Holding 115 pounds over your head without any help cannot be easy especially with sweaty hands, and a lot of pressure bearing down on you. In fact, it is kind of scary to even think about. But for one BT student, this is the norm.
Maddie Sokol, a BT junior, trains for and competes in Olympic weightlifting competitions. She claims that she uses the sport as a sort of therapy for her hectic teenage life. Maddie’s first involvement with the weightlifting world was sort of a whirlwind, all coming to her at once.
She started with just working out at her local Alpharetta Lifetime Fitness, during her sophomore year, just to stay healthy like any other teenager. “After two shoulder surgeries, in the year 2013, not being able to play any sports or be able to workout had gotten to me,” said Maddie. “Before I had always been the type to go for a run when I needed to have my ‘me time.’ In March 2014, my dad told me I could get a trainer. I started training with a certified trainer and soon to be nutritionist. If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. I have never been the type of person to lift weights and want to get big, but that all changed when I started to see changes in my physique.”
One day when Maddie was bodybuilding, another trainer came up to her and asked if she had ever thought of trying Olympic lifting. That opened a new door to Maddie’s fitness journey. After training with her for a couple months, Maddie was introduced to the next level. “She asked if I was interested in entering an Olympic lifting competition. I said sure thinking it would be a fun experience,” Maddie recalled. “So she said, ‘Ok your first competition is May 23, and that I needed to start training for it ASAP.”
“I began to train with her at Body by Design, the gym that she actually worked at,” said Maddie. “In fact, most of the people I hang out with on a regular basis are people I work out with or people I see at the gym.”
As Maddie became better at the lifts, she fell in love with the sport. “I didn’t just love the sport because of the fun, I loved it because I proved to myself and the doctors that my shoulder could handle it,” said Maddie. “After them telling me I could never play an overhead sport again, I proved that I could by being able to currently lift 150 over my head.”
Being at the gym everyday can be hard, but Maddie enjoys the time she spends training alongside her friends. Even though she is currently off season right now, she does bodybuilding workouts to work on her aesthetics. “I have a pretty rigorous schedule every day, especially when a competition is in sight,” she explained. “I focus on a different part of my body every day so I can build up strength throughout all my muscles. For example, I do lower body on Sunday, back and abs on Monday, and shoulders and mobility on Tuesday.”
There is no doubt that Olympic lifting is a unique sport which requires a lot of hard work and dedication. While it may not be for everyone, it is what drives Maddie to work hard. “I love the sport, it gives me such a rush when I accomplish a new feat, and I love the people who push me to get better every day,” Maddie reflected.
“Over the next few years, I hope to see myself as an inspiration to others. I would like to major in Nutrition and Exercise Science to become a registered dietitian and certified personal trainer. In the year 2016, I will be opening up my website maddiesokolfitness.com, which will consist of a blog, videos, and personal experience to help others with the start of their fitness journey. People ask me why I love fitness so much and I ask them ‘Why don’t you?’,” Maddie smiled.