(The photos in this video are courtesy of Alexandra Butler from Butler Photo LLC)
Each morning Rachel Black wakes up with her 2-year-old son, gets him breakfast and lets him pick a fun activity to play.
She packs him into the car and they go to TLC Fitness in Williamsport where Black trains for about two hours, lifting weights as high as 360 pounds as she trains for the Strongman nationals competition in June. The 2-year-old also lifts his share of weights.
After training, she gets her son ready to go to daycare and then leaves for a 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. shift at her job. The next day, the pair start their routine over again.
It seems like an exhausting schedule, but for Black it’s worth it to spend time with her son and support her own mental health.
“It gets my son active. It gets me active,” Black said. “I’m doing what I love to do.”
Black first began lifting weights in 2013. At first simply an effort to become more active and lose weight, she soon realized that she needed something more engaging. The standard exercises were boring and Black found herself simply going through the motions.
A friend suggested power lifting and Black was shocked at what she was able to accomplish. Weights she thought she would never be able to lift were now challenges to overcome and goals to accomplish.
Black took a hiatus from lifting after she became pregnant with her son and while she tried to stay healthy, soon her mental health began to suffer and she realized it was time to get back to the gym.
But the COVID-19 pandemic meant that daycares were closed, so Black was unsure how to make her passion for strength training and her duties as a mother coincide. Steve Kurtz, owner of TLC Fitness, said she could bring her son to the gym and soon weight lifting turned into a family activity.
Since returning to the gym Black has entered into the Strongman program, participating in her first competition in January and placing first, qualifying her for the national competition in June.
“It’s empowering to see,” She said. “You put in the work for it and you’re proud of the progress that you’re making and you get over the mental blocks that you have.”
‘Doing what I love’
Black has lost over 90 pounds since she began training. While it’s an encouraging accomplishment, she said focusing on her own mental health is more important.
“It’s come off so naturally because I’m doing what I love to do,” She said. “I enjoy what I do and I’m not stressing about that and (the weight) just melted right off.”
Black hopes to encourage other people to pursue strength sports as well, adding that anyone can learn to lift and many may be surprised what they are capable of.
“To get more people into a sport that’s so empowering,” Black said. “It doesn’t matter where you’ve come from and what you’ve done before, you’re always capable of doing the things you dream of.”