When I got started in Strongman training three years ago, I was quick to say, “Yeah, but I’m never going to be that good because I’m only five foot tall and 120 pounds.” Well, that excuse went out the window when I stumbled upon Rachel Pyron.
After seeing what waves this little powerhouse has made in the Strongman World, I’ve become an official Facebook stalker and founder of the Rachel Pyron Fan Club (okay, not really, but I should probably look into that….)
Rachel Pyron is what I would call a Pocket Hercules. She stands all of 4’11’’, 120lbs and holds more Strongman records than I have Strongman bruises (and I have a lot of bruises….damn Fingal Finger….)
Not only is Rachel a badass Strongwoman, but her take on body image and Strongman is quite possibly the best I’ve ever heard. Let me explain.
See, Rachel used to compete in Bodybuilding competitions. (Yep, the competitions where extremely tanned people stand in bathing suits on the stage and flex.) Those competitions, the culture and the extreme training lead to an eating disorder. One that took a toll both mentally and physically.
But then, Rachel found Strongman. “I can honestly say when I started strongman, something switched in my head. My relationship with food took a 180. Bodybuilding, I will never regret doing it, but I will struggle with self-image for the rest of my life.”
Rachel credits Strongman for her change in philosophy. Moving from purely aesthetic reasons for working out to working out for performance. “When I started Strongman, I just wanted to get stronger. Training was exciting and fun and instead of two hours on the stair master and tricep kickbacks, I started lifting logs, deadlifting and gained a whole new respect for my body and started eating for performance and to fuel my goals.” And fuel her performance she has. Rachel has continually won Strongman competitions, taken home trophies and crushed records (I watched her video of her log pressing 180# the other day. Let that sink in a minute….)
Rachel has competed three times at the Arnold Strongman Classic. (For those of you that don’t know, The Arnold’s are an annual strongman competition featuring athletes from all over the world – it’s kind of a big deal.) And this year, she let go of the self-doubt that has stayed with her and instead, channeled it into placing fourth in the Lightweight Women class and earning her Pro Card. (Umm, wow.)
“In this year’s Arnold prep, I learned a lot about just letting go. Trusting. And most importantly, to believe in myself. I struggle with self-doubt and often have a lack in confidence. And this time, I told myself I deserved to be on that stage. We all do, we all deserve to achieve what we put our time, effort and heart into. Pay attention to the messages you send yourself. How often do we tear ourselves apart? Worry about the fat on the back of our legs, thinking every fitness model on Instagram has their shit together, trust me they don’t. And social media is far, far away from reality. Life is much different when you focus on sending yourself love. Believe and learn from each experience and little by little things come together.”
Rachel is really the poster child for Strongwomen everywhere and is a wonderful role model for women starting out in the Strongman world. She doesn’t use her height, weight or past with eating disorders as a crutch and excuse for why she can’t succeed in Strongman. She just works her butt off in the gym to be the best she can be. She’ll be the first to tell you, “When you have competed in a bodybuilding show, or have gone through a weight loss transformation of some kind, the weight gain and struggles that follow are something else. And no one talked about it.” But Rachel is right there showing that strength training (and Strongwoman) is a wonderful way to use working out for performance rather than just solely for bathing suit weather…and that’s something we should all applaud.
Rachel and I share a love for Strongman and what it has done for our bodies, health, strength and mindset. And she’s quick to tell you what it’s done for her. “That is why I love strongwoman and strength training so much. A constant challenge to get better, to get stronger, to feel more confident and to feel like everything I am working so hard for is paying off. And along the way, meeting some of the closest friends I have ever had.”
In a crazy world of photoshopping, skinny-fat models and unreal expectations, Rachel is just one of those girls that “gets it.” She understands the bigger picture. She gets that our bodies are amazing works of biology that can do incredible things. And she’s there putting up the numbers, the trophies and records to prove it.
Q&A with Rachel:
Q: What Strongman records do you hold?
A: NAS LW Max Log record with 176# (I would like to compete again to beat this)
NAS LW Log Clean and Press Away for Reps in 60 seconds (15 reps with 120#)
NAS Axle Clean and Press for reps I am tied with Stefanie Tropea
Q: Are you comfortable with your body now?
A: There are always things I would like to change like anyone else, but yes, I am very blessed and thankful for my health and strength.
Q: Proudest accomplishment?
Definitely placing top 4 at the Arnold 2016
Q: Favorite strongman event?
Q: What do you listen to when you lift?
A: A random mix honestly, I don’t rely on music too much. But usually Mariah Carey, Beyonce, Rob Bailey (I know, random)
Q: Where do you keep your Arnold trophy?
A: At my desk at work
Q: What’s Next for You?
A: Planning on the World’s Strongest Woman event in Jacksonville, Florida in August. There are so many contests all over the country I would love to take part in! Unfortunately it just isn’t always possible to do but just a few each year, but I am so excited to see so many opportunities for men and women.
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