Please welcome our newest SOI Sponsored Athlete Alex Castallanos. Alex is a 26 year old Firefighter and continues to make her mark in strength sports. Coached at the Battle Axe Gym in Miami. Alex has accomplished taking state title as a middle weight in 2019 Strongman Corp., went on to place top 10 in her first Arnold’s and top 5 at her first nationals. She describes her first competition "There was a moment right before stones, the last event… forearms taped, tacky webs in the air, sweat dripping into my eyes as I looked down at the bruises all over me. In that moment I knew this, strongman, is what I needed to be doing". We are honored to have her represent SOI!
Tell us how you started competing in Strongman?
- In 2017, I was prepping for my first powerlifting meet when found out about Miami’s Baddest. So, naturally I trained for both having no idea what was in store for me. Training at my previous gym 4 times a week to prep for the PL meet and going to The Battle Axe twice a week to learn and get my hands on the implements. I competed at the meet and the next weekend I was in a parking lot… sun blazing down, implements trying to crush the souls of those competing at Miami’s Baddest. There was a moment right before stones, the last event… forearms taped, tacky webs in the air, sweat dripping into my eyes as I looked down at the bruises all over me. In that moment I knew this, strongman, is what I needed to be doing.
What do you see yourself accomplishing in five to ten years?
- Five to ten years seems like such a long time, but I’d like to think that I’ll use everything I’ve learned in those years and pass it forward. Maybe coaching, maybe putting on a show of my own. There’s a lot of possibilities on the horizon and we never know what life will throw at us.
Are there any short-term goals you'd like to accomplish in the next few months to a couple of years?
- My main goal is to earn my pro card as a middle weight. All the work that we are putting in is to build me up, both physically and mentally, to accomplish this. And…Some state records on the way wouldn’t be half bad either.
What do you believe to be one of your weaknesses and what are you doing to improve it?
- Physically, pressing has always been the most challenging for me. Years of softball put some wear and tear on my shoulders. Focusing on strengthening the muscles around them is how we’ve decided to move forward. Being patient and consistent with my upper body and attacking my lower body to continue improving as a whole. Mentally, I can be pretty hard on myself and beat myself into the ground when I don’t perform the way I think I should. I’m learning how to take a second in these moments and look back at how far I’ve come, learn from what is happening and look forward to tomorrow being a new day to tear things up.
What do you believe to be your greatest strengths as an athlete?
- Physically and mentally, it’s my fight. It’s my tenacity, my unwillingness to give up on the things I love.
Do you have any hobbies or interests outside of training?
- I absolutely love doing anything outside. If I could climb trees and rocks and explore the wilderness everyday, I would AND barefoot! I also enjoy writing, drawing and painting and I’m planning to dive a little deeper into those things. But sometimes I just need a nap.
How do you manage your training responsibilities and other outside obligations?
- For me, training takes a front seat. I will typically arrange my work and social schedule around my training days. Luckily, my family and friends are very supportive and understanding and they do their best to work around me. I keep a planner,which doubles as my training log, to keep track of training, work and events. Balance is my goal with training being my focus.
Is there a coach or athlete that you look up to as a role model and why?
- Without a doubt I look up to my coach and the battle axe clan. But my first coach and mentor was my grandfather. When I decided to play sports he was on the field with me everyday after school and on weekends. The lessons I learned on that field with him didn’t just prepare me for sports but for life. He always had a way of teaching me life lessons in the middle of drills and using softball as an analogy for what the world would throw at me. What he’s taught me and continues to teach me has played a huge part in making me the athlete and woman I am today.
Describe your major highlights and achievements in this sport
- I took the state title as a middle weight in 2019 and went on to place top 10 in my first Arnold’s and top 5 at my first nationals.
What keeps you motivated day to day to continue training?
- I want to win. I want to be the best version of myself. I’m not the best at everything, I’m not the strongest or the fastest but I will always work. What’s the alternative?
If you could go back and tell yourself a piece of advice for when you first started training, what would it be?
- “Be patient” Strongman is very much like life, it is unforgiving. It will test you, both physically and mentally, every single day. It will strip things away from you and you have to be patient and consistent and put in the work to get what you want, and when you do that, this sport can give you some of the most amazing things… if you just hold on.
Would you like to add any other comment or piece of advice?
- Pass it forward. I would not be where I am today without the things that were taught to me by others. Stay humble and always remember where you come from.
Video and image credit to Gabriel A. Torres