COVID-19 has resulted in fitness addicts and gym-junkies not knowing what to do with themselves waiting for their favorite gym to fully open back up. Some Zags, however, have found ways to stay active during the pandemic which was on full display in the Rudolf Fitness Center weight room last Sunday.

Oct. 18 marked the second Iron Zag event that the RFC Intramural staff has organized. Iron Zag is a modified powerlifting competition comprised of three events: bench press, squat and deadlift. The scoring is based on the total amount lifted divided by the participant’s body weight to determine two winners.

The two female winners were Taryn Hilts-Hoskin, lifting 3.2 times her body weight, and Megan Curran, lifting 3.5 times her bodyweight. The male winners were Scott Stewart, lifting 6.5 times his body weight, and Ajay Raghubansh, lifting 7.3 times his body weight.

“I was just here for a good time,” Curran said. “I was working on my technique a lot this summer because I didn’t have weights or a gym to go to, but as soon as the RFC opened up, I’ve been here lifting.”

“I’ve been using [the RFC] six days per week,” Raghubansh said. “I’ve been working really hard and staying on top of nutrition this year which I was not doing last year, which is like half the battle.”

This is Raghubansh’s second consecutive time winning the Iron Zag competition.

Rhian Thomas and Jorden Upton are two RFC directors who were both responsible for organizing this unique event. They were tasked with accomplishing the same environment as their first Iron Zag competition where participants were incredibly loud, rowdy and supportive towards other competitors, pushing each other to try and hit personal records with every lift.

“Last year, we had about 70 people down in the weight room, and then just with COVID-19, numbers and social distancing that’s not really possible [right now],” Upton said.

“We were super stoked to even get any people to [compete in Iron Zag] and then also being able to have spectators and people cheering on because that’s the biggest part of it is having that fun competitive atmosphere,” Thomas said.

The environment created for the Iron Zag is unique to any other intramural sport organized by the RFC by emphasizing having fun and supporting others as opposed to a sole focus on winning.

“It was so fun,” Raghubansh said. “The support again just like last year was absolutely insane, so fun, so supportive, it’s a great atmosphere.”

Those who did not end up winning the competition did not come away from the experience empty-handed. For them, the RFC weight room is a place to get better and push limits. Many participants ended up lifting heavier weights than they had ever done before setting personal records.

“The best thing about the whole competition is getting better,” Upton said. “People that didn’t win lifted their heaviest weight and [hit personal records] in every lift. I think that’s what it’s all about, everyone just getting better through the competition.”

Ethan McReynolds is a contributor.

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