Danna Snow is a petite woman with a firm handshake.
Sitting in regular sweats on a Friday morning at Gold’s Gym on the South Hill, she looks like a marathon runner: wiry, toned and tan. Absolutely nothing in her appearance gives away the fact that she can deadlift 345 pounds – almost three times as much as she weighs.
“Many women think that if they lift weights, they are going to end up looking like a man,” said Snow, who’s also a licensed massage therapist and runs her own fitness classes. “That will not happen. You will not turn into a man. Women don’t have enough testosterone to look like that.”
Snow’s powerlifting career began in 1997, when a friend and colleague introduced her to the sport and took her to a local meet.
“I won – by a lot, actually,” Snow said. “And then I was hooked.”
Weightlifting remains a predominantly male sport, Snow said, but that doesn’t mean women can’t participate. There are lots of federations, clubs and opportunities to compete locally and across the country.
Still, including her, Snow can only count two women in Spokane who compete in powerlifting.
“Women are a lot more capable than they think,” Snow said. “Societal expectations limit what we think we can do.”
Originally from Moscow, Idaho, Snow moved to Spokane in 1995. She took up weightlifting to help recuperate from a rugby injury that resulted in neck surgery. “I was trying to find a way to get stronger again, to work out a bit,” Snow said.
Snow doesn’t take any supplements to stay in shape, and she doesn’t do a lot of aerobic exercise either. She keeps her body fat down by what she calls “eating clean,” even though occasionally she indulges.
“Caffeine is my drug of choice,” she said, laughing. “And I can have fun. I can have a drink, but it usually just goes right to my head, so no, I don’t drink a lot.”
Snow limits her white flour and sugar intake, and she stays away from products using artificial sweeteners.
“The fake sugar, I don’t know what that does to your body,” she said.
On her regular menu are lots of chicken and turkey, some fish, and lots of vegetables, salads, rice and whole grains.
“And I eat every two hours,” Snow said. “I have a plan. I make my lunches on Sunday so I don’t get tempted to go out and eat.”
Aside from her massage therapy business, which she has had for 10 years, Snow also runs an adventure boot camp for women.
“It’s really an outdoor exercise class for women only, and we meet at Manito Park,” said Snow. “It’s for all fitness levels. All you have to bring is a yoga mat and some hand bells.”
For other women interested in lifting weights, Snow recommends taking a class with an instructor at the gym, or finding a group of weightlifters to work out with.
“No one is too old to lift weights,” Snow said. “But it’s important to have good form or you can hurt yourself.”
She said her next lifting goals are to do a 300-pound squat, 225-pound bench press and 400-pound deadlift by 2010.
In some ways, lifting well is all about focus.
“I’ve learned that it’s not my physical ability that limits me – it’s my mental state,” Snow said. “Weightlifting challenges you and that opens up a whole new world for a lot of women.”