KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) – There are only about 15 official United States Powerlifting Association meets scheduled in the state of Tennessee this year – and Kingsport Fitness housed one of them on Saturday.

More than 60 competitors from across the state packed into the gym to put their skills to the test. An official USPA meet give participants three lifting attempts in three categories: squat, benching and deadlift. A participants’ best lift will be counted towards their final score in a point-based format.

Powerlifters of all ages showed out in front of a supportive crowd, as multiple new state and national records were set.

While some of the top competitors are able to lift hundreds of pounds throughout the various disciplines, meet officials and participants agree that powerlifting is a surprisingly accessible sport.

“Everyone’s like ‘I could never do that’ but like, the way we have weight classes, age divisions – different events … the barrier to entry is nothing,” meet director Christopher Nicolai explained.

“This is an anybody sport, because when I first started, like when I was younger, I could barely bench maybe 100 pounds,” competitor and Jonesborough native Daniel Eagle said. “But now I’m really high up there.”

The sport is not only caters to those with different strengths and abilities, but also athletes of any age.

“We have people here today from, I think, 13-14 years old all the way up to, I think our oldest one is 74 or 75 years old,” Kingsport Fitness owner Marlene Thomas said. “So if they can do it, anybody can do it.”

Nicolai also believes one of the unique features of the sport is the support powerlifters receive from other competitors.

“A guy tagged us in his videos last night and was benching like 350,” Nicolai said. “I remember a year and a half ago at his first meet he benched like low 200s. It’s really cool just to see our regulars make that progress.”

And Thomas says to host this community and this type of event at her gym is beyond exciting.

“To see our athletes go up there, step on that platform and to reach those goals they’ve been working very hard for, it’s very rewarding for us.”