A trio of older women working out at a gym in Las Cruces are making an impact in the sport of weightlifting and they are doing it in a natural way.
Felica Hale, Storm Sermay and Roberta Stathis set or equaled numerous national or state records at the Summer Nationals in Roswell this summer. The event was sponsored by the Natural Athlete Strength Association, which offers competitive weightlifting in a drug-free environment.
The three women, who seem more like baking cookies than pumping iron, qualified for the National Masters in Oklahoma City on Nov. 20 and 21.
“There are a lot of misconceptions about (weightlifting) – that it’s for young guys who are muscle giants,” said their trainer Rich Kahle who oversees the women and their workouts at the gym. El Paseo Road.
“It’s more about personal success and competing against people of the same height, the same age and working on self-improvement,” he added.
Hale participates in the Master 3 division (60-69 years) in what is called powerlifting – squat, bench press and deadlift. She set national records in all three individual events and in the combined total in the 198-pound weight group.
Sermay competes in the Masters 4 division (70-79 years old) in what is called motorsports – curl, bench press and deadlift. She also set national records in all three individual events and the combined total in the 132-pound category.
Stathis participates in Masters 3 (60-69), also in motorsports. She set New Mexico State records in all three individual events and in the combined total in her weight class of 119 pounds. She also tied the national record in the deadlift.
Stathis said she was going through a rough patch earlier this year after her husband died.
She called herself a “mess” and tried to withdraw from her training, but Kahle insisted that she go out and continue training.
“It made me forget to be sad,” she said.
Stathis said when she arrived at the competition in Roswell, she was terrified of participating.
But she said she took off her glasses and thought, “I can’t see them, so they can’t see me.”
“I had a blast,” she said.
Hale said she loves weightlifting and just set simple goals for herself to do better than she did when she last met.
“You always fail, but these are successful failures,” she said. “Where I left off last meet is where I want to start the next time I meet and go beyond. “
Sermay said she started lifting weights about 20 years ago when she was doing triathlons, but injured her foot and couldn’t run.
“I tried powerlifting; I could bend over and pick up something heavy, ”she said.
Sermay took more than a dozen years out of the sport but resumed in 2020.
“You are competing against yourself,” Sermay said. “There’s no real competition against other people. You just try to improve what you do.
Jodi Avalos also trains in the same gym and set national records at Roswell while qualifying for the National Powerlifting Championships in the 123-pound category in Masters 2 (50-59 years).
Kahle said it’s never too late to try weightlifting.
“As you get older people think, ‘I can’t do this,’” he said.