From Land to Water and Iron: Meet Teresa – Living Proof That All Women Can Strength Train

When you meet her you’ll know.

A big ball of bright energy, Teresa is one who will capture your heart with her charisma and attitude. Don’t mistake her stature for her uncanny ability to out perform you in everything, she can undoubtedly pull her weight, and more, literally.

Teresa was kind enough to let us pick her brain and tell her story. Her participation in sports through life growing up, how she came to find Dragon Boat, and how she stumbled upon her strength in the gym. In our eyes, she’s the perfect role model for all the ladies out there who struggle with the misconception that being physically strong means looking like a man-lady. She’s living proof that all women can strength train.

Enter Teresa.



1. Let’s jump right into it. How did you get into sports and athletics? How did it all begin?

When I was a kid I participated in various track and field events such as the 400m, 800m, 1500m, and 4x100m relay.

In elementary school, I was one of the fastest girls in my grade and won the track and field award in grade 7. I continued competing in cross-country and track throughout high school. Training for track and field meant going to school early for practice, and staying after school for practice.


2. Is this where your introduction to athletic training and performance began?

My high school team was divided by events and had various coaches focus for different events. My favourite was interval training for the 800m. This consisted of 200m in 30s, and jogging the rest of the lap for 8 rounds, or until my time increased too much. In grade 9, I placed 2nd in the 800m event and 3rd in the 1500m event at the York Region Indoor Championships, which qualified me to compete in the OFSAA Central Region for both events. That was the peak of my track career. I continued to compete, but never qualified for OFSAA during the rest of high school.


3. Track and Field is a very individualized sport. How did you get into team sports before you stumbled into one like Dragon Boat?

My love for track started to fade by grade 11, and I decided I wanted to learn a team sport. I dropped by a few Ultimate Frisbee practices and decided to join the team. It was definitely less competitive than what I was used to, but it was so great having a team instead of competing on your own. We had practices once or twice a week and played against other schools. I really liked this sport, so I looked into the Toronto Ultimate Club, which organizes games throughout GTA.

I messaged the coach of the only team in my area that was open (Sugoi) and dropped by to their practices in the summer. Since I enjoyed practices with them, I joined their team and played Ultimate Frisbee once a week against other teams in the GTA. I learned a lot from the coaches on this team and began to really understand the plays involved in this sport. I continued to play with them whenever I was in Toronto for tournaments, but since I was always in Waterloo on school term in the summer, I didn’t get a lot of chances to play in the regular season.



4. Do you remember your first time going to the gym? What was it like?

The summer after high school was the first time I entered a gym. The biggest reason was because I had nothing else to do and thought that some extra fitness would be fun. I had no idea what I was doing in the gym. I went to some group exercise classes and did some cardio activities. I also did exercises with some of the cable machines and free weights. But basically, I didn’t know anything.


5. How did you get introduce to Dragon Boat? Has the sport changed you in any way?

When I started school at the University of Waterloo, I joined the school’s Dragonboat Club (UWDBC) and I enjoyed it a lot. Joining the club was one of the best things I did during my undergrad. The people I met through the club are great and it’s always nice to have friends with are down to hit the gym with you on a regular basis. But more importantly, friends who don’t get intimidated by what you can do at the gym and fears looking bad when you go to the gym together. It was also a really good break from doing assignments, preparing for class and studying for exams.

I started seriously lifting when Viking Strength Systems was introduced to UWDBC in the fall of 2012. Although I frequented the gym prior to this, and I’ve tried to various exercises… I really had no idea what I was doing. Thinking back, there was no structure, no program… no plan. I didn’t have any goals. VSS has changed that.


6. Strength Training is unsettling and voodoo to most women. How would you describe your experience since you’ve adapted the strength training philosophy?

My body changed very quickly since I started training with VSS. Family and friends were commenting on my training. Some of these comments were encouraging, but not all of them were. I loved the workouts and was always excited to for the next one. One of the biggest struggles were the negative comments I received from people who were close to me. Instead of encouraging me to become better and stronger, they told me all the time I spent in the gym would make me gross looking. VSS helped me get over this hurdle and I have never looked back. After a couple more months, the negative comments stopped.


7. What is your plan now and moving forwards in terms of physical fitness, health and performance?

Now I go into the gym with a program, with short term and long term goals, and the most important part is having a plan to achieve those goals. In the summer of 2013, one of my goals was to be able to do one pull-up (because I thought they were really cool). By having a goal, and having a plan on how to achieve that goal, I can now hit 7-10 pull-ups. Some of the other goals include a 300+ lb deadlift, and also, I’m working on improving my diet.



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