Jenelle Schultz – 2020 How It Was In My Boat

enelle Schultz at PA National Comp150x150

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.

How it was in my boat 2020

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.  Jenelle Schultz training deadlift 157.5kg

 

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.

Then lockdown.

Comp cancelled.

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!

Robert Schultz setting up Jenelle's home gym

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.

Jenelle Schultz home gym being set up

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.

Jenelle Schultz gym set up in new home Jenelle Schultz training bench in her home gym

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. Melanie Lihou, Jenelle Schultz, Zoe Deeks, Jason Raby, Vanessa McDonald at the Powerlifting Australia National Championships 2020

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.

Jenelle Schultz at PA National Comp 2020My 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…

 

 

Jenelle Schultz – from ‘Gym-Bunny’ to Oceania’s 2018 Champion!

Jenelle Schultz – from ‘Gym-Bunny’ to Oceania’s 2018 Champion!

Jenelle Schultz Powerlifter

 

I used to be your typical ‘gym-bunny’ – for most of my 30’s, daily workouts consisted of bodybuilding splits (light weight; high reps only) mixed with pump classes and spin classes. Cardio, cardio and more cardio, sometimes 2 classes a day, before and after work, along with every variation of diet or eating plan I could find, all to achieve the perfect sports model look.

Like 99% of humans on the planet, that combination didn’t actually work.  I didn’t look like a sports model and I was continually trying every type of new workout or exercise and/or diet I could find, looking for the magic combination. 

I don’t know whether turning 40 was some kind of tipping point – I have often heard that doing the same thing and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity, so I was probably keen to stop being nuts! I also had some nagging from a good friend to try powerlifting, so early in 2018 I turned up at yet another new gym and met Graham McDonald. The brave man agreed to give me shot at being a powerlifter, I’m still not sure why! I didn’t really fit into the powerlifting community – I don’t like heavy metal or donuts, and I have no tattoos, so I’m kind of a sparkly outlier – but the whole team embraced me anyway and my powerlifting adventures started from there.

Jenelle Schultz Powerlifter SquatMy first comp was in May 2018 up at Airlie Beach (North Queensland, Australia) – I was super nervous and so grateful to have the McDonald Strength team, along with my husband Rob there to cheer me on – I actually got a medal in my first competition, coming 3rd in the 63kg class.

From there I started to see significant changes in my body (remember, more muscle = more energy burnt!), and with some sensible nutrition I was able to go down into the 57kg class for Master’s Nationals 2018 where I won gold in my section.  I have great memories of that day, and that whole trip, where I got to share a flat and some great late night chats with my team mate Libby.Jenelle Schultz Powerlifter Bench

The Oceania Championships in December 2018 was my absolute amazing, proudest and most devastating day in powerlifting to date, all in one. The amazing part was that I not only got to wear the green and gold and again won my section, but also came 1st overall in Master’s Women with a total of 330kg (Wilks 384.52).  I also had half the crowd cheering me on as a lot of family and friends came to see me lift – one of my best friends even made me a sparkly sign! But I was devastated when I missed my last deadlift – 150kg came off the floor easy but I couldn’t lock it out. This was my first failed deadlift in a competition and I felt like I’d let everyone down very badly. I know that sounds silly when I won literally everything I was eligible to win on the day, but it’s a personal goal that I was really looking forward to nailing… more to come on that. Jenelle Schultz Powerlifter Deadlift

Oceanias was where I got to get more involved in the behind-the-scenes part of the sport too, by learning how to be involved on the technical desk, which also gave me a front row seat to the heavyweights session! I am also lined up to be a spotter & loader at an all-women competition later in the year.  That’s another thing about powerlifting – everyone helps out, which adds to the community spirit of the sport.

Training is now my happy place, rather than just where I got to try and burn calories – the focus that each session requires means that the day’s problems are soon forgotten once warm ups are done. And no matter what my day has been like, I know that I’ll get to go and do something amazing when I get to training – what sort of person puts double their own body weight on their back and crouches down then stands up with it?! It really helps me put things in perspective – i.e. if I can do that, then the bad meeting I had with my boss, the slow traffic or the HR issue I have to deal with probably isn’t going to break me.

Jenelle Schultz 2018 Oceania Best Womens Lifter

Life feels very different now that I’m a powerlifter (and yes, I identify myself like that often enough to bug people!) – I no longer pine after the sports model look, I eat carbs, I wear short shorts. Life is good. I feel like I have found my thing, and my people.

Of course I’m inspired by the superstars of powerlifting like Liz Craven and Marisa Inda – and more recently Jess Sewastenko – watching them always reminds me that any lift I attempt is actually possible. But I also love the diversity and opportunity for people of all shapes, sizes and ages to achieve.  I like to think that one day I’ll be an M5 lifter, still wearing sparkly stuff and listening to techo!

For now my next goal is to defend my title at Master’s Nationals 2019 in Cairns. I also have that missed 150kg deadlift to reclaim from Oceanias – it had better be getting it’s affairs in order.

Jenelle Schultz support crewI’m so happy that my story resonates… I can’t tell you just how much finding this sport has meant to me – the sense of purpose and belonging… hard to put into words but I hope I did it some justice… thankyou again for the opportunity to do this – it means a lot xxx – Jenelle Schultz