Female Weightlifters Tout Physical, Mental Benefits of Sport
May 31, 2019 12:52PM
By Kathleen Ganster
Megan Roth participating in the 100% Raw competition.
When Katie Davis was 13, she was diagnosed with a hip disorder in both legs. Wanting to maintain her health and stay active, Davis began weight training with her mom. Since both of her parents, Loren and Gomer Davis, were weightlifters themselves, it was a natural.
“It was also a great way to bond with my mom,” the Penn Hills' resident said.
Fifteen years later, Davis still lifts weights five days a week and competes as a powerlifter. “I train 20 to 30 hours a week, depending on what my goal is and what I’m doing,” she said.
Davis belongs to three different gyms and trains at home so she can vary her routines.
For three and a half years, Davis competed as a bodybuilder, but when she became concerned about her diet and nutrition, she converted to powerlifting two years ago. She has been ranked as top 50 in her class in the state of Pennsylvania for the past two years for powerlifting.
Davis competes as what she refers to as a “natural” powerlifter—one who competes without using steroids and other enhancers. “There is a common myth that people have to use steroids to complete, but I never have. You can easily do it,” she said.
Davis weightlifts and trains for a variety of reasons. “Weightlifting comes with many benefits such as being a natural remedy for anxiety and depression, getting healthy physically, boosting self-confidence, and meeting new people. I have met many people along the way and have formed a lot of friendships through lifting,” she said.
Although she started training rather young, Davis encourages anyone at any age to lift. “You’re never too old to start. As for youth, it is important to be cautious and safe with lifting, particularly with form and execution of the lifts,” she said.
Davis recommends starting slowly and going to a gym where well qualified staff can assist with proper movement and skill. She also encourages other women to take up the sport.
“Women should absolutely weight train. I hear women say, ‘I don’t want to get too manly,’ but lifting is a great way to kickstart the metabolism which means more calories burnt when at rest,” she explained. “It’s also a way to take care of yourself physically, mentally, and possibly even spiritually. It can even help you look young and healthy into older age.”
Davis lifted all through high school, undergraduate, and graduate school, and as a drug and alcohol counselor, she knows firsthand another benefit of weight training.
“It’s a wonderful stress reliever. Plus, it’s a great way to meet new people who share the same hobby and passion as myself,” she said.
Megan Roth, 32, started weightlifting after she her son, Luke, now 3, was born.
“A friend of mine suggested that I try weightlifting to get back into shape after I had the baby, so I started with light training,” she said. Luke was six months old when Jones started lifting. Although she had been a runner and done beach body workouts in the past, Roth was new to weightlifting.
“I loved it right away,” she said.
In addition to being busy with a young son, Roth also owns Mainstreet Bake Shop in Saxonburg, so she depends on a lot of family support to help her fit her two to two-and-a-half hour workouts in three to four days a week.
About a year ago, Roth began to enter power lifting competitions. Like Davis, she also participates in “natural” competitions.
“You are categorized by weight and age and have three different kinds of lifts. I love competing,” Roth said.
She trains at Schrec’s Health Club in Sarver under the direction of Lance Schrecengost, the gym owner. “It is very important to get a trainer who knows what they are doing and who can help you,” she said. There is also a group of power lifters that support and motivate each other.
Roth encourages other women, no matter what age, to start weight training. “We have a woman in her 50s who had had two knee replacements and does amazingly,” she said.
Roth can notice the difference in her strength and feels healthier overall since she started training.
“It’s given me a ton of confidence,” she said. “I wanted to get in really good shape and get strong. I’m still working on it, but I am so much stronger.”
She is also winning. On May 4, Roth competed in the 148-pound weight class at the 100% Raw Competition, held in Erie. The event was hosted by the 100% Raw Powerlifting Federation.
“I won for my class. I was so happy!” she said.
Roth also has a big fan—her son, Luke.
“He will come to the gym to watch me lift and will say, ‘Go mummy, go,’” Roth laughed.