Lifting each other higher

Local powerlifting group to compete at world competition

T-R PHOTO BY SARA JORDAN-HEINTZ A group of local men spend hours each week powerlifting at the Marshalltown YMCA-YWCA. They recently competed at the 2018 USPA Quad City Fit Expo in Davenport. TheyÕre now busy training for the Drug Tested IPL World Powerlifting Championships, to be held in Las Vegas November 8-11. Left to right: Jeremy Grimm, 37, Curt Shaver, 50, Larry Soderberg, 68, and Joey Roberts, 24.

For four locals powerlifting is more than a competitive sport — it’s a lifestyle. What started out as an interest in fitness and lifting weights evolved into a brotherhood.

Jeremy Grimm, 37, Joey Roberts, 24, Curt Shaver, 50, and Larry Soderberg, 68, all actively compete in powerlifting.

“I powerlifted in my 20s and early 30s, then had kids, and it just stopped. I was an elementary PE teacher, so I kept fitness going, and I’ve known Joey since he was in kindergarten,” Soderberg said. “So I just let it go and didn’t think I’d get back to it, then a friend who is a firefighter that I coach, he asked what I could lift, and he got me to try it again, and that fired it up, and that’s how it started for me, in 2008.”

The group spends hours a week training together at the Marshalltown YMCA-YWCA on the second floor, which was converted from the HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) room into a powerlifting room. Earlier this month, the guys competed at the 2018 USPA Quad City Fit Expo in Davenport. They’re now busy training for the Drug Tested IPL World Powerlifting Championships, to be held in Las Vegas Nov. 8-11. They will travel there at their own expense.

“All four of us hit the totals that we needed to qualify for the worlds competition,” Roberts said. “I’ve been powerlifting for four and a half years.”

Shaver, who resides in Albion, has only been powerlifting just under three years and already holds national records. Wanting to share his new-found passion with others, he coordinates the Y’s Youth Powerlifting Club, open to those ages 8-18, with Grimm offering some assistance, in a part-time capacity.

“I was just messing around with weights and met Curt, and started from there,” Grimm, who has been powerlifting for two years, said.

The United States Powerlifting Association differentiates the sport from weightlifting.

“Distinct from weightlifting, a sport made up of two lifts: the Snatch and the Clean-and-Jerk, where the weight is lifted above the head, powerlifting comprises three lifts: the Squat, Bench Press and Deadlift. Athletes are categorized by sex, age and bodyweight. Each competitor is allowed three attempts at each lift, the best lift in each discipline being added to their total. The lifter with the highest total is the winner. In cases where two or more lifters achieve the same total, the person with the lightest bodyweight wins.”

The men obtained the following totals at the Davenport competition: Roberts: 1,548 pounds; Grimm: 1,399 pounds, Shaver: 1,200 pounds; Soderberg: 850 pounds.

“The competition (in Davenport) itself was relatively small, but you don’t really lift against the people who are there, you lift against — if it’s a national competition — everyone that’s in the country, so anybody anywhere can beat your records. You don’t have to be in the same building at the same time,” Shaver said.

Soderberg said he feels he and Shaver are in a unique position, compared to that of younger athletes.

“The younger guys have to lift in the biggest pool of lifters, so as you get older, there are less competitors,” he said.

Powerlifting requires more than strength and agility. Often, the guys hit the weights at 5 a.m., training several times per week. Training for the sport consists of three key components: working out hard, eating the proper quantity of food and sleeping well.

Soderberg said he offers moral support to the other guys.

“I’m a retired teacher, but my wife and I are volunteer pastors at our church, so for me there is a real spiritual side for this, because I feel I was asked to be here and show the love of God to the men and women that are interested in this particular sport, and not just powerlifting; people are working out for lots of different reasons,” he said.

Soderberg in turn takes inspiration from a man named Kevin Mogard.

“There is a guy named Kevin Mogard and he isn’t part of this group but he was Mr. Iowa back in the day. He’s a few years older than me but he is actually the strongest ‘old guy’ in the gym,” Soderberg said.

From now until the fall, the guys will stay focused on being in optimal condition for the worlds competition. Grimm and Roberts plan to lift in the open category, which increases the competition.

“Right now we’re just trying to do well, and possibly set some records,” Roberts said.


Contact Sara Jordan-Heintz at 641-753-6611 or