The power of love

Story and photos by Christine June
U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern

Nine-year-old Caitlin Materla thinks it’s kind of funny, but her 7-year-old brother, Ian, said he thinks it’s a good thing their parents are competing in a power lifting meet.

As their children watched and cheered, Thomas and Maureen Materla competed for the first time together at the Army’s Installation Management Command-Europe Invitational Power Lifting Meet Dec. 8 at the gym on Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.

“I’m only in it (the meet) because my wife is in it,” said Thomas, who has lifted weights for 25 years but never competed before. “I thought it would be nice for a husband and wife to do this together.”

Representing Kaiserslautern, the Materlas were among 12 lifters from Germany, Italy and Portugal competing in seven weight classes in squat, bench press and dead lift events. Maureen took the female 148-pound (67.5 kg) weight class title and had a combined lift of 540 pounds (245 kg). Thomas placed second in the male 275-pound (125 kg) weight class, lifting a total of 1,223.6 pounds (555 kg).

***image2***It was Thomas who got his wife interested in power lifting when they met 16 years ago in San Diego, but it was Maureen who encouraged her husband to compete.
She first competed last month at the meet in Heidelberg, where she also grabbed the title in her weight class by lifting a total of 479 pounds. She said competitions are a way for them to lift together again.

“When we met, we used to work out together all the time, and then it stopped when we had children,” said Maureen, who started lifting again last year.

Every week day, Maureen gets up at 5 a.m. to work out for an hour-and-a-half before going to work at the hospital. Thomas, who is a retired Army major, drops the children off at school and works out for three hours, five to six days a week.

“He’s too serious,” said Caitlin on why she wants to work out with her mom when she gets old enough. She said three hours is a long time to be in the gym.

Ian said three hours working out doesn’t bother him. “I can do it.”

Maureen said her children can’t wait to be 12-years-old so they too can work out at the gym. Both Maureen and Thomas feel they are showing their children that physical fitness should be a part of their daily lives.

When someone at the meet asked, “So a family who lifts together, stays together,” Thomas replied, “I hope so.”

The Materlas plan on competing in future military tournaments together, as long as these meets are in Germany. The next IMCOM-E  meet is April 19 in Vicenza, Italy.