I never saw myself becoming a competitive CrossFit athlete prior to signing up for my first competition a year ago. My friend, Katie Kecman, says the same thing about the powerlifting meets she’s been participating in for the past year. And yet, here we are, both of us having earned spots on the podium in our respective sports.
How does that happen? How do two people who are primarily into running and yoga become decorated CrossFit and powerlifting competitors?
In this post, I talked a little about my experience — how I got started and what it took to be competitive in the way that I enjoyed and found most fulfilling. I’m still competing and loving every minute of it, as is Katie.
So I asked Katie to share her story with me so I could see if there were any similarities in what drew us in — and what kept us coming back for more.
Katie had always been very active. Then, during the summer before her senior year in high school, she was involved in a terrible car accident involving injuries so traumatic that she was left temporarily in a wheelchair with casts and braces. It took five years of surgeries to repair her body — including a rebuilt ankle with eight screws and two plates, a plate and six screws in her forearm, and multiple arm surgeries involving bone grafts from her hip. Doctors warned that she may never run long distances again or play any sports with collision potential — crushing her dream of playing college field hockey.
But, as most headstrong women do, after her final surgery, she began to question those limitations. She was feeling the familiar tug of desire to be challenged and work toward a goal. Incredibly, it wasn’t long before she (cautiously) worked her way up in mileage to complete her first half marathon and found her own form of redemption, proving to herself that she could come back strong when she worked hard and smart.
However, Katie found herself questioning whether she wanted to continue putting her body through the amount of impact involved in the sport. She enjoyed event-specific training for the purpose and direction it gave her fitness. But she felt it was time for a new challenge — one that involved less impact.
As luck would have it, Katie’s twin brother, John, is a high-level competitive powerlifter and coach. With the help of her brother, Katie caught the bug and began training to compete in her first powerlifting meet. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Here’s why she continues to compete, in her own words:
“The decision to sign up for a powerlifting meet came from me liking goals to work towards, tracking my progress, and experiencing the exhilaration of accomplishment. Of course, I love the way it feels when I set a new personal record but I also enjoy the process of training, working hard towards a specific purpose, and seeing progression as my efforts and dedication pay off. I find that there’s so much more satisfaction in being in the gym when I’m following a program, hitting all of my lift weights to complete a program, and then hitting those numbers at a powerlifting meet.
Now, I always have a plan and purpose when I go into the gym, which makes me less inclined to let anything get in the way of my training. I’m more mindful of my self-care so that I can do the work necessary for my personal fulfillment. My body may not have changed since I started competitively lifting but I feel undeniably stronger and sexier than I have ever felt in my life. I also feel more capable and resilient emotionally, mentally, and physically than ever before. It’s amazing to see how adaptable and capable your body is when you are motivated, driven, dedicated, and consistent.
Powerlifting has dramatically improved my self-esteem and self-image. Powerlifters come in all shapes and sizes so you don’t need to fit a certain mold to compete. And even though my clothes don’t fit any differently now, I view myself very differently — I feel like a freaking badass, a total rockstar. Powerlifting has shown me that there are no limits for me. I would wholeheartedly encourage anyone looking for a fitness goal to try it out.”
Although our sports are different, I could not agree more with Katie’s words. Whatever your chosen sport, there’s something truly magical about the process of training to compete. There’s tremendous power in doing things we never thought we could — and in making peace with our bodies enough to let them do the impossible and make us proud.
Have you ever considered training for a CrossFit or powerlifting competition? If so, what’s stopping you? —Alison