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Vicki – Humans of Avon and Somerset

Dark haired woman in white blouse stands smiling in front of a tree in the sun

Humans of Avon and Somerset is a new series that will give you insight into the people behind the uniform of our organisation. Every person who works for us has a story, and over the coming months we will be sharing these with you, in their own words.

“Powerlifting has a positive impact on my work life and personal life. For me, any type of physical activity is a benefit.”

Vicki, Professional Standards Department Investigator

I’ve always been interested in the gym – I’ve done various types of training such as running, boot camps and circuits. I used to do CrossFit, which I really liked, but after a while I discovered an interest in powerlifting and found a local coach to help start my journey. He set up his own gym, which I now attend four or five days a week. I compete when I can, as I’m a member of the British Powerlifting Association, a few times a year. The last competition was in May, where I came third in the Southwest Women’s Powerlifting Championships.

Powerlifting is what it says on the tin – we concentrate on three types of lifts: squat, bench press and deadlift. In a competition, they’re done in that specific order, and you get three attempts at each lift. Normally you will start at a weight you feel comfortable with, and then incrementally increase, and at the end of your lifts you will get a total. The lifts that you completed successfully will be added together, and that total and the weight category you are in will determine your place. In my training, we focus on all the lifts across the week, and then some additional training to complement the bigger lifts and help me become stronger.

Dark haired woman wearing red vest standing up after lifting weight in gym
Photography: Jack D Parker Photography

I don’t think you ever regret an exercise session. You may have a bad session, but you’ll still be glad you’ve gone.

In this job, there are times where we are so busy, I can’t make it to the gym. I work in the Professional Standards Department, specifically the Counter Corruption Unit, and I’ve been here for 10 years. We deal with the most serious cases – sexual misconduct and abuse of position being a couple of examples.

I love working there and the job that we do: protecting the public, the organisation, and our colleagues. It’s a really fulfilling role and you get a lot back from it, although you do see probably the worst in some people. I’m also a mother, so juggling full-time work while being mum is quite stressful in itself. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.

Dark haired woman in white blouse stands smiling in front of a tree in the sun

Powerlifting has a positive impact on my work life and personal life. For me, any type of physical activity is a benefit. I’ve got three dogs and I absolutely love going out for a walk with them before work or going for a walk on the beach with my little one in the evening after work. There’s a benefit to anything you can do for yourself, and you can’t go wrong with any type of exercise. My team are so supportive and interested – they’ll always ask how I did whenever I have a competition.

There is a really good female representation in powerlifting competitions, and the gym I go to has a really good balance of different people. My daughter sometimes comes with me, and she joins in where she can. The others don’t mind – it’s lovely for her to be able to see mummy training, getting strong and enjoying exercise, which I think is great exposure for children. Our gym is a really welcoming environment – you can walk in, and anyone will say hello to you. You can have good conversations and my daughter’s exposed to that as well. I’m a massive advocate for children keeping fit and being active, and she’s the epitome of that because she loves being in the gym with me.

I’ll be honest, it took me a while to find what I was really passionate about when it came to exercise. I know that some people can feel quite disheartened if they want to take up a hobby outside of work but can’t find something that suits them. I would say just give everything you can a go, and if you find something you’re interested in, invest in it. I’ve done running, I’ve done CrossFit, I’ve done the whole boot camp and circuit training thing before I finally found powerlifting. Once I found it, I knew if I wanted to get into powerlifting, I would need to settle into it properly – I found a good coach, a programme that works for me, and a gym with a supportive community environment. I know money is a restriction for people, especially in recent times, but you’ve got to try everything within your reach and then give it a good go.

The gym I go to is for anybody. There is a whole range of people in our community, and one of the things I love most is that everyone supports each other. When you’re all in the same competition, you may be in the same weight category, but you’re still cheering for each other and pushing each other to achieve a personal best.