Competitive Powerlifter Zoë Goykhman ’24 Sets Records

Zoë Goykhman ’24 is a dedicated student athlete who continually finds strength through fitness. For her, it is a part of her daily routine that centers her, teaches her resilience, and encourages her to push herself to try new things. When she experienced a career-ending tennis injury ahead of her junior year, she felt at a loss without the sport that had become an integral part of her life. That is, until she discovered powerlifting. Zoë subsequently now holds all of the Pennsylvania state records for female powerlifting in her weight and division and is number two in the country.

With the encouragement of her coach, Johanna Blume (known as Jojo), Zoë began to lift initially to help rehab her elbow. Through lifting, Zoë found something she felt she was missing, and she pursued it with fierce determination. The personal self-fulfillment she finds through lifting and the message it sends to other female athletes and powerlifters fuels her: own your strength and athleticism.

Zoë competes professionally in powerlifting competitions—for which preparation takes months in terms of training, diet, and exercise. She is on record as squatting 314 pounds, benching 176 pounds, and deadlifting an impressive 429 pounds for a total of 920 pounds. Always looking ahead, Zoë is already working towards the national and world deadlift record for the division up when she turns eighteen years old.

When asked about George School’s role and her powerlifting aspirations, Zoë expressed that she is grateful to have the community’s support behind her including from her coaches like Jojo, advisor Dar Sheth, teachers, friends, and spaces on campus such as the Learning Center to help with organization and time management. “I feel very supported in reaching my goals by the George School community,” Zoë shares, which includes the balance that is encouraged between academic, athletic, and personal goals and commitments.

When she’s not training, doing schoolwork, or competing, Zoë still builds time into her busy schedule to coach young female athletes ranging from ages seven to eight as well as high schoolers. “I think it’s really important for me to work on myself and be the best me that I can be, [but I also] think it’s important to help others reach their goals.”

She encourages the female athletes she works with to tell themselves “I can do hard things” – a sentiment which has driven her own growth and strength. Helping build self-confidence in female athletes is meaningful work to Zoë alongside her efforts to help redefine a space that has been traditionally male-dominated.

“I’m a huge proponent of female participation in strength sports,” Zoë shares. She, too, reminds herself that she can do hard things and takes it another step further. Her internal motivation when lifting is driven by several statements, two of which include “I’m able to conquer heavy” and “I’m able to conquer difficult circumstances.” Powerlifting is not for the faint of heart, and Zoë embraces the challenge with both grit and grace.

Her advice for those, especially female athletes, looking to try something new or get into strength sports? “Do not be afraid to take up space.”

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