#SwoleMates – The Strengths & Struggles of being in Love with a Lifter

by Rhaea Stinn

By Nicola Paviglianiti

During my time in powerlifting, I have seen countless romantic relationships develop through the sport. The barbell seems to have a special ability to bring out a strong romantic bond between two people. You don’t have to look far to see a number of well-known powerlifters and members of the strength community in Canada and around the world that are dating, in serious relationships, or that are happily married.

I met my own boyfriend Ben Langley in the warmup room at the 2017 Canadian Powerlifting Nationals in Quebec. He was handling his cousin after his own competition, I was talking with another powerlifting pal. A quick hello led to a social media connection and conversation, that soon led to a couple of lifting lovers.

 Powerlifting Competitiors

Maybe cupid adds a little extra love dust to the lifting chalk. Maybe it’s because strength sports appeal to a certain type of person – hardworking, a little crazy, passionate – that attract one another. Maybe because the gym, competitions, as well as social media provide a platform to meet and interact with others and potentially land a date. Maybe because all powerlifters tend to have irresistibly sexy squat faces? 

Whatever it is, having both individuals as competitive athletes is NOT your average relationship. There are a number of goods and bads of being a #PowerCouple that constantly have to be navigated. A lot of great gains, but a lot of challenges when your significant other is an athlete as well.

Someone who understands the sacrifices.

Being elite in any sport requires a lot of sacrifices! Early mornings and late nights giving up sleep to get a session in, saying “no” to events due to having to get to the gym instead, being particular with your diet – the list goes on.


Fitting in cardio session at midnight to cut weight

Luckily, when your partner is a lifter too, they understand and have been there as well. There are no questions asked or “whys” when you gotta do what you gotta do and ditch a family gathering to go train instead. Not only do they understand, but they will often make the sacrifices WITH you. There have been many days (despite not having to train himself) Ben has come to the gym with me to cheer me on, done cardio with me, and passed up yummier food to join me in a tupperware meal of plain chicken.

While friends and family may question your motives or pressure your actions otherwise, when your partner is a powerlifter you always have someone who supports your passions and you never feel alone.

House Decorating.

House enhancements becomes easy when you are both lifters. Inner Strength Products stickers stuck everywhere, lacrosse balls in every corner, foam rollers and bands scattered everywhere, medals hanging on the walls instead of photos. Every cupboard seems to be over flowing with shaker cups, and there’s no space for cute ornaments when every counter-top holds a big tub of protein. Top requirement when buying a house? All a couple of lifters need is good basement for a future home gym please!

A bad gym day is a VERY bad day

Ever have a bad training session that literally feels like the end of the world?  The worst is the grumpiness and crummy moods that take place when one of you has a rough day at the gym. Another level of awful is when someone in the relationship is injured! Jealousy, anger, endless complaining, tears, awkward drives home from the gym, sulking – you experience it all. A bad day by your partner often negatively impacts the other person and their training too, and it can lead to some very low moments within a relationship. When Ben was injured prior to competing at the European Arnolds, I found myself getting sad and depressed, and dreading my own training even though I was perfectly fine.


That not-so-happy time I cried when bench didn’t go my way and I welcomed the treadmill

Company & A Cutie for your Cues

Having a training pal who knows you and how you lift can lead to extra gains. People underestimate the importance of having a consistent training pal and someone who can help you in your lifting and who knows what you need. My confidence has significantly improved since having someone I trust always with me, and bench becomes so much easier when I have someone to always give me a spot and bench handoff. Long squat-bench-deadlift sessions fly by when you have your special someone there at the gym with you. Our time spent at the gym is usually the highlight of my day, and I have so many special memories joking around, dancing to the Goodlife music together, or cheering each other on for each set.

Lifter in Gym Wearing Canadian Powerlifting Union Tank

That day bae lost a bet and had to wear my clothes to the gym.

Gruesome Grocery Bills

Say goodbye to dinner dates at a restaurant unless it’s a buffet! With two hungry powerlifters the grocery bill becomes insane, and the amount of dishes that can pile up due to so much eating can get nasty.

At least it’s easy taking in the groceries, as no matter the haul with two stubborn strong people it is ALWAYS completed in one trip. Forget greeting your lifting girlfriend at the airport with a bouquet of flowers. Instead, Ben brings me my favourite foods. And to be honest, I wouldn’t rather it any other way.

Maybe this grocery haul will get us to dinner? 

Camera Struggles

With two silly strength athletes, nice photos are few and far between. With big squat legs and always being sore wearing comfy athletic attire is the norm. A nice smile for the camera also never seems to be a thing, and at least one of us seems to always be striking a flex, or posing showing off our guns or glutes. I also seem to have a habit of squatting Ben every chance I get, and proving to every photographer that I actually can.

Because squatting in a dress and heels at a castle is always a good idea….

Meet Magic

Powerlifting meets are always an adventure! They often include travel, nice hotels, meeting new people, and learning lots about lifting and life. There is no one I would rather experience these things than with my best friend. Achieving your goals and dreams together is priceless, and sharing the experiences and emotions that come with powerlifting is guaranteed to make you closer. Competing at a meet together means making memories for a lifetime, and having your loved one in your corner can make all the difference.

Maybe you and your significant other are powerlifters and can relate, maybe you’re a lifter considering asking out another lifter, or maybe you want a bit of silly insight into the life of two crazy athletes in love. While it may not be for everyone, through the good times and the bad there is no one I would rather have as my partner in crime in both lifting and life than a powerlifter.