Pull For Pride Athlete Vanessa Gale: "Love Is Limitless, And I Refuse To Hide In The Shadows."
Name: Vanessa “PrettySTRONG” Gale
Pronouns: I, Me, They, Them, You, She, Her.
Pull for Pride location: Atlanta, GA
Favorite song to listen to while training: Favorite Artist currently: Wardruna
Favorite post-training meal: sushi and a cider
How do you identify? Tell us a little about yourself:
I identify as Vanessa Gale.
I happen to be a polyamorous, bisexual woman.
I’m a mother of a toddler, a doctor of chiropractic, a powerlifting coach, and on a mission to help people tap into their authentic selves by bringing more awareness to their bodies through reorganizational healing.
What does Pull for Pride mean to you and what's motivating you to participate?
I was drawn to participate in this event because my partners and I recently came out to our families about being polyamorous. And while it was freeing, it’s been tense and difficult for our parents to accept. On the other hand, my peers have been overwhelmingly supportive and I want to give back to the LGBTQ+ community for paving the way.
Love is limitless, and I refuse to hide in the shadows to love whoever I want to love. My goal in doing this meet is to bring about more awareness of different types of modern families and showing the world there is greater happiness in being authentic.
When did you begin barbell training and what inspired you to start?
I was originally inspired to powerlift after my first trip to the Arnold Sports Festival. I was there to compete in Kettle bell (GS) Long Cycle. After my competition was over, one of my partners at the time said, “Let’s go watch some powerlifting.” My mindset immediately shifted from lifting light weight many times to lifting a ton of weight one time. It just seemed like more fun to me. I never really looked back after that.
What do you find fulfilling about training?
I also enjoy coaching a group of newer lifters and seeing their movement patterns improve week to week. I like PRETTY lifts… it’s not always about being the strongest lifter in the room. It’s about being the lifter with the most attention to detail because that is the lifter that will have the longest, healthiest career in this sport. Talented people come and go, but disciplined people stick around and stay healthy.
What do you find challenging?
I find it most challenging to give up time with my daughter to train. After a long day at work, I want to see her, play with her, and just enjoy every minute of this adorable toddler phase. I am lucky to have amazing partners and family to help me achieve my lifting and momming goals.
I still sometimes find it challenging to go to meets with multiple partners because not everyone knows or understands polyamory. I don’t expect everyone to get it. My partners are lifters too, so when we are all together it can be tough for people to understand our dynamic. This is completely normal for us, and I find myself wanting to say things like,
“I’m not cheating on my husband.”
“Yes, he’s also my partner.”
“Yes they know about each other.”
“We’re actually all friends.”
“Our daughter is lucky to have so many loving adults in her life.”
“She is not confused by our situation.”
“You might be though, so feel free to ask more questions.”
But more often than not, people don’t ask. They just assume the worst and gossip. So that is challenging, and I hope to shine some light on the world of possibilities within polyamory.
What message or advice do you have for folks who might want to start strength training but aren't sure how or where to begin?
It’s more important than fancy lifting shoes, belts, wraps, gear, etc. Also, short rant: PROGRAMMING is NOT COACHING. Coaching is systematic and needs to be a synergistic relationship between the athlete and the coach.
Another tip: Hire a coach who has a coach. Someone who thinks they can look at their own training without emotion attached is kidding themselves. It’s ok to trust the process and let the mad scientist make a plan for you to just execute.
If you are trans and/or queer, do you have any words of encouragement or insights for other trans and queer folks for navigating gym environments and approaching training?
Authenticity is the sexiest thing I’ve ever laid eyes on. Overcoming the fear of rejection and hate is tough. I know I fear telling some people in the gym who my partners are for fear of being judged, but you know what I fear worse? I fear marginalizing myself, and my partners to just “fit in” to the heteronormative nuclear family model. We fit in better when we stand out! So stand up strong with your deadlifts, people!
Do you have any advice or encouragements for cisgender and straight allies who want to help make the gym a more welcoming space for trans and queer folks?
Do you have a strength role model(s) in your life (this could be strength training or strength in other ways)?
What I can say here is that I look up to the people that smash gender roles by embracing whom they feel they truly are. The people that don’t fear changing their identity are the ones brave enough to change and continue to grow, while the others remain stuck in a cycle of complacency.
To avoid singling out specific person/s, I just want to suggest that if you look up to someone, tell them. Even if it’s for the smallest thing, letting someone know they lifted you to the next level, lifts them to the next level as well, and the cycle spirals upwards instead of on loop. Don’t idolize anyone, and learn from everyone. Be curious and genuinely interested in others because growth only happens when you step out of your box. Challenge yourself to be uncomfortable at times. I know answering these questions has my heart beating very fast knowing this is going out to social media land, but I have to practice what I preach.
Authenticity is HOT. Be unapologetically you.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?