For me it all started the day I walked into W-95, which was where the University of Alberta Powerlifting Association (UAPA) was born. I remember I was a first year university student, taking my first look at what would be my home for the next few years.
I was drawn into the rawness of the training environment and was greeted by a friendly stranger who later became my friend. I started to train quite regularly in W-95 and soon enough, I found my whole day centered around that room. Part of it was in pursuit of another PR, but the thing that kept me coming back was the community. I would always stop by to see who was there, and spent most of my day with the club regardless of whether I was training or not.
The friendly stranger who became my friend.
As a student, I was unsure of what I wanted to pursue and ended up taking some time off school. Sadly, this meant time away from W-95 and the UAPA.
However as I continued to train, I knew that I really wanted to compete. So I did, and had my first competition, “PowerSurge IV” on November 16th, 2013. That day became the best day of my life and became a catalyst for me to continue to compete. I mean it was a bunch of people coming together to lift and set personal bests, what’s not to love?
After the meet, I found out that I really missed the powerlifting community. Even though I had no clue what I wanted to do, I decided to go back to school so that I could become part of the UAPA again. Eventually, through powerlifting I found my way into studying Kinesiology.
W-95 Farewell Meet with the UAPA. RIP W-95.
Fast-forward a few years and a lot has happened. I had the opportunity of a lifetime to join the team at Inner Strength and SBD Canada, which is why I am able to write to you today. Earlier this year, I also represented Team Canada at the IPF Classic Worlds in Killeen Texas. Furthermore, I am [surprisingly] approaching my graduation in what seemed like a never-ending journey with no clear path.
Missing my final deadlift at IPF 2016 Classic Worlds.
Through all these experiences, I have met people of all ages with all sorts of backgrounds. People are pursuing PhD’s, battling chronic illnesses’, have multiple children and yet they all still have the time and dedication to train. Every Powerlifter has a story, and you can learn a lot from their experiences both inside and outside of the gym.
Without Powerlifting, I would likely still be that lost [and weak] student still trying to find my way. It has been the backbone of my life and continues to support me through my endeavors. Powerlifting has given me direction, and has trained me to be disciplined and humble. It has also given me a chance to explore the world, and give back to the community.
At the end of the day, I know the community is always there to lift me back up, so thank you all for your continued support!
Clifton Pho is a powerlifter from Edmonton and can be found online at Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/clif