On September 22nd, 2016 Jozette competed in her second powerlifting meet at Camp Nerd Fitness in northern Georgia. Jozette has been at MSP Fitness since late 2013. Her initial desires to make fitness a habit quickly evolved into a passion for getting strong. As of late, Jozette has enjoyed expressing said strength through the three main lifts found in the sport of powerlifting (back squat, bench press, and deadlift). For the past two years she has found great support and camaraderie through Nerd Fitness (NF), an online community with a fresh perspective on exercise and lifestyle, encouraging fellow nerds (a term of endearment I assure you) to, “Level up your life, every single day.” It was back in 2015 when Jozette approached her Exclusive Coaching (EC) Coach Taylor Gish with the desire to compete at a powerlifting meet held at the annual Camp Nerd Fitness. On September 22nd, 2016 Jozette competed in her second powerlifting meet at Camp Nerd Fitness in northern Georgia. What follows is the account of her second competition and camp experience.
Q: Jozette, first off, there’s a noticeable difference between training to make fitness a habit and training for powerlifting. What sparked your initial desire to make fitness a priority and how did they evolve in the span of a few years?
A: When I first found MSP Fitness I wasn’t really sure what I exactly wanted out of it. I just knew that a movement practice was something you “should do.” Taylor worked with me from literally the ground up, coaching me to be able to move in the ways my body was designed to do! Once I had good form established at lower weights, we started getting out the barbells and other fun equipment, which increased my desire to get stronger. It really motivates me to do new things and to see the numbers on the bar increase.
Q: Once you set your mind towards the goal of competing, what was the ramp up to your first meet like? Physically? Mentally?
A: Once I decided to compete we started to slowly move the reps down and the weight up. At first it doesn’t seem like it would be all that different, but I found it really surprising how it felt to lift heavy. It is just as tiring as going for volume (if not more), but it’s a different kind of tired. It is also a strange feeling to miss lifts, which is totally normal in competition lifting. For a perfectionist like me it was a struggle to be ok with that feeling.
Once I got to the meet there were also nerves about performance, lifting with other people, and lifting in a new place. That said, Taylor totally set me up for success before I arrived. We had practiced the meet, attempts, warming up and even the lifting prompts (though they weren’t used) before I left. I knew what I was doing and that made me more confident to go for broke at that first meet.
Q: Was it any different this go around at your 2nd competition?
Definitely! One thing that helped was that I worked to my one rep maxes for all the lifts in April of this year. When I competed for the first time last September it was all a blur. In April when we preliminarily tested my maxes, I was able to focus on what a max lift actually felt like and to listen to what fatigue felt like in my body. When we started ramping up for the September meet this year I felt much more confident in choosing my attempts and knowing what I could or could not do successfully. Also, having done the competition in the past I was much more comfortable with the situation and knew what to expect.
Q: Did you have any goals for yourself at this year’s Camp NF meet?
A: Yep! When I talked with Taylor after my 1RM testing in April, I set the following goals: Squat 120 lbs, Bench 110 lbs and Deadlift 210 lbs.
Q: Okay, spill the beans, how was your actual performance?!?
A: I PR’d all my lifts and exceeded my goals! Squat 125 lbs, Bench 115 lbs and Deadlift 220 lbs for a total of 460 lbs. That’s 120 lbs over my total from last year, which blows my mind.
The week before I lifted Taylor gave me a list of all my attempts and for some reason, 220 lbs for Deadlift really freaked me out and I totally thought there was no way I’d actually ever do that (205 was my gym max and that felt TOUGH). In fact, I remember telling my husband Joel before I left that it 100% wouldn’t happen. However, after encouragement from my fellow lifters at the meet, I went for 220 and it looked like my easiest Deadlift of the day and was quite a win for me mentally!
Q: Congratulations on
reaching exceeding your goals! That’s awesome! A testament to the work you’ve put into your training? Just to let the readers know, what were your best lifts one year ago at your first meet?
A: Squat 80 lbs, Bench 90 lbs and Deadlift 170 lbs for a total of 340 lbs.
I was really self-conscious last year that my Bench was higher than my Squat. I had some issues with Squat that I had to overcome so I was pretty pumped that in the last year my Squat overcame my Bench (finally!).
Q: Quite an improvement in twelve months time! Powerlifting is notoriously demanding, not just physically, but mentally. Sometimes it’s you versus the voices in your head when you’re out there. Were there any strategies or tactics you/your coach implemented on the day of the meet to focus and perform with such success?
A: I think Taylor totally set me up for success by ensuring I had run through what would happen at the meet as much as possible prior to my departure to keep me on my game. We also talked about being a little bit selfish that day and taking a seat if I needed to or stealing some food from the dining hall. The day of the meet Taylor was texting me and checking in on how I was feeling. He gave me some mental cues and encouragement that totally got me through the meet. I definitely texted him first thing after my final attempts for each lift. He totally knew how to respond each time – with nerdy gifs of Hobbits or Ewoks celebrating.
Q: There’s a bunch of opinions out there as to whether someone should compete in a powerlifting meet if they’ve been doing the lifts for a while. Being fairly new to competition, what would you say to an individual who’s on the fence, considering competing?
A: I would say do it! First, competing in powerlifting is unlike other sports – while there are winners, you are really just competing against yourself. It’s a different kind of mindset that challenges you in a unique way. Secondly, the atmosphere is totally different from just a normal day lifting in the gym. There’s something exciting and motivating about participating in an official competition. Working off of nerves and adrenaline can totally add weight to your lift! Finally, it is super cool to be doing something with a dozen other people who love the sport that you love. There is generally a spirit of camaraderie and encouragement that you just don’t get working out by yourself in the gym.
