Hi, I’m Gill Lomax, Head of Customer Experience for Manheim and I’m a powerlifter!
A few years ago, I wanted to improve my fitness and lose some weight and after I lost a fair few lbs, a friend recommended training as a great way to burn calories. So I started strength training with a coach at the gym and I was really surprised by how much I enjoyed it.
A little while later, my coach suggested I come along and watch him in a powerlifting competition where I realised that I was lifting heavier weights in the gym than the ladies who’d be in my class in the competition – and that’s when I first started picturing myself up on stage competing. But the idea of standing up in front of a room filled with strangers wearing a singlet was too daunting and I quickly dismissed the idea as a pipedream.
Around this time, I attended a Women With Drive event and was lucky enough to hear the guest speaker, Jo Salter who was the first female fighter pilot in British Airforce. She spoke with such passion about everything she’d overcome to become a trailblazer for women in the Airforce and it made me realise I was holding myself because I was afraid of failure – and of wearing that singlet! And so I was inspired to put those fears aside.
It was absolutely terrifying but also exhilarating, and after a little more training, I entered my first competition where I finished second! From there I went to the Regional Championship where I broke the Northwest regional record for in my weight and age category. After this it was time for my first national championship - the British Masters - where I came third. I returned the following year where (frustratingly) I came third again. I reminded myself of where I’d started and kept pushing to improve my technique, build my strength and stay resilient.
And I’m pleased to say that the hard work paid off because at this year’s British Masters, I came second which has led to me being selected for the World Powerlifting Championship in Mongolia this October!
It’s such an honour to be representing Great Britain and taking part in such a huge competition. The World Championship is basically like the Olympics of powerlifting – including opening and closing ceremonies which is really exciting.
During the competition there are three disciplines and you get three attempts at each – the Squat – I aim to get 160kg, the bench press – I’d love to improve on my current best of 85kgs, and the deadlift – my current max is 185kgs but I have a long-standing, ultimate goal of one day deadlifting 200kgs – and I. Will. Get. There.
The lifts are judged by three referees who will be checking against technical rules to ensure fairness for all lifters and that we’ve done everything right to move to the next stage.
I’m incredibly excited and nervous about competing in such a huge tournament and I can’t believe how far I’ve come in just a few years. Discovering this sport has been life-changing and has had such positive impacts in so many ways, who would have thought I’d get to represent my country aged 53?!
Physically I’m stronger (which comes in handy carrying shopping from the car into the house), it’s helped to ease perimenopause symptoms and should hopefully prevent osteoarthritis as I get older. Mentally is where I’ve seen the biggest difference. For one thing, I’m much more confident, and spending time with these incredible women who are all so supportive and encouraging has made me feel part of a community.
It’s also given me discipline and focus – I’m giving absolutely everything to achieving my goals. People often ask where I find my motivation, and I tell them “Motivation only gets you so far, discipline is what moves you forward” and that’s something I’ve found in every area of my life. I have powerlifting to thank for teaching me that lesson.
Competing on the world stage comes at a quite a hefty price (namely £5,000!) so if you’re willing and able to throw a few pennies in my gofundme, I’d really appreciate it (if you don’t ask, you don’t get!)
So, this October I’ll board a plane at Manchester airport, fly to Istanbul and catch a connecting flight to Mongolia for my first World Powerlifting Championship representing Great Britain. And I’m still working hard to prepare for the competition; keeping an eye on my nutrition, continuing my training regime and crucially, getting good sleep so I’m match-fit for Mongolia.
Wish me luck – I’ll let you know how I get on!