CA client Eli Halpin, an Alaska native, has lived a life of art and adventure. Now in Austin, she’s added fitness and Olympic weightlifting to her routine. Her blog follows.
I grew up in Alaska. My family spent most of our free time on the Kenai River fly fishing with grizzly bears and eagles. In the winter I went to school in the snow and drove on the ice. In middle school and high school, I was on the swim team, ski team and gymnastics team. And yes, it is light almost all night in the summer and almost all day in the winter. And yes, moose came right up to my bedroom window and let me look at their faces close-up. I told my dad, when I grow up I want to be an artist and he said I should pick something else. I told him I wanted to be a world traveler and he said I would need money for that and to pick something else. So I told him I wanted to be a waitress.
After high school, I studied art at the University of Alaska. Then I moved to Oregon to attend a fine arts school. I studied painting, drawing and sculpture. I began hanging up my paintings in restaurants and coffee shops and they were selling so fast that I ended up quitting art school to paint full time. Dropping out of school helped me afford a big warehouse for painting and welding and gave me time to do fun stuff like snowboarding and swimming in rivers and hot springs all over Oregon. I was able to quit my restaurant job and have been painting full time for 21 years. I have an art studio and gallery at Springdale General in building #10 right next to Central Athlete.
My interests are growing as many wildflowers as I can circling my house to attract butterflies and hummingbirds, feeding homeless cats and traveling to new countries. I also love muscles!
My goals at CA have been Olympic weightlifting and healing my body. It was not possible to address these two goals together before I arrived at the gym. The first day I walked in, I brought a lot of new and old injuries. My wrists wouldn’t function without spraining them often, my entire lower body and lower back hurt and I had sharp pains in many places along my spine and shoulders. I had mystery pains in my knees and I had a torn muscle in my calf, a sprained rib joint and torn cartilage in my hip. My hip surgeon recommended gaining muscle for stabilization to possibly avoid surgery. Physical therapy combined with Coach Steven’s program helped me build a foundation of strength before starting the oly (Olympic) lifts, which relieved all pain in my lower body. I had prescription foot insoles that I was able to wean off of, even though I was told by my doctors to wear them for the rest of my life to avoid the sharp pain in my feet and ankles. I have been working with Coach Steven for 2.5 years and I have almost zero pain in my body most of the time. I’m 46 years old and seem to be aging backwards. I carried a lot of these sore tender spots around for about 30 years and it feels bizarre in a good way to have them evaporate.
My biggest accomplishment since starting CA has been showing up. When I decided to start weightlifting, I knew I had to bring my work ethic and experience of being a self-employed person to the gym. From building my business, I know what consistency does. I understand the importance of habits and taking baby steps constantly. I know that to be successful most of the hard work happens behind the scenes when no one is watching. I know how to motivate myself and I know how to go to the gym when I can’t motivate myself. I don’t rely on motivation; it is truly undependable. Doing things when I don’t feel like it is how I have achieved my art career. And even when I have to grin through those sessions that feel like nothing is working right, I know that those moments are natural and they are supposed to be there. And all of the days always add up to the occasional super big win…the kind of wins that keep me smiling for a whole day and gift me with motivation.
I have been working toward competing in Olympic lifts. I had my first competition this year in February and am planning for my second in December.
If I had to describe my relationship with my coach in one word, I would say FUN. I appreciate Steven’s authenticity and patience, and he is also my friend. We are both lighthearted and intense people.