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Meet Amanda Harris (AKA Barbie Barbell). At 21, 5’4” and 125lbs, she is a 17 time World Champion Powerlifter. Amanda has broken 468 state, national, and world records over the last 12 years with 95 competitions, and won all 95 meets.
Q– So Amanda, in which events do you compete?
Amanda Harris (AH)– The squat, bench-press, and the deadlift, but I’ve also competed in push-pull meets (bench-press & deadlift only), as well as bench-press only meets.
Q-What are your best lifts?
AH– My biggest and best lifts have been 420lbs. in the squat, 265lbs. with my bench-press and 365lbs. with the deadlift. Little girls are not supposed to be able to do things like that.
Q-Can you give us a little background on your story?
AH– I was 8 years old when I first started lifting weights. My brother and my dad had been powerlifting for years. It is a real blessing that my family is into lifting weights, because I was diagnosed with acute scoliosis at the age of eight. The doctors wanted to place me into a Halo brace, which is major surgery where the doctors drill bolts into the skull and insert steel rods down the length of the spine, and finish it off with a corset looking device to keep me from twisting. I was also born with cleft feet and had to wear leg braces for the first 2 years of my life just so that I could learn to walk properly.
My parents did not want to see me in another brace for three more years of my life, especially in the Halo, so they did some more research and decided to take a different approach. We got with the very best chiropractor, Dr. Edward Group and started a very intense training program that would strengthen my back and core muscles and support my spine by increasing the strength in the muscles along the spine. I also used an Inversion table where I would hang upside down every day for 10-20 minutes.
I started training with my dad who is a great strength training coach. The combination of all the treatments increased my strength, realigned my spine and allowed me to compete in powerlifting. In fact I have been traveling and speaking about what I have accomplished in my young life despite my physical setbacks. Swan Publishing wrote and published my story in 2012. The book is titled “Against All Odds, the story of Elite Athlete Amanda Harris”.
Nothing in my life has been normal. My goal is to launch my book in a very unique way. I am planning a bicycle ride around the border of the United States (lower 48) a 10.000+ mile ride and attempt to complete the ride in 150 days or less. I will be stopping in towns every day and speaking to churches, schools and organizations about my life story and promoting my book. I will also be raising funds for Operation Homefront that aids military families in need of help to pay bills or provide them with food and clothing. I have been so blessed in my life and I want to give back in a special way and help the families of those who defend our nation and allow us to live in such a great country.
Q- What do you love best about the sport?
AH– This is my families sport, and I grew up lifting weights. I couldn’t imagine life any other way. As for the sport of powerlifting, it is unlike any other out there. I can say the biggest benefit I’ve had from powerlifting is that it gave me my health and straightened my spine. It also gave me a great relationship with my dad. He’s my mentor, my coach and a really awesome dad! My mom is not a lifter but she is there in support.
Q- Can you explain your nickname & how you came to have it?
AH-My nickname is Barbie Barbell. I don’t hide my real name, when I compete; I am announced as Amanda Harris AKA: Miss Barbie Barbell. When I competed at age 9, I was very small and people would say I look like a little Barbie doll. My good friend Kara Bohigian goes by the nickname Bench-Press Barbie. I noticed that she always had her makeup and hair done so perfect when she competes, and I wanted to do something like that. So when I was 12 I talked it over with my family, bleached my hair blonde and took the name Barbie Barbell.
Q- Where do you see yourself going in the sport of powerlifting?
AH-. I’m only 21 yrs old and many women do not peak with their strength until they are in their 40’s. So I have plenty of time to come back and win some more titles and set more records. I’m not going to do any full meets in 2013. My focus in on my book and my 10,000+ mile bike ride around the US promoting Operation Homefront. I will continue to lift and make a return to full meets on the near future.
Q-So what is next for you Amanda, and how can the public reach you?
AH– My goal is to get recognized in the main stream public. I want to be a role model for young women. I plan on becoming a motivational speaker. I have been attending Toastmasters meeting for the last 8 months and honing my speaking skills in preparation for the upcoming book tour. I will be producing workout DVD’s and plan on writing a few books. I have also created another unique opportunity that will help combat the epidemic rate of child obesity in our country. It is called “Push N Up America”. It is an effort & rewards fitness program designed to condition the body and reward the children’s efforts. 100% of the profits from this program will be donated to Operation Homefront.
To learn and see more of Amanda Harris, be sure to check out her Facebook page.