2020 – How It Was In My Boat, by Jenelle Schultz
“I retained my u58 M1 title for the third year running and placed 4th in the u58 opens across the country.”
A friend in Victoria posted this earlier in the year and it really resonated with me.
By 2020 standards, I had a very good year. I kept my job, so did my husband, I didn’t have to quarantine or deal with long testing queues, Brisbane was not locked down for long, I wasn’t separated from family.
Overall, my boat is well afloat and watertight and I’m very grateful for that.
What changed for me most in 2020 was the way I train. Looking back to 2019 I had a great routine, 4 sessions a week at Steel & Stone (convenient, on the way home from work, every piece of equipment you can imagine), one face-to-face with my coach Graham, a fun team around me, routine, regular, organised.
My 2020 year started with a few curve balls …
2020 started with a few curve balls even before COVID. Graham moved interstate so I switched to online coaching, some of my teammates relocated to different gyms – I felt like I’d lost my tribe and therefore some of my lifting mojo. But I kept training, made new friends at Steel & Stone, and just kept moving forward in my slightly altered but mostly stable routine.
By mid-March, I was settled into my own ‘new normal’ and one week away from a local competition on the Gold Coast. I was really excited because it had turned into a mini-holiday – waterfront accommodation booked with a houseful of teammates and fellow lifters, a big night out after the comp planned with many burgers and espresso martinis on the menu. Graham was coming up from NSW to coach our team on the day – it was going to be a great weekend.
It had also been a really good prep for me – everything was moving well, and my last heavy deadlift was a snappy PB of 157.5kg, 2.7 times body weight.
Weekend away gone.
10 weeks of prep gone.
And in the next few days, gym closed.
Nowhere to train. No equipment.
Just stay home. Go for a walk… what?!
I’m a powerlifter!
How was I going to keep my Powerlifting training up?
Living in an apartment we had zero space to set up a gym – I’d made Steel & Stone my second home and happy place, but now I had to figure out how to keep training because there was no way I was losing that too!
After some brainstorming, my husband sacrificed his car space and parked out on the road, then we scavenged for what I’m sure was the last rack and bar in Brisbane, found some mats (also rare as hen’s teeth in April 2020!) and I borrowed some weights from the gym.
Sparkle Strength Studio was born!
Later came a custom bench, blocks and other equipment – being married to someone who can still fabricate things after years of being a desk jockey is a bonus.
Routine back on track – Work, Train, Eat, Sleep, Repeat!
By Easter my routine was back – work, train, eat, sleep, repeat… Training had always been my happy place, but it was a challenge to make it work in my new environment with limited equipment and without people around me. Slowly as the weeks ticked by, I came around to the idea that training alone did have its perks – my choice of music always, slippers during winter, dance breaks as needed. One of my close friends who lived nearby started training with me, which we hadn’t done together for years, so there was a lot of laughter and silliness which kept me going.
As we emerged in the middle of the year and gyms re-opened, I realised I’d grown to love the little space that was just mine, so I returned ‘part time’ to Steel & Stone, and continued to build up the studio at home.
It was funny to watch the reactions of some of our neighbours when they walked down to their cars during deadlift day, but they got used to the crazy woman throwing the weights around.
In August we decided to move to a house, and one of the must-haves was a large enclosed space for the gym.
The upgrade was fantastic – airconditioned, a coffee machine, bar fridge to keep the pre-workout chilled, a TV, a deadlift platform AND a toilet! It’s still growing and I’m always rearranging it…
I got to compete at the Powerlifting Australia National Championships!
My opportunity for competition in 2020 came in October, the PA national championships, where I added 8kg to my bench and 5kg to my overall total. I retained my u58 M1 title for the third year running and placed 4th in the u58 opens across the country.
I got to hang out with some of my lifelong lifting friends on the day too, and everything almost felt normal again. (pictured here: Melanie Lihou, Jenelle Schultz, Zoe Deeks, Jason Raby & Vanessa McDonald)
For this competition, I worked with Shelley Stark, my first experience handing over the reins for my nutrition, and her scientific but totally relaxed approach landed me at a magic 57.3kg on the day. I firmly believe in outsourcing nutrition, coaching, recovery, etc out to the experts so that I can just concentrate on lifting.
Going forward I doubt that 2021 will bring us any less challenges or changes – we’re all still in a storm, in different boats, but maybe we are better equipped to adapt and keep moving forward bit by bit, kg by kg.
My Powerlifting focus for 2021!
My lifting focus for 2021 is to have open goals, not fixed ones. By reframing ‘I want an 85kg bench’ into ‘I want to see how much I can add to my bench this year’ I know that I will achieve no matter the numeric outcome, and not be limited by my own projections and expectations.
I hope this approach will sustain me as a lifter through whatever else gets thrown my way.
Competition wise, I now have 3 coming up in the next 6 months, so I better go train…