Q: Not many of our readers may be familiar with the Nerd Fitness Community. How did you hear about the online group and how would you describe it to a muggle like myself?
A: Nerd Fitness is a wonderful website and community where the philosophy is to “Level up your life every single day.” The articles on the blog are nerdy because they are well researched and cited, but also are filled with nerdy references. The founder, Steve Kamb, created this idea that you are your own video game or RPG character and you can decide how to level yourself up. Everyone also has an Epic Quest list – basically a bucket list of things you want to accomplish in your life both for fitness and non-fitness activities. My list includes: travel to Africa, do a bodyweight Prowler pull and push, and making Diamond status on Delta. There are guilds based on the activities you enjoy. I’m a Warrior (focused on lifting heavy), but there are also Scouts (runners), Monks (martial arts) and Druids (yogis). Finally, there’s a great community of supportive, like-minded nerds that you can reach out to if you need help.
I found Nerd Fitness while just searching the internet for information on fitness and health. I’m obviously a nerd so I do a lot of research before I jump into something like a movement habit. I wanted to do it right. I actually used their guide on finding a new gym to help me find MSP Fitness! After that I continued to follow and read more, then I joined some of their community programs as they expanded and grew.
Q: That’s so cool, the message of living a life that’s a little better than it was the day before is great! What peaked your interest to attend their much raved about camp?
A: I worked at a summer camp during my college years and it was the most fun thing ever. When I heard about the NF camp I didn’t have any other trips planned that year and I thought it would be a fun way to connect into the community and learn some new things. Plus some of the classes just sounded awesome and were things you can’t really do in your normal life. Sword fighting?! Super-hero Boot Camp?! Archery?! Sign me up!
Q: Camp NF has many more offerings than just the powerlifting meet. There’s speakers, workshops, and really cool breakout activities. What were some of your personal highlights?
A: This year I did a lot of really fun classes. I took sword fighting the same day as the powerlifting meet, which was really fun. The instructor is a nerd for historical sword methodology so he sprinkled in lots of information in between our drills. I also took some great mobility classes, which I definitely plan to implement in my daily life now that I’m home. I also totally nerded out at the class on Grip Strength and realized there’s more to it than just Farmer’s Carries.
In addition to classes there were fun parties each night including a Glow Party and Costume Night. There were also board games and movies on the lawn. During the day there were Epic Quests that took you around camp like a scavenger hunt. We were in the mountains in GA so there was a waterfall you could hike up to as well. The camp had fun activities like a climbing wall, ropes course and even a Blob in the lake (ala my favorite camp movie of all time – Heavyweights). My favorite thing had to be talking to and meeting new nerd-friends.
Q: The input of a coach can make such a difference on a client or athlete’s fitness or performance. If you could, describe the “impact” of working with Taylor through the Exclusive Coaching Program at MSP Fitness?
A: I honestly would not have achieved any of these goals if it wasn’t for Taylor. At first it was all about having Taylor provide programming for me, which would actually get my butt into the gym. It helped so much having someone else take that task for you every week, so all I had to do was just show up to the gym and do what was written.
After I started developing my passion for powerlifting and lifting heavy, I was able to work with Taylor to tailor (pun intended) my programming to help achieve my goals. Not only was he there to check my form and give me advice, but he also encouraged me in my progress, which is invaluable. I think that Taylor’s holistic view of health also changed the game for me – between breathing exercises and nutrition advice, he gave me all the tools to continue to succeed.
Q: Now that you’ve checked off some personal goals, is there an specific “leveling up” on the horizon for Jozette?
A: Currently in my post-camp world I’m really interested in leveling up my grip strength. I think there are some cool things I learned that will help me strengthen that skill.
Also on my Epic Quest list is to compete in an actual powerlifting competition. The one at camp was really just for fun and didn’t include judges or cues, so it would be the next logical step to do a sanctioned meet here in Minnesota.
Q: Awesome! We at MSP can’t wait to see and hear how that goes. Now I just have to ask a few lightning round questions! Okay, you can only choose one… Favorite Lift?
A: So hard! I have to say that Squat is my favorite, but is probably the lift I’m the worst at. Bench is my least favorite, but the one I’m best at. And Deadlift is just awesome because you get to lift a heavy thing and put it down.
Q: Fashion is huge in sport, Powerlifting is certainly no different — Look good lift good. What’s your go-to training apparel?
A: If you’ve seen me at the gym you know I’m the queen of nerdy t-shirts. I feel like the gym is one place I can really express myself and wear what I want. It is a very important choice though each time! At Nerd Fitness we call it our “Super Suits” – you have to wear something that makes you feel confident and powerful.
At CNF they split the camp into four “houses” (ala Harry Potter) and we competed for the Camper Cup. I had to represent House Havik in my apparel for the competition as I won house points for PR-ing!
Q: You are known to be a fan of the comic universe. First, Marvel or DC? Second, favorite character(s)?
A: I have to say Marvel for this one, and I am a big fan of either She-Hulk (for obvious reasons) or Captain Marvel. Both are strong ladies who also are super smart and great leaders of their teams.
Q: Jozette, here’s a biggie… Captain Kirk or Captain Picard?
A: Easy! Captain Picard. Make it so!
Jozette thank you so much for detailing out your experience at Camp Nerd Fitness and your second Powerlifting meet! We can’t wait to see your training evolve and look forward to more updates as your time training in the sport goes on. If you’d like to see a video of Jozette’s lifts, you can find her attempts and PR’s on our YouTube channel. If anyone is interested in pursuing a relationship with a coach like Jozette has, you can find more about our Exclusive Coaching program HERE.