Registration and Weigh In at venue site 8am Saturday morning.
Thursday, May 22, 2014
Wednesday, May 21, 2014
Petite powerhouse Bayleigh Gentieu, a Walter Johnson Middle School sixth grader, takes interest in a hobby that is strikingly different from other 11-year-old girls … powerlifting.
Gentieu, who weighs 115 pounds, currently holds 32 state and national records through Iron Boy Powerlifting competitions.
Bayleigh’s father Greg Gentieu, who teaches a physical fitness class for Basic Law Enforcement training at Western Piedmont Community College, said he began bringing Bayleigh to the class when she was around 6 years old.
“She would do push-ups and sit-ups, and everyone would say, ‘you need to get her into power lifting,’” he said, adding that she completed a challenging obstacle course in 10 minutes while wearing full police gear, beating three of the recruits.
“Her dead-lift record right now is 210 pounds,” he said. “She likes to improve and break records.”
Bayleigh also participates in the push/pull, bench press, strict curl and one-arm dumbbell press events.
Greg said Bayleigh was diagnosed with epilepsy at 5 years old, but that it does not affect her lifting or slow her down. She began competing at 10 years old and is a member of Flex Gym in Morganton’s powerlifting team.
“(Lifting) keeps her mind focused and keeps her occupied,” he said. “She still goes and hangs out with her friends. We’re not in front of the TV or the computer or playing video games. We go and hangout with the power (lifting) teammates.”
Greg said he takes Bayleigh to the gym one to two times a week for training, but that they work around her softball practices and games.
Bayleigh was manager for the Walter Johnson softball team and plays both recreation and travel softball. She also is a member of Student Council and maintains A’s and B’s in her classes.
“There really isn’t a big demand for female powerlifters,” Greg said. “It shows her dedication and hard work, that’s for sure. When she’s able to do this, it’s great for her confidence, and it makes her independent. Whatever she needs to do, she can do on her own.”
Greg said Bayleigh has competed in several places throughout the state, including Charlotte, Concord and Gastonia, and she has also traveled to South Carolina for a competition.
“Our house is loaded with trophies and medals,” he said. “We don’t have any room for them all.”
Greg has also posted some of Bayleigh’s powerlifting videos on YouTube, so that their distant family members can watch her competitions online.
Bayleigh said she became interested in powerlifting when one of her friends said they were participating in a competition and suggested she try it as well.
“It really is what makes me unique, because not really a lot of girls do it,” she said. “(At) some of these competitions, you (only) have one or two girls. Their goal is to get more girls in the gym.”
Bayleigh said she recently convinced her 9-year-old sister Savannah to take an interest in the hobby as well.
“She just did her first competition a couple weeks ago,” Bayleigh said. “I am very excited to share my weightlifting with (my sister).”
Although she has a busy schedule and juggles multiple activities, Bayleigh said she somehow handles it all just fine.
“I find a balance just by managing my time,” she said. “People (may) think that me, my dad and my sister just live at the gym, but we only go two or three days a week.”
Bayleigh said she thinks lifting will be a hobby she sticks with for a long time.
“I think I’ll be keeping up with weightlifting,” she said. “I wouldn’t have (come this far) if it wasn’t for my family encouraging me, (my) friends helping me along the way and my softball team helping me (by) saying kind words to me.”