MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) - La’Toya Atterberry is relatively new to powerlifting – her first competition was in April 2017. Yet, she’s quickly demonstrating her partiality to the sport. Atterberry not only won that initial competition in Huntsville, Alabama, but she’s since been named the 2018 Female Lifter of the Year and Best Female 2018 Tournament of Champion Winner within her federation (WNPF).
However, Atterberry did not seek powerlifting success initially – she began weight training with coach Demetrius Hill in order to combat high blood pressure and lose weight.
“The doctor said I needed to do something to lose the weight or else I would die,” Atterberry said.
Under Hill’s coaching Atterberry lost 30 pounds in two months from weight training and eating healthier and she also began contemplating competing.
“She found out I was doing girls powerlifting [at Meridian High School] and she got in that mindset of ooh I can do what those girls doing but at, you know, at her age – for her age,” said Hill.
Atterberry experienced success from the onset.
“He joked around like, ‘You know, you’re strong.’ You know and I said, ‘Well, let’s try and compete’ because he was the powerlifting coach for the high school,” she said. “We signed up and I won and it just went from there.”
She’s since competed in six more competitions and gone on to have global success. Atterberry holds the state, national and world squat, deadlift and bench records in the Women’s Masters SHW (age 40-44) division. Her coach attributes her success to her work ethic.
“When it’s time to compete, she wants to be the best at it so she really works at it and you know, it’s being disciplined,” he said. “She works hard so it makes my job easy…she’s very driven.”
Her successes have come second to the physical and mental health benefits she’s experienced.
“I’ve gone from seeing a heart doctor every other week –twice a month – to twice a year…It’s like a new me and powerlifting – or just lifting weights period – I don’t know it fuels like anything, the struggle, anything that I’m going through at work or with the medicine or my health – it’s like my go-to to kind of release everything that’s going on with me.”
And perhaps an unintended consequence, Atterberry is helping change the narrative of women in the weight room.
“You can’t let it intimidate you cus most people – men in the gym – think you can’t do this, you know, you shouldn’t be doing this. So that’s my challenge: to show people that anybody can do it.”
Atterberry is currently preparing for her 2019 competitions.