When people asked me if I was ready for my first meet - I told them yes. And I honestly believed I was!

'My First IPF Powerlifting Meet' by Coach Jess 

My body was moving well, my prep had no training complications, I’d made weight and I wasn’t nervous at all. But NOTHING could have prepared me for the influx of nerves, adrenaline, appreciation and pure happiness that I experienced on the 27th of August.

For those who aren’t familiar with powerlifting. Here is the run-down of meet day. You weigh in, warm up, get 3 attempts at a squat, then bench press, then deadlift. That’s what the running sheet of the day looks like anyway.

What I actually did? Weighed in, ate a lot of food, drank a lot of caffeine, annoyed Coach Ro with my excessively fast talking and eagerness to put my soft suit on, ate some grape liquorice, socialised with other competitors, re-established the fact that I am absolutely petrified of weeing myself while on the platform, shared this fear with everyone in the warm up area and then the nerves kicked in.

Warming up for squats – HOLY SH*T. I’m an extrovert and usually vibe off other people’s energy. My nerves, however, slapped me straight in the face. In order to “concentrate”, I blocked everybody out around me. It was just Ro, my warm up sets and I. Going in for my first attempt I legitimately tried to ignore the fact that half of the venue was a goddam cheer squad dedicated to me. It was so beautiful and overwhelming that I genuinely had to close my eyes and breathe before stepping under the bar. 

At this point I wasn’t sure whether I was twerking or squatting because my legs were visibly shaking I was that nervous! Somehow I pulled through, shaky walk out and all, and nailed my 115kg opener. I was too apprehensive to even celebrate, I couldn’t crack a smile. I went 115/122.5x/122.5x I only hit my opener and failed my double BW squat… but I wasn’t even disappointed in that. My biggest regret wasn’t the fast that I didn’t push harder- it was that I didn’t allow myself to enjoy the moment. This was the turning point for me on the day.

Ro gave me a pep talk, reminded me how much I love to lift, reminded me that it was my first time out on the platform and not to be so hard on myself and just enjoy the day for what it was. She definitely got to me in the best way possible because my goodness did we do a complete 180. I realised it was OKAY to be emotional and to stop supressing it. For those who know me, you already know that it is not uncommon to catch me dancing like an absolute idiot. Well…. That was me in the warm up area.

My bench warm ups felt absolutely ace… because I made sure they did. I realised I was completely in control of everything from the bar in my hands, to the thoughts in my head. Bench press 60/65/67.5x 

65kg has been my bench PB for almost 1 year now – only this time it was a different sort of PB. Weighing in 7kgs lighter than the last time I hit 65, for the first time in my life I BENCH PRESSED MORE THAN MY BODYWEIGHT (61.7KG)!

This was without a doubt both mine and Ro’s favourite lift of the day. It was slow, it was a grind and it was so damn satisfying. I was finally in the moment and loving every single second of it.

Finally, Deadlifts. Deadlifts did not go according to plan, but I am SO glad they didn’t. Deadlifts: 135/147.5x/147.5x

With a goal of hitting 150kg and only hitting my opener at 135kg I learned two things.
1) Respect the weight on the bar
2) Even though I couldn’t lock it out, I can grind a 147.5kg deadlift for 12 seconds … twice.

I worked so hard for my second deadlift attempt that I had to walk outside of the venue and stand in the rain for 5 minutes just to calm myself down. It was the strangest feeling because I realised exactly how emotional lifting could actually be. I regrouped my thoughts, remembered to enjoy the day as much as I possibly could and went straight back in.

Stepping out onto the platform for my 3rd deadlift attempt and final lift of the day is something I will never, ever forget. I had a crazy adrenaline rush, especially after almost blacking out after my second attempt and my senses were SO heightened.

Ro chalked me up, I tightened my belt and then I looked up. “Team Jess”, “Jessie’s Girls” and Barbell Babes Brigade tops were EVERYWHERE. Everyone was out of their seat and screaming for me. In volume, the BBB squad took up the majority of the gym – but the amount of people cheering for me that I had never seen before blew my mind. Everyone in that room was Team Sonny for a minute and holy f*cking shit I had never felt so exhilarated in my life. I was so surprised that I could get the bar off the floor after the effort in my second attempt, let alone grind it out for 12 damn seconds before admitting defeat.

Walking back into the warm up area I was greeted with Ro’s arms wide open. “I am just so fucking proud of you” was what she managed to get out between sobs. I have never been overwhelmed with so much emotion before. We simultaneously laughed and cried and I just felt so loved and supported. I am genuinely tearing up right now as type it out. 315kg total. Bench PB. Gold medal in the under 63kg weight class. The confirmation that I have the most incredible support system.

Was I disappointed I didn’t add to my total? I thought I would be, but I can genuinely say that I am more proud of myself than I ever thought imaginable. I left everything I had on that platform and I exceeded every expectation of my mental strength.

I’ve learnt that my ridiculously eccentric, affectionate and happy personality is okay to be unleashed.

The next time I hit that platform, you better know that I will be dancing my way to more PB’s and loving every second of the nerves and emotion.

Jess aka. Sonny x

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