“Me? Really? Strong?”

Today’s writer is a special guest that I met in a special place.

I still remember when I met her, I thought she hated me.

I was in Russia, I had just met the group I’d be training with for a kettlebell sport camp. I had a huge beard and was looking to get a beer. Today’s writer was having a coke and didnt find my small talk charming, this was odd because I’m told I’m extremely charming. Yup she hated me.

It was around this point when I started to feel quite out of place. I of course went to grab the can of chew out of my pocket. Yes, this is the first time I’m openly admitting I use to chew (sorry Ma). I at that point realized I had left my chew back in the States and then was made aware I was shit out of luck trying to find chewing tobacco in Russia. This was gonna be the longest week of my life.

“Oh hun, do you need a cigarette?”

And thats how I’d come to know Juliet Lederle, Coke-Cola and Smokes.

She was nice to me for the most part the rest of the trip and when you get to know Juliet “for the most part” is a huge win. She’s snarky, funny, sarcastic and someone I actually consider a very good friend. She lives in San Francisco and I dont get to see her that often unless its at a lifting competition. But honestly that’s my favorite times to see her.

Juliet is a Beautiful lifter. I mean it’s really something to see. And I’m not the usually golf fan at Kettlebell meets, I’m loud and some may say obnoxious but I can’t help but cheer my ass off when she’s lifting. The time she told me it actually meant a lot to her I finally knew she didnt hate me….

All joking aside Juliet is my friend. I ask her for advice from time to time and she always there to give it. Even if its in her own caring sarcastic way. She gave me a hug this year at Nationals when I told her I quit chewing and said she was proud of me for that. She’s also never judged me, which could be easy sometimes but she never has.

There was one thing I did know about Juliet from the first time I met her when I of course was saying the group should go for drinks our first night in Russia, Coca-Cola and smokes. I knew Juliet had something to say and while she’s unassuming when you meet her she has a inner fire that is unmatched by most of the people I’ve met in my life. And you know what? Its that fire that still makes me happy every single time I get to see her lift.

– Z

When Zach asked me to write this for him, I was all “No fucking way, I’m no athlete, I’m just a vain woman who needs to workout in order to eat and not kill people…”

The truth is, I am an athlete. I am totally addicted to kettlebell sport. I train bells four days a week, I coach oodles of other athletes how to lift bells for competition.  I went to Russia to learn from the best. I compete all over the country, and this October, I earned my Master of Sport in biathlon (one arm jerk and snatch with a 20k bell) making me one of five women in the US to rank MS in biathlon. It is the hardest and most rewarding thing I have ever done, except raise my 13 year old boy.

I was never an athlete when I was young. I spent my early years reading books to get out of my head. I spent my twenties and thirties buried in heroin addiction on the streets of San Francisco. When I was 34, after many fits and starts, I cleaned up my act. It was then I realized that I needed to workout in order to still my overactive mind and calm my rage-really I needed something to take the place of drugs. I started running, slowly, with old ladies passing me by. I persisted until I was able to run 6-9 miles at a time.

I knew I had some damage from my addiction; I had asymptomatic Hepatitis C from needles. When I was 38 I had to go through a year of a debilitating treatment protocol (similar to chemotherapy) for the Hep C. Although running was difficult/impossible during the year, I persisted. I ran, barely, I swam and even took spin classes. I swore when I finished the treatment, I would get in the best shape of my life.

I started out at a crossfit-based gym. I almost threw up in the warm up. I instantly thought “Wow!!! This is made for me!!!” I loved it so much; I started working for them. Turns out I have an aptitude for coaching. I think of it more being a dominatrix without the sex…well, kinda.

Within three years, I quit my corporate job and opened my own gym: Juno fitness in Berkeley. I had vaguely heard about kettlebell sport, but instantly dismissed it as ridiculous; I mean, why do a bazillion reps of one movement? Seems redundant, probably bad for joints and oy, lower back pain! Then I met John Wild Buckley of the Orange Kettlebell Club.  John taught me how to lift and how to love lifting. And, to my great joy, I had an aptitude for it. The beauty of the bells hooked me. I love the fact I just get stronger and stronger, and that it never gets easy. I’m always tweaking my technique and form. And that lower back pain I was so worried about? A thousand times better because of kettlebells.

It’s been three years since I started lifting kettlebells and I have never been stronger.  I love the fact that at 46 (or, a lady of a “certain age” as I like to say) I can lift a 53lb weight multiple times overhead. I have many students who are women my age who are amazing, strong lifters. My passion for helping others increases on a daily basis, along with the knowledge that if I can do it? So can you.

Posted by: Juliet 

5 Responses to ““Me? Really? Strong?””

  1. Beautiful Juliet

    Juliet is a huge inspiration to me, I doubt she knows it but I look up to her so much as a lifter, overall athlete, coach, and woman. When Juliet’s lifting you can’t help but lose track of everything else that’s going on around you when you sit in awe of what she can do on that platform. When I’m kettlebelling I don’t really hear much, I hear Zach’s ques because he’s usually right behind me, but at Nationals last year I could hear someone else, someone that I train with? No. Someone that I coach? No. Juliet, it was Juliet and I know it’s because my brain registered her voice to the way I look up to her and admire her so much and that is what helped me get through my set.

    Juliet, I can’t thank you enough for sharing your story with us! I am learning more and more everyday the impact our stories, our lives, can have on others and I know this will! Your story is beautiful, the love you have for what you do is beautiful and it is people like you that are true representations of the beauty in strength in mind, body and soul.

    Thank you!

  2. Juliet, thank you so much for sharing this. You truly are an inspiration to me, and to everyone at Juno. When you aren’t there, people have nothing but amazing and great things to say about you, and when you are around us all, you exude this energy, this passion that makes us all work harder and remain inspired.

    The moment I walked into Juno, I knew it would become a special place to me. Little did I know, those who are a part of Juno would become even more special to me. I look up to you so very much, and your story illuminates even more your strength, your positivism, your love to see others succeed, and your own drive to be the best you can be.

  3. Wow, Juliet! Congratulations! With outer strength, comes inner strength. With inner strength, comes beauty. Thank you for sharing your story of strength and beauty with us all.

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