For business administration freshman Audrey Nguy, the source of her self confidence does not come from makeup or social media, but rather; powerlifting.
“I am not that girl who goes in [to the gym] to only do five-pound sets, and I am not the girl going in to do five-pound sets to watch a dude slam ten,” Nguy said. “I am going in to slam that ten for myself.”
Nguy found her love for weight and powerlifting in her freshman year of high school when she was on her high school’s track team. During this time, Nguy participated in shot put and disc, which involved a lot of weight training.
“I was realizing that I preferred to be in the weight room than actually on the track,” Nguy said.
Nguy did weightlifting for her first two years of high school and then transitioned to powerlifting her junior and senior year. Training for powerlifting consisted of Nguy going to the gym for two hours a day, six days a week, for six to seven months straight.
At her first meet, Nguy was racking about 200 pounds, whereas other powerlifters normally racked between 300 to 500 pounds per meet. Nguy currently has the ability to lift up to 550 pounds.
Nguy remembers her first meet being extremely nerve-wracking and intense.
“I was the youngest girl there, I am 5’4, and I was barely lifting 200 pounds,” Nguy said. “You have to have a very heavy mindset to go through powerlifting in comparison to other sports.”
Although the sport is demanding, Nguy wanted to do something that would physically push her that was outside of school.
Video by Sofia Silvia
“I was stressing really hard from school, so that mixed with powerlifting at the same time my brain was just on overdrive 24/7,” Nguy said. “I like to live very fast-paced, so if I didn’t have powerlifting, I don’t know if I would be how I am now.”
In order to feel less nervous about coming into a new environment, Nguy said it is important to find the right group of people who make you feel good about what you are doing.
“When you build a community of people at that certain location you feel less nervous about what you are doing,” Nguy said.
Her favorite part about powerlifting is being able to see her progress throughout the process.
“It is not common to see muscular women, so for me it made me more unique in a sense,” Nguy said.
Nguy’s friend and supporter, environmental policy analysis and planning freshman at University of California Davis (UCD) Hugo Marquez said that Nguy inspired him to want to try new things, especially during COVID-19.
“With COVID-19 and how we are all at home, Audrey reminded me to try something new, which is why I have been doing weightlifting for the past five months,” Marquez said.
Legal studies freshman Karely Aguilar at University of California Santa Cruz (UCSC) said that she was inspired by Nguy because despite having a full schedule, Nguy still made time for powerlifting.
“[Nguy’s] passion for powerlifting inspires me and I remember telling her that I would love to be her buddy in the gym and powerlift with her as a way to be there for and support her,” Aguilar said.
Working out in a male-dominated environment, Nguy hopes to break stereotypes of the gym being mostly occupied by men.
Nguy’s mom is her major source of inspiration in doing so. Her mom was one of the few female engineers in a highly male-dominated workplace and is now in charge of her entire sector, Nguy said.
“I go to the gym and have this group of 60 guys that I am friends with and if I say something they will listen to me because I am the only girl and provide them with a new perspective,” Nguy said.
Nguy’s co-worker Alexis Ramirez said she thinks Nguy has contributed to breaking the stereotype that women cannot be as strong as men.
“It takes a lot of willpower to be comfortable in your own skin and I definitely think she is breaking down barriers as a woman,” Ramirez said.