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A bundle of dynamite

Macy Lantz powering her way to the top of world’s lifting elite

Posted: October 19, 2017 1:09 p.m.
Updated: October 20, 2017 1:00 a.m.
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MACY LANTZ HOLDS three national power lifting records for her age group and weight division. She will try and add to her accomplishments later this month at the National Powerlifting Championships in Charlotte.

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There is nary a drop of oil on the floor of Adam Romero’s garage at his Elgin home … and with good reason.

Rather than being used to protect Romero and his wife’s cars from the elements, the structure has been converted into a weight room. The floor is covered by rubber mats to shield the concrete surface from the constant pounding of the free weights being dropped on it. A portion of one wall is covered by heavy chains while inspirational phrases, written in chalk, adorn the opposite wall.

Sitting quietly atop a stack of boxes which are used to jump atop for pre-lifting exercises is the newest addition to the facility, 14-year-old Macy Lantz, a freshman at Camden High and Romero’s younger sister. Sipping from a Styrofoam cup, she watches as Adam sets up for her workout.

Although a relative newcomer, Lantz knows the routine when it comes to powerlifting. Since having joined her brother in working out in May, all she has done is to have set world records in her age group and weight class in bench press, squats and dead lift.

Lantz is hardly one to brag about her accomplishments. In fact, the 5-foot-1 dynamo is almost shy while being quite polite when it comes to being asked about her rapid rise to the top. What Lantz may be reluctant to tell, her numbers speak loudly and clearly.

At a nationally-certified powerlifting meet in Fayetteville, N.C., Lantz went from an unknown in the sport to a national record holder in all three disciplines. With a bench press of 85 pounds, squatting 132 and dead-lifting 198.9 pounds, Lantz earned an invitation to the 2017 365 Strong Men and Women World Powerlifting Championships to be held Oct. 28-29 in Charlotte.

It has been a meteoric rise for someone who became interested in getting involved in the sport only after her cousin started lifting weights to help with her cheerleading. Macy then started taking it seriously in May.

Fortunately, Macy had an instructor in the family in her brother. A former paramedic with Kershaw Health, the combination of 24-hour shifts and many a late night drive-through trips, Romero was packing on the pounds and was diagnosed with high blood pressure, borderline diabetes along with a long litany of other health problems.

Seeking to change his life, Romero joined Carolina Fitness in Camden. After several weeks of what he jokingly called ‘Facebook Fitness’ in which he would drive to the gym and go up one row of machines and down the other while eating low-fat meals, he did not drop any weight or, get any healthier. Seeing this, the gym’s owner, Ron Blackman, pulled Romero aside to offer some life-changing advice.

“Coach approached me and began to teach me about powerlifting, proper nutrition and, basically, effective workout programs,” Romero said of his talks with Blackmon. “Then, he made a comment about the size of my thighs and said, ‘As big as your thighs are, you have to start powerlifting.’ I said, ‘What is powerlifting?’ That is how I started my love affair with it.”

Training from 2010 to 2013, and after having shedded 60 pounds in the first eight months, Romero and his wife both competed in the inaugural Battle of Camden powerlifting meet; their first competition. It was then, he said, that he caught the “The Iron Bug.”

He has since started infecting others including Macy, who first learned of powerlifting after seeing her brother achieve success in the sport. What really kick-started her involvement was her cousin’s parents bringing their daughter to Romero for coaching and counseling.

“What really started for Macy,” Romero said, “was probably about close to a year ago, I started training her little cousin who was told if she wanted to make it onto a national cheer team, she had to get stronger. My aunt and uncle looked to me and sent her over here to train. I think Macy said, ‘Well, if she’s going to do this training, then I’m going to do it.’”

Macy’s program, however, was different. When she was asked what she wanted to get from training, her answer was to get strong and build muscle to the frame of a young lady who was a member of the Camden Country Club swim team and who, as a nine-year -old, was competing against other girls five or six years older in the breaststroke.

