It was worth the wait and definitely worth the weight for Steven Reade to get back into the gym to train for powerlifting competition.
Reade, 52, a Chemainus resident since 2015, had a long hiatus from the time he first took up the sport between 1992 and 1996 and returning to it in 2015. It’s clearly been a triumphant return, culminating in national supremacy for him in the Masters 2 category at the Canadian Powerlifting Union Championships in his old stomping grounds of Ottawa.
Reade started doing research again in 2014 about powerlifting options and found a lot had changed during his time out of the sport.
“I initially tried to find the old Federation I competed in and they were gone,” he indicated.
The CPU is currently one of many of the International Powerlifing Federation’s national affiliate organizations around the world.
Powerlifting has three component lifts – bench press, squat and dead lift – and differs from Olympic weightlifting that consists of the snatch and clean-and-jerk lifts and might be more familiar to most people.
Reade grew up in Dorval, Quebec and spent 24 years in the military before retiring from service in 2012. He moved around a lot during that time – from Calgary to Edmonton to Kingston, Ont. and then Ottawa.
Reade was deployed four times to Afghanistan, twice to Bosnia and once to Kosovo during those years.
“Once I left Ottawa, I was retired,” Reade noted.
He’s now employed with Island Health in Nanaimo and married to Chemainus’ famous postmaster, Lavona Reade.
When Reade met Lavona and they were married in 2015, that’s what led him to relocate to Chemainus.
Reade said he played a bit of soccer and the normal high school sports while growing up. A geography teacher got him interested in lifting, but the training regimen was totally different than today.
“You didn’t have mainstream gyms like you do now,” Reade pointed out.
“Lifting weights was something I liked to do for recreation and to stay in shape.”
He caught the bug to compete in powerlifting, partly from his military experiences during that four-year period in the 1990s in Alberta.
“After 1996, just too many lower back injuries – like muscle spasms and stuff like that,” Reade said resulted in his exit from the sport.
He continued to do strength training over the years and found you can go back to something from long ago again despite advancing age.
Reade began with B.C. Powerlifting Association competitions just for the bench press.
“I wanted to get my other lifts up to par better,” he said.
Reade found out the sport had really taken off again and was anxious to get more serious about it again. “It’s a ton of people,” he noted.
Registrations for BCPA events were selling out in a matter of 30 minutes.
“It’s a huge uprising in the sport which I think is awesome,” said Reade.
He first utilized Chemainus’ Anytime Fitness as his training base but now has a gym in his home, perfectly set up for his needs.
Reade’s trek to the national Masters 2 93-kilogram title began during the 2018 Provincials at Surrey’s Clayton Heights Secondary School in June. He went on to compete in the Westerns in Edmonton in September before heading to Ottawa.
Reade made a first-place sweep, but didn’t go into the three events worrying about the competition.
“It’s going for my goals and it’s me against the bar,” he explained. “You’ve got to grab that bar and grab that weight and be able to do it.”
Reade said he enjoys “the challenges of taking on goals that you set for yourself and see if you can achieve them.”
During the nationals, he attained a personal best of 202.5 kilograms in the squat, had a top bench press of 170 kg but missed a shot at a possible Canadian record and set a B.C. record of 255 kg in the dead lift for his class.
Reade is cautiously optimistic of continuing to push the bar just slightly higher, with the ongoing help of a chiropractor and massage therapy to keep the body going.
“I’m one injury away from retirement,” he grinned.
“I’m going to plan on going to provincials in June and play it by ear from there.”