LAKELAND — Madison Yonash is a sophomore at Florida Polytechnic University in Lakeland. "Madi" has been powerlifting since her junior year of high school. She decided to compete at the collegiate level and help other women hit the gym by starting the school's powerlifting team.
"We have an opportunity to create these university teams. And I was like, hey, I think this would be something that would get a lot of girls interested in the gym, kind of help create a community environment," Yonash said.
She says pushing other people to be successful is just as important as pushing herself.
"Being able to be a part of something where you help other people grow and find themselves. Something that a lot of people are scared to get into," Yonash added. "I think that’s the best thing for me, is to both improve myself and help others achieve the same level that I’ve come to."
Yonash's roommate, Ahna Cecil, said she originally joined the team so that they'd have a good turnout. Now she's at the gym five days a week.
"Seeing [Madi] be so driven, and motivated, and dedicated every single day is really impressive and inspiring," Cecil said. "I like being around people who motivate me. And I think she likes the same relationship. So, it’s been really nice."
Between her own workouts and coaching others, Yonash, a business analytics major who also started the women's club soccer team, can spend up to four hours at the gym in a single day. But she's not complaining.
"Discipline is going to take you so much farther than motivation. I enjoy it, truly," she said with a smile. "But during those off days, it can be difficult unless I keep that goal on the mind, really."
A year ago, Madi wasn't sure if she even wanted to compete. Now she's getting ready for a national competition.
"I think it’s just a testimony to my grit, perseverance that I put in this past year. It’s so surreal, but I’m super excited."
The USA Powerlifting Collegiate National Championship gets underway March 27 in Chicago.