Ruth has been a member of CS&C since October 2018. She is one of our most consistent members. She hasn’t missed a single training session since she joined! That’s 136 straight sessions. Not only that, Ruth makes the 15-mile hike from Rolling Meadows to train with us! Ruth’s easy smile and easy laugh make her a true joy to be around.
Tell us a little about yourself…
I am a licensed CPA working as Audit Senior Director in a national public accounting firm. Been married to my husband Ben for almost 20 years. I love to spoil my nephews and nieces, but I also give them tough love when needed.
What was your exercise history before Chicago S&C?
When I was in the Philippines, I used to climb mountains and scuba dive. So to get “fit” I did some cardio, aerobics, stair climbing and brisk walking. I also had limited exposure to weight training through dumb bells. I was on and off exercise. Once I came to the U.S., I did Zumba, aerobics, boot camps and other classes that fit my schedule. These exercises did not provide a way to measure progress, so I got bored after a few months. Then stop and then go back to exercising again.
How did you end up at Chicago S&C?
I always knew I wanted to be strong and continue to be independent even when I get old. In early 2018, I read a few blogs about how strength training delays the loss of muscle mass for people over the age of 40. But for a woman like me, exercising with free weights in the gym seemed intimidating as the free weights area is mostly filled with men. Then I came across a blog written by a woman about learning how to lift weights using barbell. In her blog, she mentioned the book Starting Strength. I bought the book, read it with much focus on how to do the lifts. Between late April and early August I did things on my own in a commercial gym. Looking at my training log, I only did 20 training sessions. Yes – I did not do the program as described in the book! During that “self-taught” period, I knew my form was way off. I stalled or I failed in the lifts. I needed a coach who knows the lifts described in the book. Finally, in October 2018, I contacted Chicago S&C which I found through the Starting Strength Coaches directory. I came in for an Intro Barbell Clinic with Coach Karl.
What are your current personal bests and where did you start?
- Squat: 47.5x5x3
- Bench: 25x5x3
- Deadlift: 65×5
- Press: 22.5x5x3
- Squat: 65x5x3; 72×5; 86×1
- Bench: 37x5x3
- Deadlift: 99×5; 105×1
- Press: 29x5x3; 32.5×1
What is your favorite lift and why?
My favorite is deadlift. It’s a natural movement for me to pick up things from the ground. This was also the first barbell lift that I learned, and spent more time learning compared to other lifts. This is also the one where I could lift the heaviest.
How has barbell training made a difference in your life?
About six weeks after I started training at CS&C, I began to setup my basement gym. I carried the equipment I bought from Rogue down to our basement. These consisted of 210-lb set of plates, 20-kg bar, 15-kg bar, bench, vertical plate tree, 3-bar gun rack, mini deadlift jack and change plates. That was a lot of work on a Saturday afternoon, but I was able to carry them all to our basement! I knew I had the strength to move those stuff from our garage to the basement.
Carrying grocery bags from the car to our house can now be done one time. Putting a loaded carry-on bag to an airplane’s overhead compartment? No sweat.
How is strength training different than what you did before for exercise?
Strength training allows or I should say – requires me to focus, be deliberate in my movement, cues in mind as I lift in order to stay in proper form. This was a totally different approach compared to what I previously did for exercise. Back then I could watch the TV in the gym, look at what other people are doing while I was doing my exercise. I did not pay attention to my form as long as I am burning calories by sweating. But then I did not get strong.
What would you say to someone who is unsure about starting a barbell strength training program?
If you want to get strong (and you should!), barbell training is the most effective way to get there. It will not break your back or crush you. Do not get intimidated by the bar and the plates. Treat them as allies in your quest for strength. Getting strong has never been simpler. Do the lifts in one training session, recover, add weight on the next one. Repeat. The concept of stress recovery and adaptation was such an enlightenment for me!