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Powering through adversity

Junior+Alexis+Zrebiec+%28right%29+bench+presses+as+her+trainer%2C+Chelsea+Moore+%28left%29+spots+her.+
Junior Alexis Zrebiec (right) bench presses as her trainer, Chelsea Moore (left) spots her.

Junior Alexis Zrebiec (right) bench presses as her trainer, Chelsea Moore (left) spots her.

Madelyn Knight

Madelyn Knight

Junior Alexis Zrebiec (right) bench presses as her trainer, Chelsea Moore (left) spots her.

Michael Hood, Reporter

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In 2016, The Huffington Post reported that four out of every five women have issues with self-esteem. Out of that group, 89 percent of women with low self-esteem said they would opt out of socializing with friends and going out because of it.

Junior Alexis Zrebiec used to identify with those four out of five women. This was until she found the sport of competitive weightlifting the beginning of her freshman year.

“Freshman year I didn’t make the volleyball team,” Zrebiec said. “I was overweight and was at a low point in my life. I knew I had to get involved with something so I started doing crossfit. Then one day we were doing squats. I maxed out and realized I was lifting a lot of weight. That’s when I realized that I should doing something like this.”

According to the Baltimore Sun, weight lifting is no longer the “man’s sport” it once was back in the 1980s and 90s, and membership in the sport is more rapidly increasing amongst women than men. USA Weightlifting, the governing body for the sport in the United States, membership in women has grown at a rate of 57.8 percent in the last decade.

Chelsea Moore is Zrebiec’s personal trainer at LA Fitness and a competitive weightlifter. She started competing in women’s weightlifting competitions two years ago.

“Participation (in women’s weight lifting competitions) has blown up,” Moore said. “More girls are trying to chase the thrill that comes with lifting heavy weight.”

According to the Department of Labor, weightlifting is the second most popular exercise activity amongst Americans, behind walking. 8.9 percent of Americans get their daily exercise through weightlifting. That is more than baseball, softball, soccer, basketball, football and volleyball combined.

“The competitions are pretty big,” Zrebiec said. “It’s a mix of everyone really, there are old people, young people. It’s the drive to compete is too much to resist regardless how old or young you are or what background you come from.”

Since Zrebiec started competing in weightlifting competitions, her friends say her confidence has shot up. Her friend, Katelynn Foxworthy, remembers Zrebiec before she started competing. She says Zrebiec struggled with self-confidence issues.

“We’ve been best friends for three and a half years , and she has never been more confident,” Foxworthy said. “She’s lost a lot of weight and built up a ton of muscle. All of this has made her visibly more confident in herself.”

Zrebiec does high intensity weight training four times a week, cardio twice a week, and one rest day.

“It is really important to cover all three of the main exercises (bench press, squat and deadlift),” Zrebiec said. “I really don’t like doing deadlift, squat is probably my favorite but you have to do them all.”

She has plans to compete in a state-wide competition in Plainfield on June 23.

“I want to do this as long as my body can do this,” Zrebiec said. “I want to be one of those 65 year old women that still compete in competitions.”

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