You could call the Nerings the family that lifts together.
This Saturday, the Squamish family will be heading to Vancouver to compete in the UBC Weightlifting and Powerlifting Club’s New Year’s Championships after weeks of training.
Dad Marc had been powerlifting since his teens but had an on-again, off-again affair with the sport.
“It’s just in the last few years that I’ve gotten more serious,” he says.
About four years ago, son Lukas came across Marc’s weights and started lifting, prompting Marc to get back involved.
Then Lukas’s girlfriend, Emma Gilchrist, started lifting around the same time. As well, mom Betty began to powerlift too, though she had lifted weights.
In powerlifting, athletes take part in three categories: squat, bench and deadlift.
To train, Marc adapted a garage at the family’s home to make a home gymnasium.
At present, the youngest children take part in other sports, with Ava in gymnastics and Matthew in soccer.
So far, the local lifters have had some highlights. The gym holds some of Marc’s awards. He even set four records for his age group at his first competition since getting back into the sport.
“Since then, every one of my records has been broken,” he says with a laugh.
Gilchrist has been competing at events in the province and set records for each category. Someone then beat her bench and deadlift records soon after, though her squat record still stands.
“I’m going to try to beat my own squat record,” she says.
Lukas is relatively new to competition, as he has spent a lot of time on the gridiron playing football. This past fall, he was the key offensive weapon out of the backfield for Howe Sound Secondary’s Sounders. (His Howe Sound teammate Alex Domingo also trains with Lukas and Emma at Mountain Fitness Center and is competing at UBC. Another local, Tonya Motyka, is also signed up for the competition.)
Lukas’s goal going in is to set a new provincial bench press record, though he will have to better the mark set by another Squamish athlete, Kailen Smith.
For Betty, who has a background in nursing, she says the workout helps keep her fit and strong because she has to do some lifting in her job.
“I needed to get strong for that,” she says. “I did it for safety.”
It is clear though she likes taking part in the sport for its own sake and has been able to increase her numbers by 10 pounds.
“It’s almost scientific. It’s incremental,” she says, adding, “We’re all excited about the competition.”
For the UBC event, the family has been training to get ready. As Marc says, training usually starts with more reps early on, but as competition gets closer, it means heavier loads and fewer reps as well as concentrating on priming one’s central nervous system.
They have been all using the Candito 6-Week Strength-Training Program, which sets out goals on how much weight and how many reps to do on specific days through the week.
“That’s the one we’ve all been doing,” Lukas says. “It’s an Excel spreadsheet.”
Marc and Betty have gone through the system two times in anticipation, while Lukas and Emma have recently switched to the Smolov Junior Program, which is aimed at younger lifters.
The UBC event on Jan. 14 is sanctioned by the British Columbia Powerlifting Association, which is a member of the International Powerlifting Federation.
The meet is limited to 50 competitors and filled up almost immediately after registration began. Athletes will be competing in sub-junior, junior, open and master classes. Powerlifters also compete by weight class.
As Marc says, many of the competitors are serious and bring along a coach, whereas his family and his son’s girlfriend take on the responsibility for their own training.
“We just coach ourselves,” he adds.