As an emergency room nurse at Doctors Medical Center in Modesto, Shaina Vales is used to carrying a heavy load professionally. It turns out she likes to do it on her off hours too.
Vales and her boyfriend Gary Westrope train year-round working out with weights – the heavy ones.
Vales, who just turned 26, captured the Women’s Super-Heavyweight Division of the United States Strongman National Competition at the Minneapolis Convention Center on June 5.
It was her first-ever national event after competing in a variety of local power-lifting and strongman competitions for the past three years.
“It was stressful. I didn’t know what to expect from the competition,” Vales said.
In order to win, she had to compete in a series of events throughout the day. Included was an overhead press with 210 pounds coupled with doing deadlifts – eight times – with 435 pounds, and walking/running 100-feet with 225 pounds in each hand, according to Krista Deans, DMC spokesperson
Vales also had to carry and lift concrete balls over a 52-inch bar.
In the end, she proudly came away with the title belt.
“I’m really excited. This will open the doors for a lot more opportunities at the higher levels,” said Vales, who in turn qualified for the Pro Level event in October.
She has plans to compete in another national competition during that time.
Vales has called the Central Valley home for the past two years. Prior to that, she lived in Arizona and Texas while working as a paramedic.
“I started working to stay in shape for my job as a paramedic,” said Vales, who joined a gym thanks in part to a membership from a co-worker in 2018.
The owner of that gym eventually took notice of her power workouts, encouraging her to try strongman competitions.
After a series of smaller events, Vales, who was competing in Arizona back in April, qualified for United States National Strongman Competition in Minnesota.
As a nurse at DMC for the past year, her work schedule will vary, especially with the COVID-19 pandemic, but she said she strives to find the balance between job, workouts and family life – the latter includes spending quality time with Westrope and his children.
Vales trains four times a week for a couple of hours, using a workout coach and a nutritionist.
Her boyfriend Westrope is also her training partner and biggest supporter. They keep each other motivated during workout days.
Vales noted that the United States Strongman National Competition also proved to be a good experience.
“I learned to compete at the national level – the preparation, training, etc. – there’s no room for mistakes,” she said.