independent

Sunday 18 August 2019

Off to lift weights with the Russians

INSPIRATIONAL TALE OF SANDRA AND OTHERS

CONOR CULLEN

SANDRA GOODISON has gone from a 'sluggish' 40year-old to being invited to train with elite Russian athletes in the space of less than three years.

The Wexford woman's transformation came about as a result of her enthusiasm for a cast iron weight that looks like a cannonball.

Sandra (42), from Coolcotts, started kettlebell training at Total Fitness Systems in Westpoint, Clonard, when she was 40-years-old.

The mother-of-three said she was looking ahead at the time. 'I was overweight, sluggish, a bit tired and a bit lazy,' was Sandra's frank assessment of her situation then.

'I realised it's important for women to put on a bit of muscle - it's the best anti ageing product there is!' said Sandra, who is a good advertisement for the product.

It was a slow start for her, but crucially it was enjoyable so she stuck with it. 'When I first started I wasn't able to lift the eight kilo kettlebell above my head. But I took to it,' said Sandra. 'It's not boring - it's the only kind of exercise I've ever stuck to.'

She said she enjoys the fact that you are using free weights, not machines, and that your whole body is engaged in all the movements. A bit of craic when you're exercising doesn't hurt either.

' There's a good social aspect to it as well, we're always slagging each other and having fun during the classes,' said Sandra.

She has seen great results from it too. 'My whole shape has changed,' she said, adding that she has lost a lot of weight, including the ' baby weight' she had always found so hard to shift, but not turned into a bodybuilder in the process!

Sandra joked that as she got very interested in the kettlebell lifting initially her mother warned her 'don't let your arms get any bigger'. However, she said that this is one of the misconceptions about kettlebell lifting, which is as very much about endurance and strength, but is far removed from body building.

Around 70 top lifters gathered in Kilkenny recently for an international competition, with competitors coming from the likes of Croatia, Slovenia and Slovakia.

It was Sandra's first time competing as she joined instructor Mick Kelly, of Total Fitness Systems, and five others on a team from the Wexford gym. However, she was their outstanding performer.

'I became the first Irish woman to receive a rank of CMS,' said Sandra, explaining that this means Candidate of Master for Sport, a top level in the kettlebell world.

Sandra was lifting a 20 kilo kettlebell and had to achieve more than 102 reps of the challenging clean and jerk lift in 10 minutes to get to the coveted CMS level. She managed 118.

'It was my first competition and I was nervous because I was thinking "what if I drop it" or mess it up somehow. But adrenaline takes over once you take hold of the bell and you forget about all the spectators,' she said.

Overall, the Wexford team of seven secured 11 medals in Kilkenny and their excellent result was noted as far afield as Russia!

A Russian world champion who held a workshop at Total Fitness Systems in January was so impressed by the results that he has invited instructor Mick, Sandra and her fellow Wexford town woman Catherine Roche to travel to go join their national team's training camp for a few days.

Sandra notes that it's a huge honour as Russia is the home of kettlebell lifting and a key part of the training regimes of many teams and organisations there, including the special forces.

'When he saw what we had achieved as a club he invited us to train with the national team - they are the best lifers in the world,' she said.

Sandra said the trip will be expensive, but that it's ' too good an opportunity to be missed' and the trio are doing a bit of fundraising to try offset the costs, but they could be paying a visit to the Credit Union yet! They are due to join the Russian national team from May 12 to 16.

Sandra said her family - husband Liam, daughter Alanna (14) and 12-year-old twin sons Darragh and Eoghan - think her enthusiasm for kettlebell lifting is great.

Darragh and Eoin were delighted to hear that she'd been invited to train with the Russian national team, telling their mother: ' That's like Alex Ferguson calling us to go over and train with Manchester United!'

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