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Regina athlete Anna Schneider holds up her gold medal from the 2017 CPU Powerlifting and Bench Press Nationals.

When Anna Schneider began her fitness journey she had no idea she was starting an adventure that would lead her to the World Classic Powerlifting Championships in Minsk, Belarus.

All it took was five competitions; five competitions took Schneider from a local meet to the world stage.

In September 2014, Schneider crossed the finish line at the Queen City Half Marathon with a time of two hours 16 minutes 20 seconds. She had trained hard for six months; it was her first half marathon and she was proud of her accomplishment. But she didn’t feel the same way after saw the post-run photos.

“I was overweight.” says the 23-year-old. “I was unhappy with what I saw. I don’t think I even posted a picture of myself or saved any photos of myself from that day.”

Schneider didn’t spend much time feeling bad about herself – she decided to do something about it. Her dad found a Groupon for Villains Strength & Conditioning, formerly known as CrossFit Villains, and she decided to give CrossFit a try.

“It was really awesome,” recalls Schneider. “They were just starting and looking for clients, they had a Groupon, I think it was a 10-day punch pass.”

Schneider was hooked from the start.

CrossFit workouts incorporate a wide range of sports and different types of exercises; it’s a combination of high-intensity workouts that use elements of weightlifting, gymnastics, pull-ups, push-ups, rowing and running.

Schneider saw results almost immediately, losing over twenty pounds in just a few months.

A little over a year after she started CrossFit – halfway through the summer of 2016 – Schneider was at Mettle Performance Training Centre, a gym in Regina where her partner, Cody, works as a trainer. It was a quick comment from one of the coaches that eventually piqued her interest in powerlifting, a comment Schneider says she didn’t take seriously at first.

“(He) looks at me and says, ‘You’re really strong and you’re pretty small, have you ever thought of powerlifting?’ And I’m not joking, I laughed in his face.”

Powerlifting is a strength sport; a demonstration in heavy lifting. Competitors are given three chances to lift as much as they can on three different lifts: squat, bench press, and deadlift.

There was a competition coming up in the city in a few weeks, after some encouragement from her partner, Schneider decided to give it a shot.  

At five foot two, Schneider competed in the 57 kilogram weight class. Her personal records are impressive; she can easily lift more than twice her body weight, squatting 305 pounds, benching 170 pounds, and deadlifting 352 pounds.

At her first powerlifting meet in July 2016, after training for less than a month, Schneider placed first in her weight class and was named overall best female of the day.

“(At the meet) I was doing CrossFit style of squatting, and CrossFit style of deadlifting, and I had no idea what I was doing with my bench,” Schneider says with a laugh. “Looking back now I was pretty bad, but I still did really, really good that first meet.”

After that first meet Schneider decided to see how for she could go in powerlifting. Competing as a junior, Schneider thought she could make it to nationals, maybe even worlds.

The wins kept coming for Schneider. At provincials in October 2016, she won first place in her weight class and was named best junior of the meet. In January 2017, Schneider made the trek out to Guelph, Ontario in hopes of qualifying for nationals. She placed first in her weight class again.

Then Schneider was off to a national competition in Saguenay, Quebec. At nationals, the competition came down to the last deadlift. Schneider won. Along with winning first place in her weight class Schneider was also offered a spot on Team Canada and a chance to compete at the World Classic Powerlifting Championships in Minsk, Belarus in June 2017.

Schneider came in eighth place in her weight class in Belarus. Not necessarily her desired rank, but not too bad for her first time facing the best in the world.

After competing among the world’s best, Schneider has decided to return to her CrossFit roots. But not without a plan to return to powerlifting.

“Now I'm no longer a junior,” says Schneider. “I'm going to have to pull up my socks again, and now compete with people who've been (powerlifting) for longer than I've been alive. They're so strong.”

“For now I'm going to take a building couple years and just get stronger, work on my weaknesses. I'll probably return to the powerlifting stage one day because I'm meant for it.”