June 2015 Lifter of the Month
Lifter of the Month, Alice Zheng, has spent a large sum of her life relocating to different places and this month, the passionate powerlifter's latest adventure takes her to Finland for the 2015 IPF World Classic Championships. Currently rooted in Princeton, Zheng divides her time as a programmer for a startup company, serving as a NJ State referee, assistant coach for Princeton Powerlifting and most recently, gaining momentum as a Team USA competitor at Worlds.
The 22-year-old shares that she may never have realized her own strength if a coworker had not invited her to the gym in the summer of 2012. "I'd always been interested in becoming stronger but never tried lifting because I was afraid of hurting myself," she admits. " He taught me the main lifts and I got so engrossed in getting stronger from week to week that I still look forward to every workout now."
Zheng entered her first competition a year later in August 2013 at the USAPL NJ State Open Championships in New Brunswick, where she met her coach Kimberley Walford, and has been hooked ever since.
Zheng now has several records under her belt, which include setting an American record at the 2013 USAPL American Open with a 135kg/298lb squat and a year later surpassing her own record with a 137.5kg/303lb squat competing in the 67.5kg weight class. Last year, she was deemed best overall best female lifter at the 2014 USAPL PA State Open.
She acknowledges that her greatest triumph to date was winning gold at the 2014 USAPL Raw Nationals, which solidified her rank on Team USA, a feat that didn't need record breaking numbers to be meaningful. "I lost about 10lbs in order to compete in the 63kg weight class, she admits. I usually competed in the 67.5kg weight class for local meets. I didn't hit a single PR that day, but this has been my proudest achievement because it gave me the opportunity to compete at an international level for the first time."
A self-proclaimed "coach potato" in her youth, the 22-year-old shares that earning her spot at Worlds was one she never saw coming when she began competing over a year ago. "I would never have dreamed that I could one day earn the chance to compete at an international level," she explains. This opportunity has totally revitalized my training and made me more determined than ever before to be the best powerlifter I can be."
Despite having the power to bench 72.7kg/160lbs and deadlift 162.5kg/358lbs, she explains that squats rank superior for her with its ability to translate a key lesson in life outside the gym. "I love the sheer focus and intensity that goes into fighting my way out of the hole with heavy weight on my back," she explains. "Growing confidence that I could handle physical weight on my shoulders helped grow my confidence that I could handle the psychological weight of my responsibilities outside of the gym."
Her advice to new lifters is one she personally learned through her own training that with continuous grit and fortitude, the sky's the limit. "If you miss a lift, let it go," she states. "The weight might be too heavy for you right now,[but] that doesn't mean it will be too heavy for you tomorrow or the day after or at your next meet. Let go of your failures and move on. Lifting taught me how to refuse to give up or let anything, no matter how intimidating, get the better of me."
You can watch Alice and Team USA compete at the 2015 IPF World Classic from June 5 - 14th on Goodlift.
Written by Ruby Liu