Powerlifter Di Cook enters her first competition

Di Cook warming up with an 85kg deadlift
Di Cook warming up with an 85kg deadlift

Two years ago, Di Cook weighed 40kg more than she does currently and had not managed to stick to an exercise regime for longer than three months.

Now the 46-year-old trains every day and next month she will be competing in her first powerlifting competition.

Alongside her will be fitness trainer and Raleigh gym owner, Adrian Betts, who got Di hooked on strengthening her body.

"I always approached exercise as a weight loss thing," Di said. "And it was always about going hard on cardio and I'd hate it so much I'd just stop.

"With powerlifting, you're focusing on what your body can do."

What Di's body can do now includes 130kg dead lifts, 60kg bench presses and 75kg back squats - about double what she could manage a year ago.

"It's been 12 months that I've been working on the weights and for the last few months I've been quite consistent," she said.

"I hope to put a few more kilos on the bars before the competition. I've got eight weeks to go."

Di will be one of 40 entrants in Hunter Strength's Novice Powerlifting Competition in Beresfield on November 24.

"It's given a focus to my training," she said. "It's about challenging yourself and stepping out of your comfort zone."

Di first came to Adrian's gym because of her children.

"I've got four kids on the [autism] spectrum and I was told he was really good with the kids.

"I was about 40 kilos heavier the and he encouraged me to join in with the training. Some of it was with the barbell and I just loved it."

After joining the gym, Di did a nutrition course with Adrian and started working out based on a program he developed for her.

For the last six months, she's been training every day - sometimes twice a day.

"If I only get here three times a week, I feel like I haven't been," she said.

Di said the exercise program has benefited her mental health as well as her body.

"Two years ago, I wasn't in a great place. I had problems with depression and anxiety. This is my happy place, it keeps my brain right."

Three of her children are still training with Adrian and her husband is also getting into cardio and weights at the gym.

"I have a family history of obesity," Di said, "and I want to escape it."