Lifting With The Big Boys

I recently gave Coach a list of moments that keep me going. These are the smallest things that wouldn’t even register on his “special moment” radar but for me, these moments make my struggles worthwhile. Today I get to add to that list.

The Thanksgiving lifting with the boys session never happened – it was just Coach and me. Admittedly, it didn’t break my heart at the time as I had enough to worry about with the thought of being the outsider of my family. Being the “outsider, old lady” doing what I love was pressure I didn’t need. But ever since Thanksgiving I have wondered what it would have been like…

Today, unexpectedly, Coach’s younger brother was lacing up his shoes as I walked in the door.

I think it went faster with three of us. Coach up first, then Junior, then myself. I learned so much watching someone new, whose errors I could pick out (Coach being so massive it can be hard to pick out minor shifts in muscle tension). Junior brought a new level of encouragement to my lifts. I am not used to someone shouting “c’mon, c’mon, one more!” and I swear I could have added 10 lbs to deadlifts with that. I did add 10 actually, should have added 20. When it is just Coach and I, it is all about adjustments and how to improve. I am thriving with the new communication Coach and I have developed but I kind of enjoyed the added voice.

For front squats we set up Junior’s weight but then Coach went. After the set, when he realized it was too light, Coach responds “Shit – Warrior Girl is going to make me do extra at the end to make up for it” (true) and Junior replies “She’s just making you better.” Yeah, Junior can hang. I have worried, even before we were training partners, that the extra time he spent with me interfered with his workouts. How many times have I said “I don’t want to be in the way of your goals”? Turns out, I’m just making him better.

I have never seen Coach need a spot on squats and by the last set, which he increased enough that extra reps weren’t necessary, Junior is ready and waiting. I immediately know this is an important moment for me, for the dynamic that exist between Coach and me: I have never seen Coach fail while giving 100%. He has told me this happens but I have never seen it. I have seen his head leave the game, I have seen him fail, but I have never seen this. In the end he didn’t fail but I saw him more…like me. Human. Doing everything right, being fully present, and struggling anyway.

With Coach puking after squats and my hip hurting, Junior looks at me and asks “what’s left?” Ha! We are supposed to have lunges, box jumps (Junior has step ups), sumo squats. My answer “I’m pretty sure we are out” so Junior does his lunges and I notice the issues though I still let Coach do the coaching. And then, as we are just wasting time now, he demonstrates rows and bench while Coach asks about what I notice and how would I cue someone. Coach helped me pick apart Junior’s form, shows me how a give in one spot indicates a form issue in another. Poor Junior, having to hold certain positions as we dissected his lift. I cannot begin to tell you how much I learned in these 30 minutes. Junior is on college break and if I am very lucky I can only hope we have a chance to do this again. Junior is almost as good of a guy as Coach is. While I am usually afraid of answering Coach, Junior’s presence makes me comfortable enough to ask, answer, and learn from Coach. This opportunity was invaluable to me.

And I didn’t feel like an outsider. In fact, I left today feeling more of a belonging, a connection, than I have ever had anywhere in my life. I don’t even think Coach knows the gift he has given me today. And best of all, I can hang with the big boys.

Level up Warrior Girl!


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Lifting is my love. I think it is safe to say it is the only thing I have ever loved in this life. After 20 years of battling anorexia, this Warrior Girl started winning that battle the first time I touched a barbell. Loving something is a powerful thing.

5 thoughts on “Lifting With The Big Boys”

    1. It was serious work at the time but I am still smiling – so much fun reviewing the day and I just can’t believe I have come so far to be able to hang with the big boys…leaderboard, regionals none could compare to this accomplishment!

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