Some four months after coming to Romero’s house two days a week to train, she blew the competition out of the water in Fayetteville. Competing in the 132-pound Teen 1 class, her fourth dead-lift attempt was a national record. She bettered the national record with three of her bench press numbers to go along with her national-best mark in squat.

Competitors are given three attempts in each division before being given a fourth opportunity, if all goes well. Lantz received a fourth chance in all three disciplines. “It’s exceedingly uncommon that you get to attempt a fourth lift in every event,” Romero said.

“Because of her age and weight class, Macy went in there and pulled some really unprecedented numbers and was able to earn an invite to nationals.”

The numbers posted by Macy were staggering given her non-descript beginnings when she first stepped inside her brother’s converted garage. “I was benching around 70 pounds when I first started,” she said with her voice hardly rising above a whisper.

Macy’s workouts began by just lifting the bar without weights on either side of it. From there, she went up in five-pound increments and did five sets of five lifts. Quickly progressing, weights, bands and chains were added to the bar to accommodate the resistance. In the Fayetteville national competition, she raised more than a few eyebrows with her dead lift numbers.

“Her dead lift was the weirdest one because we never trained with anything more than 130 pounds with bands and with chains,” Romero said. “Then, she went to nationals and pulled 200 like it was an empty bar. Sometimes, it’s kind of hard to keep up with where you are, strength-wise. A lot of it has to do with your rest and nutrition.”

Macy just smiled when asked about that day and any pre-competition ritual she has. There is no listening to music or, closing herself to the outside world before she lifts.  “No,” she said. “I just go in and do it.”

To see Macy Lantz, one would never suspect that she can lift such staggering amounts of weight given her frame. Once learning of the numbers she has posted in tournaments, even her closest friends will give a double-take.

“There are like, ‘Oh, my God, I would never know because you are so little,’” she said with a smile.

Rest assured, those friends probably have little idea as to how Macy has risen to the top as quickly as she has done in such little time.

One change which she has seen is in her eating habits. As one who said she likes to sneak in some chocolate while at school, she he been put on a fairly rigid diet by her brother/trainer.

“I don’t think Macy took her nutrition seriously before a competition until she got around me for 48 hours and I basically force-fed her to eat and got her to drink so that she was properly hydrated and got her salt levels right,” he said. “She then found it was much, much easier to lift when she was a little bloated and hydrated.

“If you play it right, you can play be pretty liberal with your nutrition. The bloating actually helps us a little bit in lifting. Higher protein diet is going to be better for building muscle. Macy has seen a pretty solid body re-composition. Her scale weight hasn’t changed.”

In fact, since starting her new way of life in May, Macy estimates she has only put on five pounds. Her waist size, Romero said, has stayed the same if not decreased over that time. “Power lifting, I think is very liberating for young girls, especially,” he said.

Macy admitted to having to get used to a new way of eating since becoming a powerlifter. “I feel like eating a little bit at one time and then, going to eating a lot at a time,” she said. “Sometimes, you have to eat a lot … until you feel sick.”

No matter the size of her meals, Macy admitted to not being able to eat much before competition. Her nerves, she said, get the best of her as she prepares for her events.

“Very,” she said when asked if she gets a bit unnerved before her name is called to lift. “I get very nervous before competitions. My stomach hurts before I lift. I don’t eat.”

In the days before the Charlotte national championship, Macy Lantz is tapering her training in order to be peaking for her big day. Romero said his sister is primed for a big showing in the Queen City.

“A conservative estimate is that Macy does 150 pounds squat; 100 pounds bench and hopefully 225-250 dead lift,” he said. “Her dead lift is outrageous for her size and her weight.”

Should she meet or exceed her brother’s lofty predictions, those numbers will more than satisfy Macy Lantz whose philosophy on why she enjoys powerlifting and what it takes to be the best are two-fold.

 “The best part is that you get to break records,” she said with a smile before getting more serious with the second part of her answer. “The worst part is that it’s a lot of work.”

 

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