Written by: Coach Lori
“…being strong means lots of things. Sometimes it means believing in yourself enough to do something that scares the hell out of you.” -Kylie D.
Watch CrossFit 317 member Kylie Douglas during the snatch or clean portion of a WOD and it doesn’t take long to realize that this women knows her way around a barbell. Mention weightlifting and her eyes light up, her passion is firmly imbedded in steel barbells and bumper plates. Maybe not exactly what you’d think of when you hear homeschooling mom of two. But that’s the beauty of weightlifting and the resurgence in the sport that’s come along side the growth of CrossFit. As more and more women are stepping on to the stall mat covered floors of CrossFit gyms across the country, they’re finding that picking up heavy things and putting them back down has rewards that go beyond physical appearance or decreasing marathon finish times.
We recently spoke with Kylie to get her thoughts on the sport of weightlifting, her history on the platform, and advice for other women interested in entering the sport.
How did you get started in weightlifting?
“I started CrossFit 4 years ago and that was my first introduction to weightlifting. I actually thought I would hate weightlifting but I fell in love with it very quickly. I love the mix of power and grace that it takes to execute a lift correctly. It’s not just about brute strength but takes so much mental focus and technical precision.”
What are some of the myths that you’ve heard about women and weightlifting?
“I think mostly people just have no idea what exactly the sport of weightlifting is and how it’s done. When I say I’m a competitive weightlifter, I get questions like, “How much can you bench?” I hardly ever bench press as that is a lift in powerlifting not weightlifting. I also randomly get people wanting to feel my muscles, which is totally hilarious to me. I’m sure they’re in there somewhere, but until I lose some more weight you won’t be feeling them. Unless you want to feel my rock hard calves. I have amazing calves.”
What brought you to CrossFit 317? How has adding in CrossFit to your training been going?
“We moved to Avon about 6 months ago and although we specifically bought a house with a 3rd car garage to set up a lifting area, we needed time to get moved in and get the equipment to set it up. I was competing in Masters Nationals, in Savannah, just two weeks after we moved and I contacted Ashley about the possibility of training in the back room at 317 until my home gym was set up. She was super great and offered a great price for use of the weightlifting area and equipment. Everyone I came in contact with at 317 was so incredibly friendly and supportive (and I wasn’t even a CrossFitter!)
Once we got our home gym set up I started lifting there and down in Bloomington with my weightlifting coach and team. I go down there and train once a week typically. Once fall started, we got insanely busy with our boys’ fall baseball season. It was getting difficult to get down to Bloomington to train and I was getting a bit frustrated and burned out and I was missing being around fellow “fitnessy” people. I decided to take three months off of ‘weightlifting only’ programming and jump in at CrossFit 317 a few times a week instead. I always enjoyed the CrossFit community when I first started and I also knew it would help me get in better conditioning shape going into training for next year’s Masters Nationals.
I have had an absolute blast getting to know the coaches and athletes over the last few weeks and I can already tell a difference in my recovery time between my lifts (this is very important in competition and something I’ve struggled with).”
You’ve done a few competitions, can you tell us about the experience of being on the platform?
“I’ve done both CrossFit and weightlifting competitions actually. I’m a very competitive person and I’ve enjoyed competing in both sports. The major difference in weightlifting is that you are competing on a platform in front of 3 judges (and an audience) who are judging your lift from three angles. You get three separate attempts at the snatch and three at the clean and jerk. If you walk out there and miss the lift or make a mistake that disqualifies the lift, you don’t get to try again until your next attempt. You train for months for this very short and intense amount of time on the platform. You can be in the best shape and have trained like a beast right up until competition but if you don’t have control of your nerves and if you don’t have your focus and execution on point for each attempt on the platform, you can fail the lift. You can bomb out completely. That adrenaline rush and the feeling when you nail a difficult lift in that moment. That’s what I love about competition in weightlifting. There’s really nothing like it.”
You have a sticker on your van that reads “Strong is happy”. I think a lot of us can relate to that. Why is that sentiment meaningful to you?
“I received that sticker in my participant’s bag at my very first competition. I just remember being so terrified of getting on that platform for the first lift that I felt like I might actually throw up when I got out there. I wanted to quit so badly….but I didn’t. And not only did I not fail the first lift, I hit 4 out of my 6 attempts and ended up with the bronze medal in my class and qualified for two national competitions! I was so incredibly thankful to have found a sport I can actually be competitive in as a woman and mother in my thirties. That sticker reminds me of that first competition and how badly I wanted to quit because I didn’t think I could do it. It reminds me that being strong means lots of things. Sometimes it means believing in yourself enough to do something that scares the hell out of you.”
When you fall in the YouTube rabbit hole, who’s weightlifting videos are you binge watching?
“Oh my gosh, there are so many. The USAW website now live steams most national competitions from youth to masters so I watch as many of those as I can. My favorite lifters to watch (other than my teammates) are Sarah Robles, Jenny Arthur, Marissa Klingseis, Tatiana Kashrina, and Lydia Valentin. Also masters women Kristi Brewer and Shana Alverson. I also really like watching my coach, Wil Fleming, lift. He’s an amazing lifter, great technician, and always cool under pressure.”
In addition to throwing around heavy weights, what are some of your other favorite ways to spend your time?
“Well, I homeschool my two boys (Linc, 9yrs old, and Ollie, 7yrs old). That takes up a lot of time and I enjoy it (most of the time). If I ever have extra time I enjoy having coffee dates with my friends and country drives with my husband, Ben.”
Any advice that you’d like to pass along to women that might be curious about weightlifting?
“Do it. Find a good coach to teach you correctly and do it. And if you’re a CrossFitter who really likes the weightlifting part of CrossFit, sign up for a local competition. It’s so much fun and will definitely push you out of your comfort zone. If I remember correctly, that’s big in CrossFit.”
Interested in getting started at CrossFit 317? Fill out the form below and we’ll be in touch!