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Women’s History Month: Toussaint competes in power lifting

There is no shortage of  displays of strength at St. Louis U. High as hundreds of student athletes step on the court and field to start their spring sports. This month, however, we celebrate the success and strength of women in the SLUH community for Women’s History Month. Modern and Classical Languages Department chair Kate Toussaint, though she doesn’t flaunt it, is an incredible model of strength and determination through her involvement with competitive powerlifting.

Toussaint celebrating her medal. Selfie I Kate Toussaint

Last year, Toussaint won a gold medal for first in her age/weight category in a competition for the United States Powerlifting Association, and her personal records are to be marveled at. She currently stands at a 187.1 squat, 110.2 bench, and 203.9 deadlift.

“I’m stronger than I think,” said Toussaint. “I think I can’t lift something, and then I can. It’s amazing for me the connection between when we tell ourselves we can’t do something, and the reality is of course we can.”

Toussaint began powerlifting as a way to recover in her physical and mental health after the birth of her son. 

“It's been important for me and for my mental health, and so when my son was maybe a year and a half old, I just needed something else,” said Toussaint.

Very early on, powerlifting became a way for Toussaint to combat the negative stereotypes and mindsets that were prevalent in her teenage years.

“I was a teenage girl in the 1990s,” said Toussaint. “There was a lot of focus on being skinny, and that was a huge thing. I was kind of realizing that it’s obviously a very toxic message for anybody. I have a ten-year-old daughter, so when she was like three or four, I just thought I shouldn’t be thinking these things about my own body and what I should look like.”

Breaking into the community of lifting, especially as a woman, was a daunting task for Toussaint, especially as she was battling these stereotypes.

“Sometimes certain gyms can be really intimidating for me,” explained Toussaint. “For me to go into any kind of gym and just start lifting, it was an intimidating thing. It seems like there’s the people who are already there working out, like they know what they’re doing. I felt like an imposter.”

Once she found her way into the gym and began powerlifting, Toussaint found a community of other women like her.

“Women have supported me and helped me, and I hope that I’ve done the same for them,” said Toussaint. “That was an environment where we’re all working together to get stronger. Someone would hit a PR and we would all celebrate. Someone would maybe not hit something or have kind of a low moment, and we would rally around and support. That happened to me, too, people supported me when I hit a PR.”

The struggles and efforts of powerlifting, along with the community aspect of the sport, have become a source of spiritual connection for Toussaint as she draws parallels to some of her experiences on Kairos retreats. Just like with powerlifting, it is in some of the low moments that one finds the greatest strength.

“I think that to me, it also ties in with Kairos, of the theme of the retreat, of living your life in the full glory of God,” said Toussaint. “That’s what it feels like to me when I’m about to have problems, like a really heavy squat, like ‘Oh, I can’t do it, I can’t do it,’ but then, yes I can.”

After so many positive experiences with lifting, Toussaint urges others to get involved with the practice.

“I think everybody should do it,” said Toussaint. “Sometimes we think it’s just for athletes or strong men, but everybody gets stronger.”








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