Heavy Metal And Mental Health

At 62, Stephanie Misaki-Whiting is still competing

By age 50, most folks are slowing down or trying to decrease the pace of life. That is not the case for Princeville’s Stephanie Misaki-Whiting, who, at that age peaked in a sport mostly dominated by men.

Now, at 62, she has gathered a long list of accolades in competitive powerlifting. Misaki-Whiting, who’s in the 105-pound weight class, has competed in nearly 70 meets in 28 years, including 12 national competitions and three international contests.

In 2007, she was nominated to the USA Powerlifting Women’s Hall of Fame. Just in case you don’t know what powerlifting consists of, here’s the breakdown: bench press, squat lift and deadlift. Sounds exhausting, right?

Not to Misaki-Whiting, it doesn’t, as she plans to keep lifting till her arms fall off. That’s really how much she loves it.

All this heavy lifting began in 1982 in Wisconsin, where she lived with her husband Dennis for 30 years. They lived close to a YMCA, where she saw others lifting and found it fascinating enough that she thought she’d try it out for herself.

“It was actually when I saw a competition that I was hooked,” she says.

Misaki-Whiting also found inspiration from her mother, who was a competitive swimmer. Throughout the years, while getting more and more into the sport, she and Dennis felt one thing was missing. As it turned out, Kaua’i was calling.

“We’ve always wanted to live in Hawaii,” she said. “We knew we were going to have hapa children so we decided what better place to raise them, where the culture is so diverse and special.”

So just two years ago, they made the move to the Garden Isle. Misaki-Whiting trains at Kauai Athletic Club, which includes dead-lifting once a week, benching twice a week and squatting once a week.

“When I first started, it was just training, but I’m just really surprised at what I’m able to do,” she says. “Now I stick with it for the mental aspect and I’m also involved in the organizational aspects of the sport, concerning drug testing – that’s important to me.”

Misaki-Whiting’s goal is to keep staying healthy and working as a psychotherapist. She has a master’s degree, and has written a number of papers on subjects including anger management. Google her name and it’s her professional accomplishments that pop up.

Her husband, by the way, is proud to have such a strong-willed partner.

“He tried it out himself, but didn’t like it,” Misaki-Whiting said.

Despite her many accomplishments in the sport, she feels that helping start the powerlifting program in Special Olympics in Wisconsin is by far her proudest moment in this heavy-lifting adventure.

“It’s exciting, a little nerve-racking, but I love it,” she says.

And that love continues, as next month Misaki-Whiting will compete in Santa Clarita, Calif., – her 67th meet in 28 years.

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