Gwen Grasdal has been spending four to six days a week at the gym preparing for the 2019 Commonwealth Powerlifting Championship that will be taking place this September in Newfoundland. The competition will see 13 commonwealth countries come together with hundreds of lifters competing against one another.
Grasdal, who is a Masters 2 Lifter (50+) began competing 5 years ago after watching a powerlifting meet in Moose Jaw with her son. “It looked like a lot of fun so I started training and learned very quickly that this was something that I enjoyed. I participated in Provincials my first year, and from there I was absolutely hooked. Everything just grew from there and this year, the opportunity to compete in Commonwealth is such an honour,” Grasdal said.
Getting the chance to compete at the Commonwealth Championship isn’t an easy road for any of the competitors. The first step is competing in a local meet, which then earns you a chance to compete in Provincials. If you get a qualifying total there, you move into the regional Western Championships, which can earn you a position in the National Competition. If you win at Nationals, you then have a chance to apply to international competitions. “When you compete at Nationals, you want to do your very best, because even if you don’t win, you can still apply for a spot at the International level, and if there are openings, they will take the top competitors,” explained Grasdal.
All of the competitions are self-funded, so it isn’t always easy getting to an International competition; however, with the Commonwealth Championship taking place in Canada this year, Grasdal noted that approximately 1/3 of competitors are Canadian. Having never been to the East coast, Grasdal is looking forward to the opportunity to put her feet in the Atlantic Ocean, walk the coast and of course, indulge in the local cuisine.
Although there are Team Canada coaches available, each competitor is allowed to bring a personal coach, and Grasdal will be bringing her daughter along to help with getting dressed and with equipment. The competitions include three attempts each at squat, bench and deadlift where participants work to lift as much as possible. “There are 3 referees that will tell you if it was a good lift or not. You really need to know what you are doing because there are many rules and regulations to follow,” Grasdal noted.
For the past five years, Grasdal, who is currently 53 years old, has taken part in numerous competitions and currently holds 8 provincial records, and held a national record for a time as well. “I honestly didn’t realize I was competitive until I started competing. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed lifting and constantly challenging myself.” Currently, Grasdal’s personal best is: Squat – 345lbs, Bench – 210lbs and Deadlift – 355lbs. “It is never too late to get to the gym. I started coming when I was 45 years old and I have never looked back. It has become a part of my regular routine now and I have witnessed people firsthand avoid taking medication for health issues by coming to the gym more regularly. The difference that it makes on your body is amazing and everyone can start somewhere.”
When asked about her favorite part about competing, Grasdal acknowledged the comradery that takes place among the competitors. “We all cheer each other on. Despite the fact that we want to beat each other, we want our best to beat their best fair and square. We help each other out and support one another as much as possible.”
Following the Commonwealth Competition, Grasdal has a new goal in mind, which is competing in the 2020 World Powerlifting Championships, which will be taking place in Newfoundland next year.
For anyone interested in trying out powerlifting, Grasdal encourages them to contact her at Wrench Fitness in Martensville and she can work with them to reach their goals.