Above left: Kristin receiving her record-breaking award at a Powerlifting competition; Middle and right photos courtesy of SABAH: Kristin on the ice instructing individuals with special needs.
Whether she’s at work, at the gym, or working with people in the community, Kristin Brown loves to challenge herself. A medical billing specialist at Weinberg Campus, Kristin – who will celebrate 10 years of employment at Weinberg this December – describes her job as “a little bit of everything.”
“I work with insurance companies, families, and residents. I like that I’ve been given the opportunity to get involved with lots of financial aspects of the campus, which keeps me challenged and engaged,” she says.
One little-known fact about Kristin may come as a surprise to many: Her hobby is power lifting – deadlift, squats, and bench press. She’s been involved in United States Powerlifting Association competitions for three years – in fact, she holds New York State records for her age and weight class in all three categories (deadlift, squats, and bench press), which she accomplished at her second meet ever in Niagara Falls in May 2021.
How did she feel when she broke the record?
“It was shocking! It’s a secret fact about myself because I don’t think you can tell when you look at me that I’m a power lifter. Only a few of my coworkers know,” she explains.
Kristin’s interest in the sport began through her friendship with a trainer and a desire to find something different.
“I never thought weightlifting was something I would do,” she recalls. “But I saw pictures of these strong, amazing women, so when I saw a Black Friday special, I decided to try it.”
Though she’d belonged to gyms for years, she typically got bored and wouldn’t stick with it.
“It’s the longest I’ve been able to stick with any exercise,” Kristin points out. Each time I go to the gym, there’s a new challenge. It’s fun to see the numbers change as the weight I can lift increases over time.”
It’s hard to imagine that this iron-pumping powerhouse underwent back surgery 7 years ago.
“When I first started powerlifting, I didn’t know if I could do it, but I haven’t had any issues so far,” says Kristin, who stresses the importance of learning proper form from a professional and gradually increasing weight. “I listen to my body and take a rest when needed.”
She works with a trainer/coach, lifting four days a week at a private gym and participating in two competitions per year. Kristin can’t say enough about the benefits of her sport, and she’s pleased to see more women lifting than she expected.
“Overall, the weightlifting community is very supportive of each other. It’s never too late to start,” she comments. “I didn’t start until I was 40. Many people are in their 50s and 60s.”
Kristin is often asked if she follows a restrictive diet.
“I lost 40 pounds and reshaped my body, but I eat more now than I did before!” she says, noting that she eats a high-protein diet which helps with muscle building. She believes that carbs are an important part of her diet, especially during a competition.
A native of Syracuse, Kristin graduated from Daemen College in Buffalo, where she studied Business Administration with a concentration in healthcare. Growing up, she was an avid figure skater and she really missed being on the ice – until a coworker told her about SABAH (Spirited Athletes Bold at Heart), a community organization that connects people with special needs to sports and other activities, such as nature walks.
Kristin initially volunteered with SABAH 2-3 days/week to help individuals learn how to skate. She was subsequently offered a job as an on-ice instructor for SABAH and now leads groups every week.
“I’m grateful that my job at Weinberg Campus gives me the flexibility to do volunteer work with SABAH. I’ve been lucky to be able to fit these things in,” Kristin says.
Between her full-time job, weightlifting, and helping children with special needs, this energetic powerhouse still finds time to be involved in the lives of her two nephews and a niece, cheering them on at their sporting events. Kristin also enjoys being active, hiking, and exploring Western New York.