“I was so nervous for my first meet that it took 3 years before I was confident enough to compete.”
Many of you may know me as a powerlifting athlete from Juggernaut Training Systems. But instead of focusing on the present, I'd like to shed a little light on the journey that got me here.
I first fell in love with the sport in 2011, when I was still an undergrad at the University of Tampa working in the Human Performance Lab. But despite a close involvement with athletics from early on, it was still difficult for me to dive in myself. I was so nervous for my first meet that it took 3 years before I was confident enough to compete. When I finally took that step, it was January of 2014.
Of course, I’m not the only one who’s dealt with nerves, which is why I’ve decided to be vocal about my own personal experiences with strength training.
Our self-esteem often depends on how well we think our body compares to the "ideal" feminine physique our society expects us to achieve (1).
But, the unfortunate truth is that, as women, we often shy away from heavy lifting for fear of becoming too "masculine." We might go to the gym, but we'll stay away from weights and resistance exercises. Our hesitance comes from the desire to conform to the ideal image of femininity. Of course, it's an impossible task. We wind up chasing impossible expectations only to beat ourselves up for not meeting them. It's a vicious cycle that can feel impossible to escape.
And for years, that's where I was.
Set aside everything that the world says you're supposed to be. Just set it down for a moment. Doesn't it feel nice to get that weight off your back?
Now that the pressure's off, I want to talk about science for a minute.
I'm sure you've heard a million times that exercise is good for your mental health. It reduces stress, anxiety, sleeping problems, and if you can bench enough, money will just start falling into your hands right out of the sky. Right?
While strength training (more accurately referred to as resistance training) isn't an end-all-cure-all, the psychological benefits are very real. In fact, studies have found that resistance training can even yield the same results as pharmacological solutions.
Unfortunately, the number of adults in general engaging in resistance training is quite low. Among women, it's even lower. According to the American Medical Association, about 80% of adults and adolescents fail to meet physical activity guidelines (2). And of course they do! We have desk jobs. We have children. Exercise in the modern world, for a lot of people, is something you have to actively make time for.
That's why my goal is to give you a way to meet your daily physical activity needs without having to schedule your entire life around it.
I want to give you what powerlifting gave me: confidence, strength, and better health.
Kristen Dunsmore is a powerlifter and coach based out of San Diego, CA. Kristen is the 2018 USAPL National Champion in the 72kg class, as well as holding an advanced degree in Exercise Science. She has coached beginner level athletes all the way up to the national and international level.