By Josh Hall
Herald Sports Editor
Carter Claflin got involved in the weight-lifting scene when he was 12 years old. His dad, Garry, was a powerlifter in high school and his sister Tayler, 19, followed in her father’s footsteps.
“It was something I wanted to try,” Carter said. “I ended up loving it.”
Garry and his wife, Sharon, opened Flex Fitness in Oct. 2016 when Tayler started becoming a more competitive powerlifter. She now holds multiple state and world records.
“It really goes back to my daughter,” Garry said. “She was showing a lot of promise in the sport.”
Around the time Flex Fitness opened, Garry met Courtney Thompson. Both are graduates of Evanston High School who were powerlifters.
When the gym opened, they noticed the interest in lifting was high among the youth in the community.
That sparked another idea.
“There were a lot of kids coming in with their parents, but they didn’t have good technique,” Garry said. “I got with (Thompson) and said, ‘Let’s get a power-lifting program going so we can teach power-lifting technique at an early age.
“We wanted them to learn the right technique now, so when they’re my age, they can still compete”
That’s when the Flex Powerlifting team was formed. And while it hasn’t been around all that long, the team has seen its share of success. In December, at a United States Powerlifting event in Pinedale, the Flex Powerlifting team combined to set 25 state records.
“Powerlifting has gotten a lot bigger in the town,” Garry said. “When you look at the small town of Evanston… we’ve got some pretty impressive strength.”
Carter took first in the 116-pound weight division for his age in Pinedale, and he plans on going to more competitions in the future.
“This is a sport I love.” he said.
Cash Nicholson’s story is similar.
“My dad was a body builder,” Nicholson said. “I was fascinated with working out in general. I looked up to my dad and was like, ‘I want to be like him.’”
Nicholson started with body building, and then began watching videos of lifting competitions.
“I thought, ‘Wow, that would be cool,’” Nicholson said. “I started training heavier and trying to get stronger instead of bigger.”
That work has paid off.
Nicholson, 15, took first in the 165-pound weight class for his age group in Pinedale. There, he broke eight state records — four of which were his own.
Koda Simpson, 14, is another member of Flex Powerlifting who started going to the gym with his mom.
It didn’t take Simpson long to showcase his ability, taking second place in the 130- to 145-pound weight division for his age.
“It’s more of an individual-driven sport,” he said. “It really makes you focus.”