SWINDON Barbell’s Emily-Jane Sheppard finished seventh in her class when she compete at the IPF European Equipped Powerlifting Championships at the weekend.

Sheppard only picked up weights for the first time back in January 2017, having been introduced to powerlifting at New College Swindon by coaches Charlie Shotton-Gale, Helen Toms and Ben Grey.

She soon began to attend the free enrichment classes held at the college once a week, learning key techniques and the correct form in squat, bench press and deadlift, until dedicating herself fully to a training programme of four sessions a week at Swindon Barbell.

Starting out in raw powerlifting after qualifying for January’s Equipped British Championships, Sheppard went on to successfully claim the title in the -63kg juniors class and qualify for European Equipped Championships, picking up South West records for squat and bench press along the way.

Competing in the same category in Plzen in the Czech Republic over the weekend, Sheppard posted best scores of 125kg in squat, 70kg in bench press and 127.5kg in deadlift for a total of 322.5kg.

Sheppard said: “It’s all down to Swindon Barbell that I’ve gotten this far. If it wasn’t for them offering the free sessions at my, college I’d never have tried it.

“I’m so pleased with how far I’ve come in such a short time, and the outlet training provided has been so good for me.

“I no longer look at my body as something that should be as skinny as possible, but rather as something that can achieve incredible things.

“The team environment at Swindon Barbell is such a motivator to keep pushing forward, even when training doesn’t go well.

“Everyone who comes to the club comments on what a tight-knit team we all are, and it’s so nice to have such a supportive atmosphere to compete in.”

Barbell head coach and 10-times British champion Shotton Gale, and European Masters champion and national referee Toms were the driving forces behind Sheppard transitioning into equipped lifting, and she credits the coaches for getting her where she is today.

“All of our coaches are brilliant for different reasons, but if it wasn’t for Charlie, Helen, and Charlie’s husband Karl Marillier, I would’ve ended up stuck in a squat suit a long time ago,” said Sheppard.

“Without the support of the coaches, it would’ve been difficult to progress in such a competitive sport. As a young woman taking up a strength sport being surrounded by so many strong ladies has been unbelievably inspiring.

“Lifting has not only introduced me to loads of new people and allowed me to form relationships with competitors all over the country, it has been really good for my self-esteem and body confidence.

“As there is always the option of going up or down a weight class, I no longer feel the need to starve myself to fit a certain body norm.

“Instead, I’m embracing being more muscular, and I actively encourage every girl to try it out and see how they get on.”

Swindon Barbell are situated at Princess Place on Trow Lane and open six days a week, from 6-8pm on Monday to Friday and from 10am-12pm on Saturdays.


To inquire about memberships or pay-as-you-go training, email lifter@swindonbarbell.com.