Yeppoon teen proves lifting not just for the boys
AMY Keen is not just smashing records, she's setting out to change the way the world views female power-lifters.
"There's that stereotype that it's a male dominated sport and I want to get girls into power-lifting and lifting weights because they have that fear that they'll get bulky if they lift weights,” Ms Keen said at the Scrutiny, Strength and Conditioning gym.
"There's a lot of strong women out there that the world just doesn't know about. You just see the big guys. Because females don't lift as much as males do - some do- but the world doesn't see ... how many other females there are that are exceptionally strong.”
The former swimmer made the switch to power-lifting earlier this year and is already making a name for herself as a national champion.
After working closely with trainer, Shaun Housman, she took the platform in her first ever competition last month and came away with gold after competing in the 130 kilogram squat, 62.5 kilogram bench press, and 142.5 kilogram dead lift.
"At only 16-years-old, for her to take out the open 84 kilogram category is quite an achievement and one that definitely deserve[s] some recognition,” Scrutiny, Strength and Conditioning's Shaun Housman told the Morning Bulletin.
Coming up to the October 22 compeition, however, Ms Keen struggled with nerves, and credits her support system at the gym for getting her where she is today.
"It was the best experience of my life,” she said.
"I was definitely the youngest... everyone was late 20s, early 30s.”
Ms Keen was humble in regards to her potential to take out the compeition, and didn't even know she was in with a chance until she wakled out for her second attempted dead-lift.
"They said 'if you get this up you'll be 15 kilos in front of the lady that was winning'.
"I was just there for the fun of it.”
Ms Keen was unaware of what power-lifting even was before she was introduced to the sport by Mr Housman when a friend suggested that she join the Rockhampton gym.
"When I was a swimmer we did two gym sets a week and I loved it. It was always one of my passions and towards the end of my swimming career I said 'stuff it, I love doing those two gym sessions' ... I had a technique session and it led me being where I am today.”
The Yeppoon-based teenager travels to Rockhampton every day for school and trains at the gym four to five days a week, and has recently implemented swimming back into her routine on Thursdays and Tuesdays to increase her fitness.
"I just like getting new [personal records] and seeing how much I can lift and I just love everyone here,” she said.
The young powerhouse squats on Mondays, benches on Wednesdays, dead-lifts on Thursdays, and normally trains overhead presses or shoulders on Saturdays or Sundays, whenever she's not working.
"Its been really intense because I've been on a strength building program for basically half this year so ever since I started here, which was beginning of April, I went on a month of technique work trying to get my forms correct and from then it's just strengthened.
"Every Sunday, I prep my meals which is just chicken or mince with some peas and some sweet potato and that's what I eat two times a day at school and for breakfast I have two eggs and dinner is just meat and veg.”
Ms Keen also has a bit of a sweet tooth for Oreos and donuts, and relies on her power-lifting best friend, Scott, to keep her focused on her weight category.
One message that Ms Keen wants to get out there is that girls don't have to be afraid of weightlifting.
With the craze of tiny waits, slim upper bodies and shapely behinds, many young women are steering clear of any upper body training, which Ms Keen says isn't going to cause them to bulk up unless they are also partaking in things like steroids.
"I've had a lot of girls come up to me and ask me and I've helped them and I've said what I've learnt.”
And she is set on getting the message out there on the benefits of this strength-building sport.
"Don't be afraid to try something new. I took that step and I love it. And I look at this and I think I could go pretty far,” she said.
"It increases my mood and happiness so much. I could be having the worst day at school ever then I come and my mood increases so much. Its because I'm working out and because of the people. A lot of girls are scared to come to the gym because of guys. But the guys here are the ones that keep me coming to the gym. They encourage you. They push you in a way to get your lifts. They motivate you.”
Ms Keen has developed such a passion for power-lifting, that when she graduates and moves to the Gold Coast to study remedial massage, she wants to focus on treating other power-lifters.
But the first thing she'll be doing when she arrives on the Coast will be joining a new gym.
"I'm aiming to hopefully be one of the strongest 16-year-olds in the world.”