Martha Tevita, 26, Central Coast, NSW
Why don’t you try lifting this?’ my friend Eddie, 26, laughed. He pointed to a bar loaded up with giant weights. We were at the gym, but exercise was new for me.
I’d always been a big girl, but when I reached 135 kilos last year I decided to get fit. Eddie was really into weightlifting, but I usually stuck to the treadmill and other cardio exercises.
Is he serious? I thought, eyeing the 170-kilo bar.
‘No way!’ I smiled. ‘But it’ll be funny to watch me try.’ So I heaved as hard as I could. But instead of struggling and straining, I lifted the bar clear off the ground.
‘Oh my God!’ Eddie said, his jaw falling open. I was as shocked as he was.
‘I guess I don’t know my own strength!’ I laughed.
'Is he serious?' I thought, eyeing the 170-kilo bar.
A coach, Layne, saw my amazing feat. ‘Wow!’ he said. ‘You’re a natural.’ He offered to train me for strong-woman contests. I liked the idea of building up my strength, so I agreed to start training. It’d be a great way to get fit too, I thought. So I went to the gym before and after work every day.
Layne gave me support and advice, and another friend, Mick, started to work out with me for motivation.
After just a few months, I was down to 100 kilos and ready to compete. For the first few contests I was just pleased to take part. Then in March, there was a contest in Melbourne to crown Australia’s Strongest Woman.
I was nervous, but I threw myself into the events. For one I had to throw a giant 90-kilo stone over a bar. For another, I had to carry 250 kilos on my back for 20 metres as fast as I could.
It was exhausting but all worth it. When the judges tallied the results, they revealed that I was the winner.
Everyone at the gym was happy for me, and my parents, Koale and Caroline were thrilled too.
Last month I flew to South Africa to represent Australia in the world championship, where I came second.
I now visit schools and
try to encourage people to follow their dreams. After
all, I’m proof that you never know what you’re capable
of until you give it a go!
Originally published in that's life! Issue 29, 2016.