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Dorna Naseri : Strongwoman, Writer, & Photographer

Posted on March 19 2018

Dorna Naseri : Strongwoman, Writer, & Photographer
There is a stereotype of what a body that lifts looks like.  Every body shape is different and reacts differently to the same exercise or diet.  It's more important to simply find what works for you.  ABC news article states,  "Powerlifters ... call it the "sport of strength" and it is widely known for building muscle strength, flexibility and conditioning."  They show women over 40 who love lifting because it helps them achieve what they never imagined as possible.  Below is a photo of Anne Forden who dead lifts over 121 pounds at the age of 68. She found lifting to help her deal with depression.  Lifting also creates a supportive culture as teammates support each other to achieve their "personal bests." No matter at what age, we as women should stop undermining ourselves and push for what we want to achieve.  Afterall, it's all about the gains.
ABC news Women who lift
Dorna Naseri is a writer and photographer with a journalism background, based in New York. Outside of business hours, you can find her inside the walls of a gym training previously as a fighter in the martial arts form of Muay Thai or as a new competitor in the sport of Strongman. Her first competition was this past January.  She placed third in the novice division in New York State, which was made up of 20 women of all different weights.  She found her passion in the challenges of lifting and being able to achieve better technique and weight over time.  Read more about her in the interview below.

Dorna Naseri : Strongwoman, Writer, & Photographer
"I love that strongman tests elements like your strength, endurance, and speed—but MOST of all, your sheer willpower to dig deep when you feel like your tank is on empty. Plus, how can you not have a great day after flipping a tire that weighs triple your bodyweight?!"
How did you fall upon the sport of strongman and what makes you love it?

Even though I’ve always been a gym rat, I always thought of lifting as something that "other people" did, not me. I was coming from a background of training and fighting in the martial arts form of Muay Thai, often training six times a week. Eventually I wanted to try something new, and a good friend recommended I try out the strongman program at Kings Combat Fitness in Queens.

Thanks to her, and the extraordinary team there, I’ve been addicted ever since. Only a year and a half in, and I’m absolutely hooked on the feeling of pushing my own boundaries and achieving things I never imagined possible. I love that strongman tests elements like your strength, endurance, and speed—but MOST of all, your sheer willpower to dig deep when you feel like your tank is on empty. Plus, how can you not have a great day after flipping a tire that weighs triple your bodyweight?!

It's also incredibly empowering as a woman to realize you can, for instance, love to doll up, but also lift heavy shit. I've always been a bit girly with an inner tomboy, and falling in love with this sport has allowed me to embrace both sides of that. It's not black and white, you know? There can be so many layers and dimensions to who you are as a woman, and as a human being. Labels fall short.

The community aspect of strongman is pretty special, too. It's really a gym family. Even on competition day, athletes in your own division—people who are literally competing against you—will scream and root for you, and high five you when you succeed. People share equipment, snacks… it’s seriously the best, most uplifting atmosphere. There’s a true sense of respect, you know?

Dorna Naseri : Strongwoman, Writer, & Photographer
"It's not black and white, you know? There can be so many layers and dimensions to who you are as a woman, and as a human being. Labels fall short."
What was your biggest takeaway from competing in strongman for the first time?

Without a doubt, I’ve learned the importance of trusting the process. When I was preparing for January, there were times where I felt like I was having an off day, or not doing enough. Once you get out there on competition day, though, you realize it’s a whole package deal; the good, the bad, and everything in between. Not every day will be perfect. You will have failures along the way. But you just have to trust in both yourself and the people putting in time and energy to elevate you to the best possible version of yourself—and then run with it when it’s go time. To me, this reflects what we go through in other aspects of life. 
 
Also, while I trained for 6 weeks for my competition, there was a woman in my division who’d only trained strongman for 6 weeks EVER. She gave each lift every ounce of her energy, and was smiling every time I looked over. I just thought that was so fearless and bad-ass, that she dove right in and believed in herself like that. There’s inspiration around us everywhere, if we’re open to it. 

Competing has also made me learn to love and appreciate my body in every step along this journey. The human body is such a powerful thing and capable of so much that I’m excited to continue exploring. 

Dorna Naseri : Strongwoman, Writer, & Photographer
What would you tell yourself when you were younger?

Try things that scare you at least a little bit; it might change your life and will most definitely enrich your perspective.

Don't let the opinions of others govern your decisions; those opinions are often rooted in insecurities or experiences that have nothing to do with you in the first place.

Always consider yourself a student, no matter how good you are at anything. The most impressive and talented people I've met are always drilling the basics rather than feeling comfortable and putting their feet up, so to speak.

Ditch the post-dessert guilt trip, because life would seriously suck without ice cream.

Dorna Naseri : Strongwoman, Writer, & Photographer
"I also enjoy the idea of making people rethink their assumptions. I’ve been told that I “don’t look like a fighter” or “don’t look like a lifter,” but yet here I am, doing something you might not expect, and loving it."
Is there something you were self-conscious about when you were younger and have learned to embrace today?

In high school I wished my legs were slimmer. I also used to beg my mother to let me tweeze my brows thinner, so I would look more like the girls around me. Being a teenage daughter to immigrant parents, and still figuring out my identity, I thought my brows made me stand out too much. But my mom literally forbade me from thinning them out, saying I’d regret it later.

Well, fast-forward to today. My definition of beauty has definitely expanded over the years, and I love my legs now. I actually get excited when I see them developing more curvature or muscle, because it makes me feel strong. As for the brows… well, let’s just say, right about now my mom is shaking her head, smirking, and mouthing the words, “I told you so.” And you know what? She did!

What do you love about yourself?

If I grow interested in something, I’m going to spend as much time as possible doing it, thinking and reading about it, watching movies or documentaries about it, etc. I’ve come to love my tendency to follow my passion and become totally immersed in whatever pursuit I’m focused on at the moment.

I love my ability to strike up a conversation with just about anyone.

I also enjoy the idea of making people rethink their assumptions. I’ve been told that I “don’t look like a fighter” or “don’t look like a lifter,” but yet here I am, doing something you might not expect, and loving it.

What do you love about lingerie?

I love the idea of embracing your own femininity and wearing what makes you feel like a queen in your own skin. It’s very body-positive, which we need more of, as women. It’s really more about yourself than anything else.

Dorna Naseri : Strongwoman, Writer, & Photographer
What are you most excited about?

Lately it’s been all about trying new things. Even if it doesn’t stick, I’m meeting all sorts of new people who are in their element and truly passionate about what they do, and those are my favorite kinds of people in the world. They forever inspire me.
 
I can’t wait for the thrill of competing again!

I’m also super excited to dedicate more time to my photography this year, and zero in on what makes my own style and perspective unique.

Lastly, I’ve always had a love for animals, but my brother getting a sweet, loving puppy in
 the last year has really impacted my life. It spurred a desire in me to get involved somehow. I just completed my orientation to volunteer at a local no-kill animal shelter, and can’t wait to contribute some love and care to those beautiful creatures.
Thanks to Kings Combat Fitness for letting me photograph in their space.

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