Advice from Aimee Anaya Everett for new women Olympic weightlifters
1. Lift with other girls. Lifting with men is motivating; however, they just don’t understand certain things. Such as why we act crazy in the gym. Only girls can understand why you have to turn up Fergalicious or Beat It on Pandora to pump you up and/or have you break out in your PR dance. I think other girls, especially those who you have built a strong friendship with and have a sense of loyalty to, will keep you motivated even on the worst of days, and be smiling and cheering with you on the best of days. It’s like a secret club, but better.
2. Know that you will cry. Weightlifting digs down in to the deepest parts of your soul, and digs up some fierce emotions. You will cry because you made a lift you have been working so hard for; you will cry when you miss a lift. You will cry when your coach yells at you, and you will cry because your BFF training partner just had a break through. You will cry because you want to quit, and you will cry because you don’t. You will cry because you’re afraid. These crying episodes do not make you a cry-baby-titty-mouse; they make you passionate about what you care about: the barbell and being on the platform.
3. Your cute skinny jeans aren’t going to fit anymore. Your body is going to change. You are going to build muscles, develop traps and back muscles. Your legs are going to get big. This doesn’t mean you can’t be sexy and feminine. There is a big misconception that lifting will make girls manly. I don’t agree—many of our top weightlifters in this country are beautiful and sexy! You just have to know that you’re going to have to give up the Kate Moss look and recognize your ass is going to be like JLo’s and your quads are not going to squeeze into skinny jeans anymore. You’re going to start living in your Lulus and want to wear jeans less and less. You see, you’re going to have to move from a size 27 to a size 31, simply so your ass and legs can fit. Then you are going to have 4 extra inches of waist just hanging out all loose and poking out above your butt because your waist will likely still be pre-lifting small. You will have to wear long shirts; otherwise when you sit down everyone will see your butt crack as the jeans ride half way down your ass. This will happen. Just accept it now. But despite your problems with finding jeans, you can still wear high heels and dresses and look hot. You will have a nice ass and quads and a sexy back—flaunt that shit!
4. You will more than likely pee a little when you squat or clean heavy. Nearly every girl I have ever trained with has had a training session or competition where they have peed themselves a little during heavy cleans or heavy squats. It will happen eventually; don’t be embarrassed. You will likely squeeze out a fart at sometime. Hey! This stuff happens when you are squeezing and pushing. It happens to all of us.
5. You need to learn patience. Snatching and Clean & Jerking can be frustrating, painful, scary, rewarding, hard, easy, tiring, and exciting. If you go into weightlifting thinking you are going to be a world champion in 6 months, I hate to burst your bubble… I believe that for anyone, man or woman, weightlifting can be frustrating, particularly when you hit a wall. However, women seem to be more emotional than men, and because of that our emotions pour through our sport. You have to learn to be patient and not get frustrated every time something goes wrong. This is easier said than done, believe me, I know! But really try to go into the gym every day and set little daily goals for yourself. Remember the good things that happen in the gym, and hang in on those on days you are feeling broken. Always remember that setting yourself up with good technique and patience will get you a long way… don’t just stack the weight on and lift it with shitty form. Trust that all the time you spend working your technique, movement, and body awareness, will totally pay off.
6. Have a life and interest outside the gym. Whether it be cooking or baking, shopping, hanging out with friends, reading, serial dating, being a cat lady or watching Keeping up with the Kardashians, try to have interests outside the gym. This will help you stay sane. If your life is 100% weightlifting all the time, you will never stop thinking about your bad snatch practice or the fact that your jerk sucks right now. You have to have some time outside the gym so you can regroup and not dwell on your frustrations.
7. Shorts and tights. If you wear booty shorts to the gym, which I agree are uber comfortable, make sure there is not a boy sitting directly behind you (unless he is your husband or boyfriend) because as soon as you bend over to grab the bar to snatch or clean or pull, you are going to give them a show. The same goes for thin tights.
8. Nails. If you go get a manicure, know that once you chalk up your hands a couple times, snatch 5 sets of triples, and do some jerks, your manicure is going to be chipped and you are going to be pissed. If you go get a manicure, use Shellac or gel. It’s typically $5-$10 extra, but your nails will look freshly painted for 2 weeks, and they won’t chip or peel.
9. Knee sleeves. If you wear knee sleeves, they are going to stink badly. You will start to have stinky knees after training. My advice is to not put them in your gym bag straight away, and instead let them air out. I have 2 large mason jars that I put the knee sleeves over so that they dry without re-absorbing the sweat and stink. You can also put them in your trunk to let them dry outside your gym bag so they don’t taint all your other belongings. I also keep baby wipes handy to wipe off my knees after training so you don’t walk around with fresh knee sleeve stink.
10. Have fun. Have fun in the gym. Have fun feeling strong. Weightlifting will make you strong mentally and physically, and it will make you feel empowered. In the gym, or through the sport, you will meet some of the greatest people. My bestest friends in this world—girls who have become my sisters—and my family—who I will never give up in my life—I have met in the gym. That, along with all the snatches and clean & jerks I have done fabuolously, makes it all worth it.
When I asked some of my training partners and weightlifting friends what one piece of advice they would give to new women weightlifters, here is what I got:
Alyssa Sulay: Patience
Chyna Cho: Don’t be in a big rush to put up big numbers in your snatch and C&J. Take some time to get strong in your squats and pulls and REALLY focus on your technique. I think that’s what is going to benefit you in the long run.
Jessica Salvaggio: It doesn’t make you look manly.
Natalie Burgener: Be patient and don’t get too frustrated.
Carissa Gump: Olympic Weightlifting is challenge mentally and physically. If you’re up for the challenge, then this sports for you.
Tamara Holmes: Get back in to the kitchen where you belong! Also be patient and accept the changes to your body that strength brings.
Kara Doherty: Make sure your pants and singlet are not see-through.
Jolie Gentry: Find a good coach who can teach you the proper technique before trying to go heavy.
Sage Mertz (Burgener): Learn to use your fear to your advantage cause if you don’t, it’ll be the one thing that stops you from being the best weightlifter you can be.
Heather Zahner (Snethen): Don’t get discouraged if you aren’t lifting the most weight right away or are having trouble with the technique. Be patient. Getting the proper technique down is crucial to a successful weightlifting career. Oh and you must always listen to Britney and wear makeup and pink!
Audra Dunning: Don’t be (or try not to get) frustrated, and trust your coach! (i.e. don’t be a diaper baby and do what you’re told.