Throwing Some Serious Weight Around

The USPA Powerlifting Meet

WORDS BY: ASHLEY BERMUDEZ
PHOTOS BY: EDWARD SINGLETON

Metroflex Gym in Long Beach is home to many elite athletes and competitors. It is known worldwide and is one of the most photographed gyms in the fitness industry. On the first weekend of October, it hosted the bi-annual United States Powerlifting Association Powerlifting meet, where over 100 men and women participated.

Located inside an old school warehouse, this gym isn’t your typical air-conditioned, clean carpeted, locker-room establishment – which means, when the sun is burning, the heat indoors is unforgiving. Now, how’s that for a sauna?

Still, on the morning of Saturday, Oct. 1, competitors and supporters filtered in to push some heavy weight around. Hundreds of people attended the event to witness what is an extreme sport. Powerlifting consists of three majors lifts – squat, bench press and deadlift. Competitions are organized by weight class and rated by an overall lift total.

From 16- to 77-year-old competitors, this sport is for those who love to push boundaries and test their limits. Local senior Norma Imoto not only participated in the weekend event, but, at 77 years-old, she set both state and national records for the women’s 48kg master 75-79 division in the USPA. The crowd cheered as she successfully deadlifted 154 pounds and bench pressed 72 pounds.

Weighing in at 196 pounds, 23-year-old Jose Garcia solidified his first-place ranking with a 1,731-pound overall score, which combines his squat, bench press and deadlift tallies. Alberto Toriz, a 26-year-old in the super heavyweight division, walked away with the heaviest squat that day at 722 pounds, and he also performed the heaviest deadlift at 694 pounds.

The gym was filled with fans cheering on each competitor. The support from the crowd was palpable and gave the extra push to those struggling at the knees who needed to execute their lift.

Long Beach State student Maggie Delgado competed in the meet and placed first in the 67.5 kg weight division. While she may not participate in school sports, she is a rising and respected athlete in the powerlifting community. The 22-year-old totaled 794 pounds with a 386-pound deadlift. Her game-face may be intimidating, but Delgado was all smiles after each lift.

The powerlifting meet ended with a barbecue held in the parking lot with fresh burgers and hot dogs – well-deserved meals for the competitors and those who withstood the heat to contribute an encouraging shout.