A 33-year-old Nevada County fitness trainer has set a new deadlifting world record for her age and weight division.
One would be hard-pressed to find a person who enjoys a personal challenge more than Jen Ayala.
On Nov. 15, the 33-year-old Nevada County fitness trainer set a new deadlifting world record for her age and weight division at The World Association of Benchers and Deadlifters competition in Las Vegas. Far surpassing the previous world record of 270 pounds, Ayala lifted a whopping 340 pounds — nearly two and a half times her body weight.
The deadlift is a weight training exercise in which a loaded barbell or bar is lifted off the ground to the level of the hips, perpendicular to the floor, before being placed back on the ground.
THE EARLY YEARS
A 2004 graduate of Nevada Union High School, Ayala studied forensic anthropology at Sonoma State and went on to work in the Sonoma County coroner’s office. She later went on to pursue a career in law enforcement and landed a job as a peace officer, working for California State Parks in Lake County.
“There wasn’t much to do in Lake County,” said Ayala, with a laugh. “I was bored and felt isolated — I needed a hobby.”
That’s when, in 2015, she joined a gym, and consequently found her passion.
“I had always been athletic,” she said. “Fitness and strength development quickly became a focus of mine. I wanted to push myself.”
Bodybuilding became a fun challenge for Ayala, who discovered that her body adapted quickly. After just two years, she was ready to compete in shows sponsored by the International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness, and the National Physique Committee.
“By that time I realized that I absolutely loved the fitness world,” she said. “It’s such a supportive and kind environment — and there is new research emerging all the time on the benefits of keeping your body healthy. I decided to change directions professionally and pursue a job in the field of health and nutrition.”
Ayala got her first job as a personal trainer two years ago and has never looked back. Today, she teaches strength and conditioning at Best Life Fitness Academy in Grass Valley, as well as kick boxing and personal training. She is also the on-staff nutrition coach.
Her personal love of setting a goal and holding herself accountable is what started her down the path of obtaining a world record.
“Setting goals helps me feel disciplined — it comes from always wanting to do my best,” she said. “It gives me confidence when I prove that I can do whatever I put my mind to. If there’s no goal, I feel a little lost.”
Ayala mentioned that the support she received from friends and family while on the road to setting a world record was a humbling experience.
“It was very exciting,” she said. “It felt like everyone went along with me, cheering me on. The community here at Best Life Fitness is very kind and supportive — they’re part of my family. I love it here. This is the best work environment I’ve ever been in.”
PERKS OF THE JOB
One of the most rewarding aspects of working as a personal trainer, said Ayala, is hearing clients talk about how much better they feel as they get into shape — as well as seeing them accomplish physical milestones they never thought they would reach.
“To the person who feels like they’ll never get off the couch, I want to say this: Time has not passed you by,” she said. “It’s never too late — never feel lost and hopeless. You just have to show up. People are surprised by their own progress. If you want it enough, it’s within your grasp.”
THE ROAD AHEAD
So what’s next for Ayala?
“I guess I’ve got to find a new way to push myself,” she said with a smile. “The challenge is to find a new goal that is challenging enough for me.”
To contact Staff Writer Cory Fisher, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4203.
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