We are proud to have Erin Murray Worlds Strongest Woman u73kg🥇 representing Sisters of Iron. We asked her a few questions about her journey into strength sports and her best advice for others. Take a read!
1. Tell us how you started competing in Strongman?
I did not grow up an athlete...I was always required to play a sport, but I hated them all and was really more into academics and music. I started college intending to major in mathematics and french horn performance, but my second year ended up dropping out to get more involved help with an eating disorder. The camp I went to included daily martial arts as part of our therapy - a way of appreciating the body for what it can do instead of what it looks like. Turns out I was pretty damn good at it, and really loved the sense of empowerment it gave me, so I continued training after I returned home. This is where the snowball started...I started doing crossfit to get stronger for martial arts, but then ended up really enjoying that community. I gravitated more towards crossfit, but realized I preferred the strength elements of the sport which eventually led me to powerlifting which I competed in for a few years. And then I fell into strongman in college when some buddies of mine put on a fundraiser competition to raise money for them to compete over seas - I just did it to support my friends, but it was game over from there. I fell in love with the sport more than all the others that led me there, and I've never looked back!
2. What do you see yourself accomplishing in five to ten years?
My main goal in this sport is to make history. I don't necessarily care about individual titles - I care about the big picture. 20 years from now, I want people to look back at all the greats and be definitively at the top of that list. And I want to be one of the first women in strongman to make a living as an athlete. You see that in many of the top heavyweight men in the sport, that they're making very comfortable livings off of prize money, sponsorships, endorsements, etc because of their abilities. Most of the rest of us in the sport compete as a side hobby to our "real jobs"...I want to see that change.
3. Are there any short-term goals you'd like to accomplish in the next few months to a couple of years?
Well the next year is mostly about just grinding in silence, getting bigger and better, not only physically but mentally/emotionally as well - because the overarching two year goal that started in the beginning of 2021 was to do World's back to back years in different divisions and become the first strongman athlete to ever hold world titles in two different weight classes. Last year I cut down to the u73kg class, and this year we're building back up to 82kg and planning to win again. That is the only thing set in stone currently, but after accomplishing that I'd love to get my heavyweight pro card so that I also hold that in different weight classes as well. Then we may start looking at open class or world record opportunities? It's still uncertain and I'm in no rush - I'm aware that the things I want to do may very well take another decade in this sport, but ultimately I plan to be the most decorated strongman athlete by the time I'm done :)
4. What do you believe to be one of your weaknesses and what are you doing to improve it?
I do believe that I've gotten much better, but I still have a lot of work to do on my confidence and self advocacy. At the end of the day, I know that I will put in the work needed to accomplish whatever task I have my mind set on. Historically though, lack of confidence in the form of nerves have caused me to make mistakes in contest that aren't reflective of my abilities. I would say that 2021 World's was the most confident I've ever gone into a show and because of that I made far less mistakes than usual. This of course can always be improved, and more importantly carried into my daily life outside of those few days on the contest floor. Self advocacy is becoming increasingly important now that I want to negotiate and push for more support as an athlete; selling myself has never been my forte, I'm sure that also ties into the confidence issue - but I also recognize that making a living doing this is going to require being a bit more relentless in that department. I've found myself a great support system that pushes me in that area though and it helps tremendously. Surround yourself with people who hype you up!
5. What do you believe to be your greatest strengths as an athlete?
An unhealthy level of obsession? LOL...I'm incredibly stubborn and have a crazy need to be the best at things I invest my time into. On a deeper level, I think what that comes down to ultimately is willingness to make sacrifices to short term happiness in pursuit of a long term goal. As a disclaimer, I do not advocate that any of my clients live the way that I do. Balanced lives are in general healthier and more sustainable for the vast majority of the population. But being the best at anything inherently requires a huge lack of balance in your life. Whether or not you'd call that a strength, I believe that my ability to sit in this discomfort and focus on a largely intangible goal is why I've gotten to where I am as an athlete.6. Do you have any hobbies or interests outside of strongman?
For the vast majority of the past decade of involvement in strength sports, I'd have genuinely said no...BUT I actually did get really interested in makeup during the quarantine shutdown days as a way to stay sane! And like anything that I invest my time into, I didn't just want to do makeup...I wanted to DO MAKEUP. I watched so many tutorials, researched brands, started following makeup artists, and started collecting. Now that the world isn't really on pause anymore, I don't have as much time to sit and create as I used to, but I have really grown to love really unconventional and special effects-type makeup. I married these two loves for the first time at World's by showing up in Viking-inspired makeup to compete, and have since been labeled the girl in the war paint which I LOVE. So that'll be around to stay, and I hope the trend takes off for others too because it's so fun!
7. How do you manage your training responsibilities and other outside obligations?
Well it became much easier to balance after quitting my job in May of 2021 and deciding to work for myself. Now I build my work schedule around my training schedule instead of the other way around, which does help tremendously. This interview is actually coming at an interesting time in my life though where I'm working toward reconstructing my life again. I've realized that sometimes you have to manifest the life you want by just choosing to live it. I'll be cutting way back on work and switching to almost exclusively online coaching so that I can start living my daily life as a full time athlete. Unfortunately, total financial support for women in this sport isn't there yet...but it can be. So instead of sitting back and waiting for it to happen, my coach and I have decided the risk is worth it to focus all energy on being on the front end of that change. It's terrifying, but at 28 years old with no kids or family responsibilities, it's probably the only time in my life when this risk will be realistic. So why not?
8. Is there a coach or athlete that you look up to as a role model and why?
You know, I've watched the Eddie Hall documentary several times since I've started thinking about the career change I talked about in the previous question, and it's been my biggest inspiration to go for it. And it's because he took the leap and ended up doing exactly what he said he was going to. He quit his job, started living the life he wanted before it was a reality, and in that way manifested everything he set out to do. I want to view the next year the same way - grind in silence, put in the work, take the risks, accept the sacrifices, and at the end of the year, show up and do exactly what I promised.9. Describe your major highlights and achievements in this sport.
Well I started strongman back in 2016 I believe...I was pretty good at it from the beginning, but I definitely did not have a meteoric rise by any means. I did the local show - nationals - arnold circuit for 3 years, slowly getting better each time around, until I finally won the national championship in 2019 in the u82kg division. After that I went on to compete at the Arnold in 2020 where I took second place by less than a point, which was both exciting and infuriating! The rest of that year was kind of a wash for me; I decided to train to compete at nationals as a heavyweight to get a second pro card, but showed up and tore my calf on the first event. I was signed up to do America's Strongest Woman a few weeks later, which I should have dropped out of but didn't, and to no surprise had a pretty lackluster performance there as well. It was at that point I decided to do OSG World's the following year (I wanted a really big redemption win LOL), spent the year training for it, and in November 2021 earned myself the World's Strongest Woman u73kg title.
10. What keeps you motivated day to day to continue training?
Knowing that I'm capable of great things, and the fear of getting to the end of my life and realizing I didn't live up to what I could have been. I want all of my hard work to matter beyond the finite number of days I'm physically on this earth.
11. If you could go back and tell yourself a piece of advice for when you first started training, what would it be?
Surround yourself with people who believe in you, push you to be better, are supportive of all your crazy goals and have crazy goals themselves. You ultimately are who you surround yourself with. Also, something I'm still working on, is making sure you're living the life that you want - not one that you feel like is expected of you, or one that society tells you is acceptable, or one that you think other people will approve of. At the end of the day, you spend SO much more time sitting with your own thoughts and feelings than other people's. Find the thing that makes you excited, and pursue it unapologetically.