Local women dominate Strongman competition


Pulling tractor tires across open spaces, lifting tree stumps in the park and moving massive rocks, proved fruitful for five local women, who traveled and competed in the North American Strongman, INC at Northborough, Mass. on May 15. 

Though most trained for a year or less, the five women from Crossfit Riverdale, a  training gym that recently moved from Van Cortlandt Village to Yonkers, dominated in many of the individual events. 

Riverdalians Anita Neveu and Phaidra Knight took first place in both women’s divisions, while Celestine Calpin, Maricela Camp and Alexandra Dantec, also either Riverdale residents or soon-to-be so, placed in eighth, ninth and 11th place, respectively.

With the most female participants ever competing in the event, 15 women from the northeast set out to be the strongest and speediest in the women’s lightweight and heavyweight divisions. 

Events ranged from flipping tires weighing 425 to 500 pounds, carrying kegs while running, lifting logs weighing more than 100 pounds, picking up a 250 pound bar as many times as possible in 60 seconds and hoisting 150-plus pound atlas stones multiple times. 

Phaidra Knight, winner of the Heavyweight Division, lifted that stone nine times in 60 seconds and did the same with the log press. Ms. Knight, who has played with the USA Rugby Women’s National team for the past 12 years, said lifting the log’s eye-popping amount of weight was not even the toughest part of the day. 

“It was rest. I didn’t get enough rest before the competition because I was training for so many different things. Resting and recovery is key and a difficult part. For the competition itself, I didn’t have expectations. I just wanted to see what it was about. … It was icing on the cake to win,” Ms. Knight said.

Local trainer and martial arts instructor Ms. Neveu, who also placed first, enjoyed the success of her second Strongman competition. She placed third in a competition in December.

“The best part of the competition for me was having everyone encourage everybody. We were constantly yelling for others to succeed, ‘One more rep! One more rep!’” Ms. Neveu said.

For the group of women, training and preparing involved technique, increasing weight and repetition. According to Ms. Neveu, the more unique and abnormal the workout and objects were, the better the workout prepared them. 

“I’ve been working really hard since September. I made a lot of progress. My trainer, Will, helped see to that. I try to push myself, but I never thought I’d do a Strongman competition. It was a check-it-off-my-bucket-list kind of thing,” said Celestine Calpin, an eighth place winner in the Heavyweight Division and local middle school teacher.

Many of the women plan to continue participating in Strongman, with another competition this month in Connecticut. 

“I’m going to compete in whatever comes in front of me. I constantly want to grow in my overall fitness. Come on out and try it. You never know what you can do until you try it. We’ve got people of all shapes, sizes and ages,” Ms. Neveu said.

North American Strongman INC., Northborough, Mass., Phaidra Knight, Anita Neveu, Crossfit Riverdale, first place