23W Members Spotlight: deb loats (2.0)

By Tarlee

Fitness journey’s come in all shapes and sizes. And as time goes by, we love supporting our members to continue to set, hit and exceed their goals.

Three-plus years into her journey with 23W, we took a moment to reconnect with Deb Loats, a regular in our evening training times. We first interviewed Deb for a 23W spotlight in early 2020, where she spoke about her triumphs in gaining strength and weight and nurturing her love for exercise.

Today she shares how her confidence has continued to skyrocket in the weights room to smash new personal bests and break through self-limiting beliefs. 

Remind us of why you got started with us in 2019?

One of the best ways to prevent bone density issues in your older age is regular weight-bearing exercise, which is what got me interested in researching specific strength-focused gyms. After just a few sessions, I also noticed that it helped improve my sleep, because I was both physically and mentally tired, as opposed to just the latter.

What challenges did you come across when you started?

Something that bothered me when I first started, was that I felt overwhelmed by the terminology of different exercises.

You really don’t need to put that kind of pressure on yourself when you first start. You will be connecting dots before you know it.  Another thing I had to figure out for myself was the times that suited me best for training. While an early morning gym session sounded great, I could never regularly drag myself out of bed, so I adapted to working out in the evening. I’m usually in the 6:30-7:00pm Strong sessions.

Your goal at the end of last year was to be able to perform a back squat with the bar on your back. What timeline did you give yourself?

The original goal was a single 30kg back squat. Which at the time, I honestly thought that I was stretching myself, because it was so far beyond what I had ever done before (usually 15-20kg, but not more than 25kg previously). It turns out that I was much stronger than what I gave myself credit for. During the lifting party, I did a full bodyweight squat (50kg). I also put on 2.5% of body fat, which is crazy when I have historically struggled to put on any additional weight.

I set my 30kg back squat goal as a part of the 6-week challenge, so I gave myself the full program to prepare myself for it but smashed it out in the first week. That meant that the rest of the time I could focus on moving up gradually from 30, to 40 then 45kg.

What steps did you take?

Fun fact: I have a bad habit of over-complicating things, so this time, I decided to go with the flow a bit more. Given that I’d committed myself to the challenge, all I needed to do was to a) do the homework, and b) show up. By default, that meant I was automatically thinking about what I’m eating, when I’m resting, and at what times I need to train.

How did it feel when you a loaded back squat pb at our lifting party?

It was a bit of a strange feeling, because I have never really approached the bar will so much adrenaline. The single rep was also over very quickly, and I had a sense of my mind taking care of my posture and position more automatically. That certainly helped take the pressure off, knowing that I had trained for this moment, and support if I needed it.

Have your goals changed now since you achieved the back squat?

After spending some time focusing on performance-based goals, I have shifted more towards tracking-based goals. For instance, at the beginning of this year I wanted to make it a daily habit to write down what I’m eating, when I’m training and how I’m feeling – even if it’s only a couple of lines. I’m already starting to see both positive and negative patterns emerging, which is giving me more insights into my weekly check-ins and the tiny adjustments I can make to my habits.

 If you could go back in time to your 2019 self, what would you say to her?

When people say they “can’t” do something, they generally will not even try to do it. I thought I couldn’t add weight to the barbell, so I didn’t. If I could go back, I would tell myself that I am the only person who can place limitations on myself.




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Our founder

Ange Drake is an personal trainer, women’s empowerment coach and fitness blogger in the northern suburbs of Melbourne. She is the director of one of the few womens’ only strength training gyms in Melbourne, 23W. Ange helps women to learn how to use strength based training, nutritional strategies and a positive mindset to transform their bodies, relationship with food and mind.

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