Guest post written by Suzanne’s husband, Paul Jarley.
This adventure started with a Groupon. Seriously, one day she was running marathons and the next she was a gym rat. An addictive personality maybe, an adrenaline junkie probably, a headstrong woman certainly. So when Jim got her to change her approach to achieving her goals, I took note.
Like most things with Suzanne, when she’s “in”, she is “all in”. Not too long into this thing, she was organizing a team (you haven’t been organized until you’ve been organized by Suzanne). The MissFits were born, complete with their own website, eye-catching outfits, badass attitude and blog.
Frankly, the family’s acceptance took some time. Spencer and Isabella were initially horrified. (You can read about that in Suzanne’s very first blog post Mom, You’re Going to Lose.) Tyler was more accepting. He bought a card with a little kid on it struggling to lift a huge weight and wrote to Isabella: “Your mom could lift this.”
For me, the first sign that adopting the powerlifting lifestyle was going to be a family experience came when we went out to eat. Ordering at restaurants became an ordeal. I recall a meal where she substituted everything on the menu offering except the meat. After ten minutes, I just ordered the number 4 and handed the waiter my menu. He nodded and smiled in appreciation. I left a big tip.
Soon I learned there is a whole powerlifting culture, complete with its own cuisine, attire, language and rituals. Like all cultures it seeks to include by excluding: if you don’t know the rules, the lingo, and the icons, you can’t participate. And like all tribes, it has its devotees and crazies. Like the 1500 people who watched a video of one of my wife’s lifts including the weirdo who posted it to a dark site with the caption “watch the hottie who can lift a ton.” Apparently, in some twisted minds there is weightlifting voyeurism. Things like this could unnerve you, challenge you to keep pace, or both. But it serves as an important lesson for MissFit spouses– how you react to all of this is your choice and not your MissFits’ burden. They are just doing what they love.
When it defies expectations, it’s always going to make someone uncomfortable. Uncomfortable people do odd things. I have witnessed self-proclaimed straight women in restaurants come up to Suzanne just to tell her how beautiful she looks and men in outlet malls ask her if she beats people up for a living. Some people want to arm wrestle her. Others ask her to flex at her kids’ soccer practices. And of course there are the “why aren’t you bulky?” comments.
The truth is, Suzanne looks great in a dress or a singlet. This same woman can charm 700 guests with her grace and wit as hostess at a College event and then cheer on Rhonda Rousey at 2 am in a bar. She can drive Spencer and Isabella to endless soccer practices and games then still find time to come to Florida to be my wife. She is laser focused in all she does, but somehow is the only person who can ensure that I don’t take myself too seriously. It just so happens that she also kills it in the gym, lifting way more weight than most men
To an outsider, the MissFits may look like a contradiction–they defy stereotype –but to those of us who live with them, they are strong, beautifully complex women. I, for one, wouldn’t have it any other way.
Dr. Paul Jarley is the opinionated dean of the Business College at the University of Central Florida. You can follow his blog at https://pauljarley.wordpress.com/.