Lifting it up to the Lord: Students test their limits

For men and women who are fulfilled by seeing how much weight their bodies can bear, the APU Power Lifting Club is for you.

The club links a group of competitive lifters with a supportive community via social media. On Saturday, the club held its annual Power Lifting Tournament.

For three hours, competitors came to have fun and to try to beat their personal records. The competition was set in a sequence of three lifts: bench, press and deadlift.

At 4:30 p.m., 13 competitors checked into the APU weight room and began stretching their bodies to get ready for the competition.

Chairs were set up for the audience in front of the power racks. Family and friends started to gather, and the air quickly filled with excitement and an eagerness to see what would take place.

The first round featured the women. Junior applied exercise science major Stacy Mendoza went first; in her opening squat, Mendoza was able to lift 185 pounds, and in her second attempt she lifted 195 pounds.

Mendoza is not a part of the Power Lifting Club, but she would like to get involved.

“I really enjoy the environment,” Mendoza said. “I think [when people] hear ‘power lifting,’ they think it’s a lot of people that are super mean and unwelcoming. But, that is not the case at all. [This club] has been the most welcoming and accepting. As long as you’re trying your best, they’re not judgmental.”

Throughout the competition, “being judgmental” was the last impression that the group of power lifters exhibited. Instead, uplifting each other was the mantra for the night.

Senior applied exercise science major Lauren Lee went next. Lee is currently working with the APU football team as a trainer in strength and conditioning. She trains seven days and week, mostly twice a day. She is now experimenting with central nervous system overload to see if her body is able to progress with no days off.

On Saturday night, Lee broke her personal record in squats and deadlifts. In a “reckless decision,” she decided to go for 315 pounds in squats and made it.

“It was awesome and really unexpected,” Lee said.

For Lee, the gym is not just about how far she can push her body. It’s also a worship session.

“My motivation when I lift is putting Christ at the center,” Lee began. “I get to spend time with him and use this gift He has given me to give back to him. So when I get under the bar, I say, ‘God give me the strength of angels right now.’”

Senior computer science major Jacob Martinez won the total pounds in weight championship for the third year in a row. Martinez lifted 1,300 total pounds.

“This was the strongest year for the guys, and it was exciting. The adrenaline helped, and getting new [personal records] was great,” Martinez said.

Martinez’s family of athletes and lifters came out to see him as they do for all of his competitions. Jacob stood out among the athletes as being extremely focused, displaying a calm demeanor.

“Jake likes challenges,” said Michael Martinez, Jacob’s father. “He likes to push himself to see what he can do. He’s always been calm about it. He’s not wild like some [people are], yelling and screaming or theatrical.”

Martinez explained that when he is tired, he uses the strength of the Lord to tell his body that he can lift more than he thinks he is capable of. Each competition keeps him focused on the ultimate goal of progression. Every extra pound lifted means he is getting stronger.

Junior computer science major Jason Kirschenmann won the pound-for-pound win—the total weight divided by body weight.

“It still hasn’t dawned on me,” Kirschenmann said. “I mean, I was surprised when [club president] Gordon called my name. I was like, ‘Oh, I guess I won.’”

Kirschenmann heard about the tournament last year when his brother competed. He wasn’t able to attend then, but this year he made sure that he was free. The 2016 pound-for-pound champion beat all of his previous records.

“Up until this semester, my best squat was 345, my best bench was 220, and deadlift was 365,” Kirschenmann said. “My squat today was 425, so I added 80 pounds. I added 25 to my bench, and for my deadlift, I added 70 pounds.”

APU Power Club President and junior finance major Gordon Chang was proud of the turnout this year.

“I loved the crowd,” Chang said. “I love seeing new faces, and I hope this continues, because a handful of people are enjoying it.”

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