She hears her name announced and with a flicker of nervous energy, she steps forward onto the stage, the chalk dust from her hands dancing in the spotlight like a snow flurry in winter. The audience of family, friends, and enthusiasts applauds generously. It bolsters her, and she casts a glance over to her coach and mentor, who stands off in the semi-darkness with the others like her.
She approaches the barbell, a massive mechanism capped with monstrous plates nearly her body weight on each side. Rooting her feet firmly on the floor, she reaches down to wrap her hands carefully around the dull metal, locking her arms. Shins flush against the bar, she molds her body into perfect form – shoulders rolled back, spine straight, her weight centered on her hamstrings and glutes, eyes straightforward and steadfast.
Steeling herself, she slowly lifts the staggering weight, and with every fume of her physical strength and will, drags the barbell up her shins and thighs to the level of her waist.
She locked out! She did it!
As the crowd erupts with gusto, her coach steps into the light, arms in the air in victory — but she has only one thought. Turning to the tangle of family and friends, she locks eyes on her children, and bursts into the smile of a lifetime.
The 120-pound, stay-at-home mom of twin toddlers, has just attained an incredible personal goal – she deadlifted an astounding 225 pounds as a competitor in the WNPF Iron Beauty Championship event.
While in today’s world, women are ever more comfortable in non-traditional roles and sports, one doesn’t immediately think of a 120-pound mom in the surly, unlovely sport of powerlifting. Indeed, “powerlifting” summons up visions of men with no discernable necks and mountains of macho and muscle, grunting and grimacing, squatting in agony, as gargantuan weights tremble overhead.
“All true,” says Kathi Sottosanti, Director of the WNPF Iron Beauty National Championship, “but, like me, women of all ages and walks of life are drawn to powerlifting to challenge and express themselves. To break through – far and away – from pre-conceived boundaries in mind, body and spirit.” Kathi, 53, is a nationally renowned championship powerlifter herself, a highly-sought after life and fitness coach through her companies, Iron Beauty and Coach Kathi – and a mother of 5 children between the ages of 12 and 20.
On Sunday, February 25, 2018, the WNPF Iron Beauty Women’s Regional/National Championship will be held at the Ramada Inn, Bordentown, New Jersey. Only the third All-Female event in the WNPF’s 30-year history, the event will bring together women powerlifters from NJ, NY, CT, and PA under one roof to compete in multiple weight and age classes.
“To me, powerlifting is a different way to look at and appreciate my body. I wanted to see how strong I could become,” shares Nicole Mercadante, 31, a hairstylist from Clark, NJ. “Gaining physical strength helped me gain mental strength by dedicating the hours over these past several months – even when it wasn’t fun or easy. Setting and achieving this goal I set for myself has brought me out of my shell into the spotlight a bit. I want to inspire others to go outside of their comfort zone.”
“Each female competitor brings with her a story full of passion and dedication regarding why they are there, and what powerlifting has manifested in their lives,” Kathi explains. “From moms to teachers, medical professionals, stylists, social workers, and others, each competing against themselves, and supporting each other’s journey. It is truly inspiring to experience, and I’m honored to be a part of it.”