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Ex-Gymnast pursues powerlifting

Junior Ayla Teresi prepares to back squat 150 pounds for five sets of eight reps in the leg room of Onelife Fitness. The workout targeted the quadriceps and was provided by her lifting coach on the “TrueCoach” app, where Teresi receives customized work- outs for her gym days.

photo by Cora Teresi


Because of various setbacks, junior Ayla Teresi decided to retire from gymnastics and take up powerlifting. Teresi participated in gymnastics for seven years and reached level ten, the last and highest rank before competing at a collegiate or Olympic level. Teresi had no desire to continue gymnastics in college. Exhaustion and injuries prompted her to pursue powerlifting.

Before Teresi left gymnastics, she looked into alternative sports to maintain her physical health. She suggested powerlifting to her parents, but it wasn’t feasible until she stopped gymnastics. Teresi knew that transitioning from 20 hours of exercise a week to nothing was not wise, so she jumped at her father’s suggestion to start weightlifting. Teresi loved it.

“I really enjoy it because it’s an outlet for me to workout,” Teresi said. “It’s very different on my body in a good way. You don’t have a lot of injuries, and it’s a lot less time.”

After starting to lift, Teresi realized she still wanted to compete. She reached out to a lifting gym to hire a powerlifting coach. Cherokee Barbell specializes in Olympic lifting, which focuses on different skills than powerlifting.However,owner Ayse Sukola wanted to help Teresi, making Teresi her first powerlifting client. There, Teresi receives several tips and tricks from those in the lifting community.

“So my coach gives me programmed workouts,” Teresi said. “The main lifts are bench, squat and deadlift, which is always what I start with. Then, I have accessory workouts that just help with strength. I also use people on Instagram who are powerlifters to see what they eat and how they train.”

Teresi will compete Dec. 3 alongside other local powerlifters in Marietta, Ga. For competitions, contenders are sorted according to weight, age and gender. They perform lifts in front of three judges, who will approve or disapprove of the lift based on technique, form and time. The winner of the class is determined by adding the weights of the three lifts together, forming the total weight. Competitors strive to reach a certain total weight to qualify for nationals. Since it is her first powerlifting competition, Teresi is experiencing a myriad of emotions.

“I’m a little nervous because I’ve never been to any kind of weightlifting competition,” Teresi said. “I have no idea what to expect...I’m also excited because it’s my first meet. I know I’ll learn a lot from it and be able to bring those skills to my next meet.”

Powerlifting has influenced the entire Teresi family. Teresi’s brother, freshman Carter Teresi, also enjoys weightlifting. The two share their own Instagram account where they post personal records, food recommendations and workout photos. In addition, Teresi’s mother, Mrs. Kelly Teresi, has seen how powerlifting has been beneficial for their family.

“It’s definitely been a blessing in the family time that we have earned back,” Mrs. Teresi said. “But also just seeing your kids doing something they love... As a mom, you always want to make sure that your kids can enjoy whatever they are trying to accomplish...and to see that is such a joy.”

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