BY ANNETTE S. YEBOAH
TODAY As the world celebrates International Women’s Day, the DAILY HERITAGE chooses Esther Manubea Krow, a lady who has taken power-lifting, a male-dominated sport, by storm as our International Women’s Day personality in sport.
The DAILY HERITAGE SPORTS had a sit-down chat with Esther in Tema in the Greater Accra Region of Ghana on Wednesday. Though she is an amateur power-lifter, she is a health and fitness, marketing and sales pro and she is damn good-looking too.
According to her, many women tend to shy away from power-lifting and strength training in general because they have the impression that it will cause them to instantly bulk up, and so they prefer aerobics.
She said women naturally do not have testosterone “bestowed” upon them as males have been, hence the ability to build the muscle to the extreme is almost non-existent in women.
Esther says she does train primarily for strength, but she would be lying if she said she did not care about her looks.
“For many years, I felt I had no real control over my body, my appearance, my appetite, or my food intake. Now, I know that if I lift heavy, eat enough to support my training, and track my macros, I can build my muscle and get stronger without suddenly gaining a ton of fat,” she said.
The power-lifter coach thinks that it is not helpful to tell women they should not worry about how their bodies would look like.
“We are human and that pressure is always there. In my opinion, it is more empowering to give women the tools and knowledge to enable them to shape their bodies to look and perform the way they want to,” she added.
The celebrated coach said she wants all women to know that no matter how un-athletic, overweight/underweight, unhealthy, or inexperienced they are, they should not be surprised about how strong they can become when they practice some sports.
Esther said she took interest in power-lifting when she had the opportunity to visit the gymnasium at the age of 18 while a student at the Aburi Girls Senior High School in the Eastern Region of Ghana. She was extremely confident that she could lift metals as she saw other women at the gym doing aerobics instead of lifting.
“The more I got involved in the sport, the more I wanted to just go in and lift heavy weights, and I became obsessed with it. It became my new passion in life then.
“I have been coaching since age 22. It all started when I realised most people, especially women, were being neglected in gyms or when they needed any advice on what to do to stay in shape.
I am known by most people as X-train.
“I still see power-lifting and the weight room as places of healing. That is what makes me feel good about myself as I get into lifting. What men can do I can do it too, I needed to remain positive, be uplifting and open-minded person,” she said.
My legs have always been the strongest part of my body, and I have always loved how strong and graceful elephants are,” she said.
She said she had met so many amazing power-lifters who inspired her coaching abilities and skills as she found it very amazing to watch other females also being empowered by the sport.
Esther, who have been power-lifting for 28 years, has trained a lot of young ladies in Accra.
On Saturday one of her athletes won the World Amateur Bodybuilding Association community audition held in Ashaiman on Saturday.
Esther, who is very good at squat, one of the categories in power-lifting sports, says “the real contest is within you”.
“I do not care about the bad impression about women participating in power-lifting as it is basically seen as a man’s thing in Ghana. People even describe me as not being normal, when they see me at any training centre with even the lowest weight of dumbbell. They think it changes my physique and the biggest myth is you cannot have children,” she said.
Esther goes with the mantra ‘health is everything; train hard’ and says it motivates her to travel far. According to her, in power-lifting training the body needs to be conditioned but what some fail to realize is that one trains to condition the mind as well.
“Amazingly most instructors and fitness coaches think all women are the same and therefore need same exercises with the common one being aerobics. Strength and conditioning target both your inner and outer you. Just as it keeps your healthy, it puts the body in total shape,” she stated.
The 39-year-old athlete, who was born in Tema and says she has the motive to stay strong and in shape, is yet to go for her major competition.
“Doing aerobics and little machine is not enough for me. I am living proof. I started the sport when I was 18 years old, I was burning more calories via track, but after 28 years of heavy-lifting I have not lost my famine touch. I still wear the dress and heels to church and other functions.
“Lots of people do bouncy for fun but that is not my preferred method of enjoyment. Some people like it because it enables them to “zone out,” which is fine. Others do it just because they like how jacked their heart rate gets and the sweat that starts rolling in a brief amount of time.
“For those people, circuit training with weights would really be a great option to get both aerobic and anaerobic at once. Even if you are competing in marathons, a well-balanced training regime should never consist of cardio alone,” she said.
“It is pretty cool to say I was at 185lb dead lift three years ago, and now I’m at 300lbs, with a 225lb squat and 110lb bench,” she said.