Everything in life is a choice. When you are faced with adversity, you can run and hide or meet it head-on.
As the 2020 school year loomed in front me last August, I didn’t feel prepared for the challenges that I knew lay ahead with teaching during this pandemic. Looking for some way to steel myself against the trials I was facing, I found inspiration in a woman doing pull-ups for the first time at Rehoboth Beach Barbell Club. Sign me up! This is just what I need, I thought. And so I began a journey to find strength with coach Will Harris. What I discovered along this path is that strength comes not only from the iron, but more importantly, from relationships and community.
After an initial assessment of my strength, Will carefully set up a weight training plan for me. At that point I couldn’t even do one pull-up, but I was determined to commit myself to this new regimen of strength training. I had no idea what I was doing or any of the terminology and techniques associated with weight lifting, but Will was patient and kind as I slowly began to pick it up.
Some days, especially in September, I would come in frazzled and exhausted from trying to master teaching kids in person and at home at the same time. Will would let me vent and then push me through our workout, encouraging and supporting me the whole time. I knew he cared about me as a client the same way I cared about my students. As a teacher, the most important aspect of my job is to build relationships. As an athlete, I knew I could trust Will as my coach to guide me along this new journey. He is expert and intuitive in all facets of coaching, and he truly cares about helping people reach their goals.
The strength I gained with Will grew into the community and support I felt from my fellow members at Rehoboth Beach Barbell Club. I’m pretty sure that at age 54, I am the oldest woman at the gym, but everyone makes me feel like the beloved little sister. This diverse and wonderful group of people I have met inspires and encourages me in so many ways.
Katy, a busy mother of two and business owner, motivated me to try powerlifting as I watched her train for an upcoming competition. Shelby’s pull-ups got me started. There’s Julie, who works as an ER doctor with crazy 12-hour days, and her husband Chris, who still shows up to train as he battles cancer. And Jeff, who doesn’t let his physical disability get in the way of training for his first competition. Everyone’s obstacles are different, and yet they make the time and the commitment to their health and well-being to show up and lift. On March 28, 10 of us (including our coach) will be competing in a powerlifting meet together, some of us for the first time ever.
I am grateful for this journey that has seen me through the toughest school year I have ever faced, and to Will and the members of my gym who are now my family. Everything in life is a choice. I choose the iron. I choose strength.