Teacher Stories: Sharon Dilts, 7th Grade Social Studies at Manalapan Englishtown Middle School
I’m a teacher, but I’m also a personal trainer at CentraState Gym. I’ve always liked lifting weights, and my one friend, Patrick, started trying to teach me the fundamentals of Olympic weightlifting, like the “snatch,’ and the “clean and jerk.” Eventually he got together with a couple of friends and they put together a team and he said to me, ‘Hey, I think you’d be really good at it. You might have a future in it.’ And it just kind of went from there. It’s like my outlet from teaching. It’s where all my stress goes.We train two lifts, the “snatch,’ and the “clean and jerk.” If you’ve ever watched the Olympics weightlifting, those are the two lifts that we do. And they’re incredibly technical. I like it because it’s a combination of you having to be totally athletic, and you having to be strong. It’s a lot of training and a lot of blood, sweat and tears sometimes, but it’s a lot of fun. It’s so satisfying.
The thought is, the better your form is, the more you will be able to lift because they are so technical. So when you compete, you get three attempts to hit the heaviest snatch you can, and three attempts to hit the heaviest clean and jerk you can and then whatever is your highest for both combines for your total. But the better the technique the better the lift, usually.I’ve done five competitions. I have my next one on August 13. You’re technically competing against other people, but really what it is, is you’re competing against yourself. At the end of the day, it’s just what total can you get? What have you been working at? How can you break your previous score? And what’s nice is it’s such a good community in New Jersey, especially people from other clubs; they cheer for each other. When we’ve had people go on for national competitions we’re all rooting for each other.
This is the strongest by far I’ve ever been. You need good mobility, flexibility, things like that because sometimes you’re picking 100 pounds up from the floor. You can’t get it over your head by muscling it so you have to get really low and pull underneath it. So you have to be able to get up from that point. This has totally molded me into the person I am now. Even as a teacher, I like to talk to the kids about the importance of exercise, regardless if it’s weight lifting or not, just to exercise their bodies is so good for them both physically and mentally. They know that I do this. On the first day of school when I have my little “About Me” slideshow, I put the picture of me holding the big weight on there.
Interview by Gregory Andrus
Portraits of the Jersey Shore