Local weightlifter Lisa Gilbert has qualified for the BDFPA National event in Edinburgh on Thursday July 20 after success in her first ever powerlifting meet. 39-year-old Gilbert, who only started weight training in December, won the 55.5kg class after lifting impressive weights across the board.
A personal best of 62.5kg in the bench press before a huge 120kg deadlift meant, after her 95kg squat, that she had done enough to qualify for the National event, run by the BDFPA (British Drug Free Powerlifting Federation) at the first time of asking.
Gilbert is coached by 3x World Champion Callum Barney, who is also involved with Horsham Rugby Club, and was put in touch with him by local Olympian Jade Lally. After getting in touch, Gilbert discussed her goals with Barney and now ‘checks in’ with him twice a week to discuss everything.
Gilbert also revealed that Barney looks after the nutrition side of things for her, allowing her to focus on the powerlifting and giving her the best possible chance of success.
An administrator by day, Gilbert has been training at the gym five times a week since mid-December at the newly refurbished ‘The Bridge’ in Broadbridge Heath in preparation for these competitions, and she has found that it has improved much more than just her strength.
She said: “Weight training has given me so much body and mental confidence. I am eating more and toned up all the hard to get to wobbly bits! I have learnt my body has a function rather than just to look good. It feels amazing to go into a gym and lift weights, it gives me pleasure and makes me proud of myself.”
Gilbert is not pursuing this journey alone however, with all her family playing their part in supporting her. Husband Rob plays perhaps the biggest role however, accompanying her to every training session and ‘spotting’ her to ensure she is doing all of her lifts safely.
Her family have also all chipped in to help pay for her flights and accommodation in Edinburgh for the National event that is less than a month away, and she would not be able to compete at such short notice without the overwhelming support from them all.
Gilbert hopes that her success can inspire other women to get into weight training as she revealed there are no other female weightlifters - that she knows of - that train at The Bridge, a place full of ‘friendly faces’ that has helped her reach the heights she has.
She said: “I have made lots of friends at the gym, we go there most evenings so always see friendly faces and they have all been supportive about my competition and wished me well. There are a few who train in the mornings and they have been amazing support, again ‘spotting me’, shouting encouragement and telling me how well I am doing. It is an amazing thing to be a part of.”