Strong Okanagan females are taking over gyms and weightlifting clubs while encouraging others to do the same.
Women in Kelowna are breaking down barriers and joining traditionally male-dominated sports with success.
“Our club is heavily female-dominated,” said Kayla Shepard, a member of the Kelowna Vikings Olympic Weightlifting club.
Mike Bencsik, a Viking member, said that often when men first join the club, they are “out lifted” by women. Bencsik explained that Olympic lifting is a very technical sport and he has noticed that women are more patient with the learning process than men.
“It’s an ego thing,” said Bencsik
Shepard said that the club is over 70 percent women and welcomes people of all ability levels.
Shepard started lifting in her early teens while competing in snowboard cross. Since then she slowly transitioned into lifting through cross-fit before focusing on Olympic lifting. Shepard recently came second in her weight class at the Canadian Championships
“It is cool to be a strong woman,” she said.
The Vikings also welcome people who don’t have any previous experience as an athlete.
“I grew up doing zero sports,” said Laurel Timmer, a lifter with the Vikings.
Shepard said that developing confidence in the weight room is very important, especially for young women.
Timmer said that coming into weightlifting, she realized that people don’t focus on the way their body looks and instead focus on building strength.
“It makes you feel confident because you feel strong,” said Timmer.
Timmer said that initially she was nervous to start lifting but soon began to love the training.
Timmer and Shepard encourage everyone, regardless of their gender, to get out, move their body and try weightlifting if they are interested.
“The payoff is so worth it,” said Timmer.