Every month, we like to recognize and celebrate a team member who has gone above and beyond in their work and achieved exceptional results. This month, we are thrilled to shine a spotlight on Akiko Stojek, one of our most outstanding athletes and a valuable member of Marble Weightlifting.
As a Master’s Athlete, Akiko is over 35 years old and has been competing in weightlifting competitions for our team with impressive dedication and discipline. Over the past year, she has made tremendous progress since joining our team and working remotely with Coach Mike, who provides valuable feedback and support to help her improve.
Under Coach Mike’s guidance, Akiko’s lifting numbers have skyrocketed from the 60s to the high 70s, and she has won several medals at Masters National competitions. Her success is a testament to her hard work and determination, and we are proud to have her on our team.
I had the pleasure of asking Akiko a few questions about her weightlifting journey, and she graciously shared her thoughts and experiences with me.
Where are you from? How long have you been in the US?
Born and raised in Japan for 30 years. 28 years (since 1995)
Were you active as a youth?
Yes. I never engaged in team sports for school but always liked doing something outside rather than being sedentary.
What got you started in Weightlifting?
In short, CrossFit. I never liked working out with machine (boring)
I was asked by a colleague to join her team for an obstacle course event (City Challenge Jersey City) back in 2015 so I started going to CrossFit at work(non Profit) just to see if I could climb ropes (one of obstacles at the race). The idea of lifting the weight from the floor to overhead all by myself was a lot more appealing than any other sport. I felt so independent, powerful and in control. It’s a whole body exercise in a few ‘simple’ movements.
When COVID happened, all gym equipment was sold out but I had to do something to stay active with what I had at home. Then I found out about an ad for a Zoom Oly lifting course by Aileen Wu on Instagram with the title “all you need is a PVC pipe”.
After the course, there was no going back, I got hooked.
What drew you to Marble Strength?
My very first meet in October 2021. I had a remote coach outside US, but no coach for the meet. You assured me I could get one at the meet. Your email with YouTube link was helpful, your replies to my email were quick and professional. I met Marcy, then she introduced me to Coach Mike as my coach for the meet. All of you had me at HELLO when I wasn’t even looking for a gym I wanted to belong to.
What were your goals and did you achieve them?
My first goal of 2021 was to compete in a local meet and make the total. Then my goal for every meet was to increase my total. Overall goals are to get my bad habits corrected and get stronger for better total.
What is your favorite part about your experience at Marble Strength?
Community, your passion about weightlifting, you care about our passion of lifting
Has your life improved since joining Marble? If so, in what way?
Yes! You welcomed me with open arms! You had me at hello. It was so nice to know that I wasn’t alone anymore. Most of my bad habits have been corrected, I get immediate feedback even though I’m remote. I got to know fellow lifters who train hard to improve themselves and also understand your struggles. I’ve tried a few gyms before but never felt as comfortable and inspiring as Marble.
Whats your next goal?
Increase my total to 90 by the end of this year. Also, I’d like more women my age or older to start lifting so I’d like to learn more about coaching as well.
What advice would you tell yourself a year ago?
Why didn’t you start competing sooner?
Love it! Thank you, Akiko for being so amazing! Keep up the hard work and we will definitely see you on some more podiums!
Catch Akiko and the rest of the team competing at the Freehold Spring Lift Off on Saturday April 29th at CBA in Lincroft!