Hi! I'm Margie Lempert. This is the story of how Iron Maidens came to be.
In 2011, or thereabouts, I started teaching small group barbell workshops for women at CrossFit South Brooklyn. My goal was to create an intimate, unintimidating setting for women to focus on not only technique, but also the mindset of barbell training.
Like many girls and women, my experience with barbells came later in life. I found the lessons of slow but tangible progress, persistence, self-reliance and new physical capacity to impact my identity immeasurably.
This transformative practice was something I hoped to share with other women.
After teaching several workshop series, I thought it was time to have a little competition. With steadfast support from CrossFit South Brooklyn, we put on our first all-women powerlifting competition for members of the gym. I remember having to prod women to sign up.
That day turned out to be one of my favorite days I’ve ever had. All these people turned out to watch - it was a party. And the women just went after it. Even the most timid competitors found something unexpected on the platform. It was a truly surprising and electric experience.
Fast forward to 2015, when we decided to reboot the now regularly occurring meet for CFSBK members as Iron Maidens Raw Open.
It was time to expand beyond our doors.
A new opportunity for community emerged: women throughout the region connected; CFSBK formed new alliances with neighborhood businesses; and the support from volunteers was above and beyond.
In 2016, we first partnered with Grace Outreach and Danae McLeod to form the Stay Strong Scholarship for their students, many of whom are undocumented or first generation immigrants receiving career and education services.
This relationship embodied the scope of Iron Maidens: women supporting other women who are trying really damned hard.
I am proud that competitors have continuously stepped up to the plate and made an impact on recipients’ lives.
Over the years, we have built a team of committed volunteers, supporters, prize donors, and spectators. The age range of the lifters gets younger and older, they come from further and further away, but their experience levels remain diverse and the camaraderie never fails.
This truly is a group effort of love and it is inspiring that so many people care so much.