Six days a week for five hours straight, at Gladiator Strength and Conditioning freshman Joyce Diez has been strengthening her powerlifting skills since February 2017. Overcoming effects Lupus and Raynaud’s disease, J. Diez recently set a national record for lifting a total of 491.63 lbs, at Crossfit Collaboration. Through training with her older brother, Diez has found a passion with the opportunity to inspire herself but others around her.
“Joyce as an athlete has crazy work ethic. I know that is a cliche thing to say about any athlete but Joyce really shows it, despite having Lupus. Despite how she’s feeling she goes in the gym and she puts in work, it seriously gives me goosebumps,” older brother and personal trainer of J. Diez Anthony Diez said.
Diez has had Lupus since Oct 2015 and Raynaud’s since Sept. of the same year. Lupus is an inflammatory disease that is caused when one’s immune system attacks tissue within their body, which can cause side effects such as, muscle pain and pain while breathing. Raynaud’s disease causes coolness and numbness in certain areas of the body. Despite the struggles of having an immunity disease she still pushes herself to reach her highest potential. Gladiator Strength and Conditioning co-owner and trainer Nathan Small has had Crohn’s disorder for about 20 years and with these types of diseases it allowed them to gain a relationship when it came to training.
“She has immunity diseases just like I do, so it is great to see someone that has kind of the same thing that I have [and] pushing through it at a young age. I have been doing it for as long as I have[and] it is rough,” Small said.
Diez trains with J. Diez daily for three months now. The two work with the same routine which mainly focuses on, her reps and set and measuring the amount of weight she can lift.
“I try to teach her regular body building, so we did that for a month and she said kuya [big brother in Tagalog], ‘I’m strong I want to be strong,’ and I said forget your disability we can still do it despite what people tell you, you have to prove them wrong,” A. Diez said.
From being the youngest competitor at her last competition on March 18, J. Diez broke the state and national records. In order to improve her skillsets now she would need to increase her one rep max by a certain amount of weight per lift.
“It felt like I belonged [in the competition], everyone was so surprised to see that I’m starting at a young age, setting state and american records at my first competition. Everyone looked scary or intimidating but after meeting and talking to [the other competitors] they ended up being really kind and they’re just trying to become better themselves,” J. Diez said.
Diez has been training for the past three months for her upcoming competition in July. She continues with a daily routine and program provided by her brother. Their main focus is to perfect her form. According to A. Diez, they push themselves at their full potential even with the little energy left.
“Joyce is in here at one o’clock in the morning pushing it. She’s 14 years old killing it in the gym at like one to two o’clock in the morning. That’s amazing,” Small said.
According to J. Diez, powerlifting has helped her relieve stress and subside her symptoms with her diseases. It has also helped her gain more confidence in herself and build herself physically and mentally. The side effects from her disease makes her feel fatigue, affects appetite and has a huge affect on her joints. According to A. Diez, even with the side affects from her disease, J. Diez will push herself as much as she can.
“I would like to powerlift for as long as I can so I can be strong, hopefully I can better myself than I am now like get my form right every single time, not messing up, making it as perfect as I can so that it’s actually difficult to mess up,” J. Diez said.
By pushing herself through powerlifting, she has been able to inspire others around her when it comes to training at the gym or by simply posting on social media her Instagram account called “@thejoyoflifting” where she posts and updates her progress on her training. The account has garnered the attention of a number of viewers and inspired many people including several BVH students.
“It is awesome to see Joyce being a powerlifter, seeing how she already broke national record is incredible. She is very inspirational. She is breaking gender roles [by] showing that being a girl doesn’t mean you have to be dainty and thin, you can be well built and strong. Girls can learn that they can find their own strengths and roles models like her,” sophomore Elayna Bagaporo said.
According to A. Diez and Small, J.Diez has served as a huge inspiration. Both of them have recognized how much J. Diez has really stood out in comparison to others, while working with her one on one and watching her process on a daily basis, they have noticed a huge amount of progress in a short amount of time. J. Diez is currently training for her next competition which will happen around July.
“She has a ton of potential to be 14 years old with the immune issues that she has, and being this close to breaking a world record is awesome, she is about to beat a world record, she’s probably in the top three, they have not released the results yet for her, so until they get released on powerwatch. My hopes for her is to be happy. I want her to do well and if I can be apart of that, that’s great. If she want’s to go for a world record then let’s go for a world record. I think she can smash it. ” Small said.
With the progress J. Diez is making now, she has the potential of achieving world titles in a span of six months, according to Small. In order to beat world records, J. Diez would have to squat 26 lbs, bench 20 lbs and deadlift by about 100 lbs more than she lifted prior. Receiving a world record at the age of fourteen is a huge deal in comparison to nationals. With pursuing her goal of powerlifting, J.Diez has hopes of pursuing her powerlifting career for as long as he could.
“Usually when people look at me they think I’m small and they don’t think I can do much. I don’t really like being looked at as small. When I do powerlifting I think, I want to be stronger so people can see me as more than what I actually am. I haven’t really tested myself as far as I can go I feel like personally I feel stronger than I was before,” J. Diez said.