Inquirer Lifestyle » Fashionista muscles her way into powerlifting

Well-Toned Ruby Gan
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[align=center][size=x-large]Fashionista muscles her way into powerlifting [/size][/align]

August 7, 2008
M ANILA, Philippines. 'This petite fashionista could lift a sack of rice' wearing four-inch heels. Now, if only stilettos were made of sturdier stuff.

Ruby Gan, a powerlifter, could do squats, in sexy heels, with 134 lbs of weight stacked over her shoulder. But that would be only for sheer 'fun'.

"The heels would not be able to stand the pressure, and I would end up with injuries," Gan said, laughing.

The buoyant owner of Schu and Myth, footwear and fashion boutiques, Gan is just as passionate about fashion as she is about lifting weights. To this day, the 2008 gold medalist in Master 1 category (56-kg class, bench press) has managed to keep both worlds separate.

No one in the fashion circle knows this svelte lady is a hardcore powerlifter. Sure, they might have guessed this mother of two grownup boys hits the gym regularly. But no one in the gym would even think she's a fashionista since she's usually in loose old shirts borrowed from her sons.

"I go to the gym with one goal in mind—to work out. I'm not so concerned about what I wear and how I look. I just need to be comfortable," she said.

And comfortable she is in big tees and shorts, the kind of clothes, Gan said, that gives her the freedom to move. And while she has been collecting the trendiest shoes since the early '80s, her gym shoes are the basic Asics running shoes because, she said, they're the most comfortable she's ever worn.

The 2008 gold medalist in Master 1 category
(56-kg class, bench press) hits the gym.

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Not your typical woman

G an is not your typical woman. Always ahead of her time, she was already doing leg presses in country clubs back when women were unheard of in the weights area. Now, she's among only 30 to 40 woman powerlifters in the country just when every Filipina is comfortable lifting just dumbbells.

The only daughter born to a conservative Chinese family, Gan grew up enthusiastic about sports and fitness, even if visits to the gym were frowned upon by her parents.

"My parents were always worried I was skinny. They wanted to feed me so I'd be, in their mind, a picture of health," Gan said.

Gan's first love was jazz back when Jane Fonda was the fitness heroine in leg warmers and tangas, and cardio exercises were called aerobics.

Since she needed a good pair of strong legs to sustain marathon aerobics competition, she began doing weights for her quads and hams.

"My God if you can only see the weights machines I used before. They looked like ancient torture devices," she said, laughing.

Affair with weightlifting

But her real love affair with weightlifting began much later, in 1993, a couple of years after giving birth to her youngest son. Her weight ballooned from a US size 2 to a US size 14. She panicked. She went back to the gym, this time incorporating a full-body weightlifting session into her routine.

For a time the new routine kept her adrenalin pumping. But after years of trying out every cardiovascular machine and every imaginable muscle exercise, Gan got bored, so bored that she was once enrolled in two major gyms at the same time. So she thought of doing powerlifting two years ago.

"I could have chosen to become a triathlete, but that discipline demanded way too much of my time," she said.

A newbie in powerlifting, Gan has already piled gold and silver medals. She won a gold in her first competitions in 2006 and a silver in the novice category for 60-kg weight class, thanks to Enrico Tocol, her trainer at Gold's Gym.

Gan is preparing for her second international competition in Hong Kong this December. She hopes to win gold. (She won silver in her first international competition.)

If and when she does get bored with powerlifting, Gan said she'll do something else, like bodybuilding. Who knows, she said, she might even do bodybuilding and powerlifting at the same time.
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