'Your Mama pulls fire trucks!' is praise for StrongMoms' kids

Fri May 6, 2016 7:45am EDT
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By Barbara Goldberg

NORWALK, Conn. (Reuters) - Still shunning alcohol because she was breastfeeding her 7-week-old baby, Jessica Hopkins grabbed a 50-pound (23 kg) beer keg with her bare hands and hurled it over a chest-high metal bar.

Women like Hopkins, a former jewelry design assistant, are the fastest-growing group of competitors in Strongman, a sport that involves chucking, dragging and hefting tremendously heavy weights. Events include single-handedly pulling a 23-ton (21-metric-ton) fire truck across a parking lot or heaving a 200-pound fire hydrant onto a shoulder-high platform.

"It's almost like labor - you have to work through it even though it's hard," Hopkins said recently on her first day back at Strongman training since giving birth.

Hopkins, 34, quit her job to care full-time for her daughter, Louie, but does not want to give up Strongman competitions and preparing for them at Punch Kettlebell Gym in Norwalk, Connecticut.

"You feel proud of yourself, which is awesome," said Hopkins as she gazed at Louie snoozing in her portable cradle.

Females now make up 35 percent of the 20,000 U.S. Strongman members, said Dione Wessels, chief executive officer of Strongman Corp, the competition's governing body. The sport may bring to mind steroid-fueled muscle heads, but the competitions draw doctors, university professors, tech industry salespeople and even parent-teacher association presidents.

"For a lot of women who do Strongman, it's part of who we are," said Gina Melnik of Boston. "It's how you define yourself."

The 38-year-old government researcher with a PhD from Tufts University has pulled a monster truck and repeatedly flipped a 650-pound tractor tire.   Continued...

A participant in the May Queen Spring Strongwoman competition pulls a truck in Lancaster, Pennsylvania April 25, 2015. Courtesy of Amanda Kulik/Handout via REUTERS