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Paige Bayer ’15

All Power to Her

The clatter of free weights hitting the floor and athletes pushing their limits are sweet sounds for Paige Bayer ’15, likely St. Norbert College’s first competitive powerlifter.

“As far as anyone knows, I’m the first competitive powerlifter at St. Norbert, male or female,” says Bayer, a business major who works for the Green Bay Packers as a marketing intern staffing the stadium tour desk. “I have a good time with it. It keeps my head on straight. It demands commitment and it’s humbling.”

Bayer qualified for the USA Powerlifting Raw Nationals in the junior division with her performance at the Wisconsin State Open in Milwaukee in January. She registered 250 pounds in the deadlift (a personal best), 175 in the squat and 105 in the bench press. (The raw version of powerlifting features the use of a belt and knee wraps for support.)

At 5-foot-4, 144 pounds, Bayer packs a lot of muscle into a small frame. She competes in the 72-kilogram weight class, which includes athletes up to 158.4 pounds. The junior division encompasses ages 20-23.

Powerlifting is neither a varsity nor club sport at St. Norbert College. Bayer competes as an individual out of the CrossFit 920 gym in Green Bay, with occasional workouts at the college’s Schuldes Sports Center. CrossFit is a fitness regimen that involves varied functional movements performed at relatively high intensity.

Bayer, who played softball at St. Mary Central High School in Neenah, Wis., took up the CrossFit strength and conditioning program a year ago for personal reasons.

“Last year, I was treated by a boy in a way that I probably shouldn’t have been,” Bayer says. “I remember how small and weak it made me feel. I decided I didn’t want to feel that way again.”

Bayer found herself drawn to the challenge of powerlifting as her strength and fitness improved. She continues to pursue CrossFit as well as powerlifting, and now has participated in competitions in both disciplines.

“I have the convenience of training for CrossFit and powerlifting at the same place with the same people,” Bayer says. “Your specialty becomes whatever you put an emphasis on. It’s satisfying to get your workout done before other people even get up.”

As Bayer got more into CrossFit, she took notice at the impressive amounts of weight moved by other female competitors.

“The State Open was my first powerlifting meet; I had watched one, but never competed in one,” she says. “I learned a ton even though I didn’t quite hit the numbers I hoped to hit. The experience made it fun to get back in the gym and keep working at it.”

Bayer comes from a military family, including her father and two younger brothers. One of her brothers was a competitive powerlifter in high school, and reaching his performance levels is one of her goals.

“Quantitatively, there are some numbers I want to hit. My brother’s numbers are a target,” Bayer admits. “I have both of my brothers’ initials on the insides of my shoes. When I’m pushing through a workout, I know whatever they’re doing is a lot harder than what I’m going through.”

Bayer is unsure if she will travel to Pennsylvania in October to compete in the national meet. Whether she does or not, her primary goals are closer to the heart.

“If I can just get the word out about girls moving weight, that would be fulfilling,” Bayer says. “I have a strong work ethic and I hope people see me working hard. If it pushes them to work hard, that’s great. I’ll keep doing it as long as I’m having fun.”

April 17, 2015