A Conversation with Kristin Perissinotto, Powerlifter

As part of our ongoing blog series, we will be sitting down and have conversations with a number of advocates in our local community. This week we speak to Kristin Perissinotto, a powerlifter.

What is your name and role, and what is your passion in life?

I'm Kristin Perissinotto, and I'm an under 72kg powerlifter. Powerlifting is absolutely my passion. I love the training, competing, and especially the community. I train out of Strength Sports Gym, and am so lucky to be surrounded by so many supportive people there. I train with mostly men, as expected with a strength-based sport, but I don't feel different in my gym environment, which is great! I train with a few awesome women who inspire me every day, and there are many super strong women in the sport who I look up to and motivate me through the tough sessions. I post a lot of training footage on my Instagram, where we have a pretty big community of #girlswhopowerlift. I absolutely love seeing women getting into the sport and getting strong and feeling good. I think powerlifting is a fantastic way for women to feel empowered as well as do good for your body and mind. 

Why do you do what you do? 

I powerlift because it makes me feel good mentally and physically (most of the time - haha!). I love feeling strong, and training is an amazing outlet. I can leave all my other stresses and worries at the door almost all the time. After almost two years of powerlifting, I definitely look like someone who strength trains, and I rarely go anywhere without someone asking me what kind of training I do. While this can be irritating at times, I do love being able to tell people about it and spread awareness of the sport, as it isn't very well known. I always encourage women I know to get off the treadmill and pick up some weights. Trust me, it's more fun, you get to see progress every week, and you're not going to gain 10kg of muscle overnight. I take every opportunity to go on about the misconceptions about women getting 'too bulky' when they lift weights. First of all, women don't (naturally) gain muscle like men do, and it takes A LOT of work in the gym and in your diet to gain serious mass. Second of all, what's wrong with having muscles as a woman? Apart from the fact that I can never find clothes to fit, it's only ever benefited me. Your body size and shape has nothing to do with being a woman.

Are you a feminist and what does feminism mean to you?

Absolutely! I was fortunate enough to have a pretty 'non-gendered' childhood. I don't ever remember being aware that I was a girl and that it meant I might feel as though I have miss out on some things that boys got to do. It wasn't until high school that I experienced this. My high school mandated that girls wore long skirts with our formal uniforms. Shorts were not available. This made me feel limited, physically uncomfortable, and annoyed that someone else got to dictate so specifically what I could wear. I started noticing social rules that had the potential to limit me as a woman. In my adult life, I've chosen to ignore those rules, and I try to do what I want and encourage others to do the same. For a while, this made me feel like there wasn't as much inequality as I'd thought. Unfortunately I had some encounters with individuals who have made it clear that there still are issues prevalent, however that realisation has made me more determined to make a change. To me, feminism simply means rejecting societal rules for women. I'm not interested in how the world wants me to look, feel, talk or act. The issue closest to my heart is the portrayal of women in sport in the media. I can't stand talk about how a female athlete's body looks instead of focusing on her athletic feats. 

What do you think is the most pressing social problem today (globally)?

In my opinion, it's global equality. Some humans shouldn't be above others, regardless of gender, race, class, nationality, career, etc. etc. Almost all the problems in the world are based on someone thinking they are above someone else, and therefore get to dictate how they live, what they're worth, and what they can say or do. 

If there was one resource you think everyone should view, what would it be?

I've recently started listening to a podcast called 'Guys We F***ed' on Spotify. It's funny and easy to listen to, and the hosts (NYC comedians Krystyna Hutchinson and Corrine Fisher) aren't afraid to talk about uncomfortable social issues. They talk about sex, race, politics, rape culture, and heaps of other 'taboo' topics. They have guests on every episode which means you get to hear from a wide range of people with different backgrounds and experiences. I think it's a great resource for everyone because it's usually lighthearted, and I think easier to digest for people who may not be interested in or ready for heavier content.