’ style training regime came to an abrupt halt. Why April, you must be asking. Well, last year I had the wild thought that I could take up netball after an 8 year hiatus. Believe it or not, I wasn’t spot on with this judgement. I won’t lie though, it felt amazing to be back on the court. I was quick, explosive and I was playing really well. So, when it was all over for me at just round five, I was pretty devastated. I can’t pinpoint the exact moment it happened, just the pain I felt in my knee moments before the final quarter. I shouldn’t have gone back on the court – but I did.
I could barely walk for the next week.
After weeks of doctor appointments, x-rays, ultrasounds, MRI’s, massages and physiotherapy I had a somewhat inconclusive diagnosis. A minor hamstring tear, bruised fascia and an overcompensating abductor.
All fixable, but needless to say, my amateur netball career was over.
I wasn’t allowed to go to the gym for a month. This was the longest break I’ve had since 2013. So, after enduring this rest (and developing a very grumpy temperament I might add), I needed to get back.
Thankfully, my boyfriend/owner of SHSC allowed me back in the doors. After we identified the large number of exercises I still couldn’t do, we eventually put together some rehab programs. Even though I was very restricted, it was amazing to be able to do something again.
I cycled through several of these programs until September, where, low and behold – I could squat!
I’m going to take a moment here to tell you a little more about me. Although I let myself go in my later teenage years (cheers HSC), I grew up leading a very sport orientated lifestyle. Every summer and winter I would be involved with some kind of team sport. I had a very competitive spirit and my re connection with netball brought all these memories flooding back to me. So, when all of this was taken away so suddenly.. I still had this niggling need to be a part of something.
Anyway, back to what I was saying.
I can squat again.
I can bench.
I can deadlift.
It was like the stars aligned one day and I remember thinking, ‘well shit! why not?’.
It was definitely not the ‘team’ sport I was accustomed too. It was a big learning experience, and for months it was all about developing technique and getting all my questions out of the way.
“How do I bend my back like that?”
“What the hell is a low bar squat?”
“Why does chalk get everywhere?”
“How do you stay balanced in sumo?”
“Why is there chalk in my eye?”
“Why do my wrists hurt?”
“Why do I need to do this?”
“Why is chalk everywhere? ALL. THE. TIME?”
I clearly had issues with the chalk.
Questions aside, I knew I had my work cut out for me. It’s not like I had never weight trained before – but it had always been for aesthetics.
Four months of training later and I found myself in an SBD soft suit, wondering whether I was going to vomit or shit myself (neither happened btw). I’d never really experienced people ‘watching’ me performs these lifts, it was very daunting. I was terrified up until the final call of my last deadlift. But, I did it! I went 8/9 and somehow managed to bring home a medal.
On the drive home from the competition, I couldn’t help but feel like I was meant to do this. Not to be the best. Not to break records. Not to be instafamous. But to be the healthiest version of myself – both mentally and physically. Because, even in the shortest of time spans that I’ve been a part of this – I don’t think I’ve ever felt better about myself. There is something empowering about lifting heavy weights. Maybe its the sound of the iron when it hits to ground. Or the bar when its put back on the racks. Maybe its the smell of the chalk. I don’t know yet. Hollie 3 years ago could never have done this. But Hollie, in 2017, could. I can’t wait to see how far this Hollie can go.
When I’m on that platform next, the goals are fairly simple. I want to be bigger, stronger and more technically sound than before. I want to go out there with the soul intention of bettering myself.
So this is how I landed myself in Powerlifting. A road of winding experiences and injuries but it took me to this one part of my life.
Bring it on, I say.