Q&A with Tara!

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Next up in our Q&A Spotlight is Tara! Tara is super strong - she was the first of us to deadlift over 300lbs! Her numbers keep climbing and she's now closing in a 300lbs squat!

  • Tell us about yourself, athletic background, where ya from, whatcha do:
    • I grew up on a farm in eastern North Carolina. Not-fun fact: I used to work in tobacco, and any type of work I’ve done since then has seemed easy in comparison. Played softball up through part of high school, until I was old enough to drive myself to jobs. Worked my way through undergrad and grad school at UNC-Chapel Hill (where I met my husband Kevin), without much attention to physical activity. After Kevin and I moved to Chicago, I spent some time running and triathloning and even did crossfit for a little while (did NOT get hooked), until we had our son Levi. We moved to Charlotte in 2016 so I could take over as Executive Director of a nonprofit, second chance employer called Socialserve. Outside of all that, I love reading novels and newspapers, traveling, growing vegetables, singing, listening to several music-based podcasts a week, and sipping red wine or bourbon.
  • What got you into Pride Conditioning/powerlifting:
    • About six months into my new job in Charlotte, I learned the company that had been handed over to me was in pretty serious trouble. Had to lay off some folks, hand out pay cuts (including my own pay), sell the building, and other unpleasant things I won’t get into here. I turned to Pride Conditioning in a last ditch attempt to help me deal with the stress. I knew I was hooked about 2 months in, when I strained my calf muscle in a kickboxing class and was fighting back tears - not due to pain, but due to the possibility of losing my new good habit of showing up to exercise consistently. My favorite day of the week was Deadlift Friday - I even took a redeye back from LA once just so I wouldn’t miss a maxout deadlift day. At the tender age of 40, I found out I was a decent lifter! After about 6 months of taking athletic conditioning classes, I joined the powerlifting team, and I love it! I credit Pride and powerlifting for helping me manage my stress and stay calm enough to stick around and work through the problems at my organization.
  • Favorite part of training:
    • All of it, even the parts I hate (‘sup, bike sprints?). I love getting daily programming, and the variety of lifts and accessory work keep me interested. Really, training at the gym is my favorite part of the day outside of time spent with my boys. I love seeing what I can accomplish, even the small shifts of bumping a lift up by 2.5 pounds or staying in a plank for 10 seconds longer than last time. I love feeling so much more relaxed afterward. It helps that I really enjoy the people at Pride, most of all my coaches and teammates.
  • Favorite lift:
    • Although the deadlift has been the easiest lift for me from the beginning, and bench has progressed more quickly, I think my favorite lift is the squat. It beats me down the most, intimidates me, and just overall feels the hardest of the three, but it engages me in a way the other lifts don’t. (I still love deadlifts, and bench and I are on speaking terms.)
  • Proudest moment:
    • Being the first woman to deadlift 300lbs at Pride. That’s what made me curious about the powerlifting team. I’m in good company in the 300 Club now, and striving for the 400 Club, but it was still a great day. I also got my first pull-up this past year - that wasn’t too shabby either.
  • Goals for 2019:
    • 300lb squat, 175lb bench, 400lb deadlift, 185lb jerk, 5 straight pull-ups.
  • Advice for people looking to get into powerlifting or the gym:
    • Don’t be intimidated. Show up, and modify as needed to get through the workout. You’re starting where YOU are, so don’t compare yourself to others. Soon, you’ll start to see little improvements, and soon after that, you’ll be hooked on continuing to improve. On days you don’t want to show up - SHOW UP ANYWAY. You’ll always feel better afterward. This has been the key for me - I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve missed a workout (and I do 6 a week) over the last year, even though I’ve wanted to skip plenty of times. Shift your approach from trying to fit gym time in, to arranging your daily schedule around getting to the gym. My only regret is that I didn’t discover lifting earlier in my life. Don’t wait. Show up.
  • We know your son, Levi, watches you - what do you hope this passes on to him:
    • I want him to understand that commitment and hard work are necessary to get what you want. I don’t love bringing an almost-six-year-old to the gym (that’s MY time), but sometimes it’s the only way I can get there. Lately, I’ve seen him starting to get curious about what goes on at Pride, trying out the punching bags and doing box jumps. It’s a little nerve-wracking, but I’m trying to encourage it (along with repeatedly telling him to be careful and stay out of the way). The gym is the only place I consistently spend time with him outside our home, so I hope that as he gets a little older, he’ll actually start working out with me so I don’t have to be in mom mode while we’re there. (“Clean up those goldfish crumbs! Stop swinging on the bar!”).

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