Powerlifters carry the weight of dedication

Outside of school and behind gym doors, NPHS students are chasing their own goals and ambitions in the form of a less well known sport: powerlifting.

For Shandler Bawa, junior, powerlifting is more than just a side hobby. His passion for the sport is evident through his title as a junior national powerlifting champion in 2022. Out of Bawa’s four competitions, including nationals, he has placed first each time.

Chasing the goal of becoming a world champion in powerlifting is a strong ambition for someone so young. What sets Bawa apart from other high school athletes he is competing with is his extreme dedication to the sport. “If you aren’t training consistently everyday, you’ll only fall behind the rest of your other competitors in your weight class or age group,” Bawa said.

Bawa is currently expanding his following on Instagram and Youtube, with people tracking his journey and progress. His current routine is not for the weak, but inspires his followers to push themselves. “I am currently on a PPL split (push pull legs) where I bench on my push days, deadlift on my pull days, take a rest day, then squat on my leg days, then do it all over again,” Bawa said.

Bawa is not the only athlete on a journey to better his lifestyle and increase his strength. Gary Chile, sophomore, has developed a stronger mindset and found his passion for lifting after training consistently over the years. “I used to think that lifting was something you kind of just do whenever but then I got addicted to it in a good way,” Chile said.

Lifting not only benefits Chile physically, but also gives him many opportunities to meet new people at the gym. “There’s a lot of faces that I see in the gym and I know everyone pretty well because I like to be social and lifting helps me do that,” Chile said.

Going to the gym six times a week, Chile has become familiar with the gym community. “Always ask people if you need help, the gym community is really nice,” Chile said.

Like Chile, many other athletes are dedicating time and working hard to achieve their ambitions. Anthony Gerolamo, sophomore, reminds himself to stay mentally determined and persistent with his goals even when he loses motivation. “I know that if I ever want to get stronger or look better than I have to keep doing what I do and even if I don’t feel good I have to push through it and get my stuff done,” Gerolamo said.

As an outside of school sport, athletes are forced to keep themselves accountable. “I sometimes wonder why I do what I do but then I always realize that it’s better for my health and it’s fun,” Gerolamo said.

Over the years, Bawa has developed his own motivation for staying consistent and following through with his goals. “I also like to think that working out everyday is only an investment in yourself, meaning I’m putting in the time to better myself physically and mentally because not only am I physically exerting myself, but I also need to have the mental grit to push through the exercise,” Bawa said.