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Nine-Year-Old from Heaven

I am a middle school teacher and competitive bodybuilder. I have been training for 32 years. I am writing to tell you about my 9-year-old daughter, Heaven. She came to live with us 3 years ago and the adoption was completed last year. She has been to numerous bodybuilding competitions and fell in love with the women’s fitness competitions. So we started her in dance classes and last summer introduced her to gymnastics. A few weeks before her 9th birthday, she asked me when she could start training with weights. Not really taking her seriously, I told her when she was 9.

On her 9th birthday she reminded me that I told her she could start lifting.  So on January 18, 2012 she began a program of squats, deadlifts, pull downs, and presses in our home gym. We began with a multi set program with very light weight until she mastered the form.  A few months later the pull downs and presses began to serve as warm ups for close grip pull ups and dips. A month later, she was able to do wide grip pull ups. Roughly a month after she began weight training, we were at the park and she challenged me to a race. I couldn’t help but notice what a quick first step she had. She actually beat me in the first 20 meters of the race. Within 6 weeks she was running 100 meters in under 13 seconds. Her best time is 12:37, a phenomenal time for someone so young.  

She has also made remarkable gains in strength. Her current personal records (as of June 24) are 7 wide grip pull ups, 96 lbs for 15 reps in the squat, and 13 dips. A 5 pound, or even a 2 ˝ pound jump is too much for someone her size, so we are adding ˝ pounds (fractional plates) to each side when she reaches a rep goal.

Heaven doesn’t go all the way down due to the width of the dip bars. To avoid injury she stops when her upper arms are just above parallel. Her smile says she’s having fun—very important to her long-term success.

We shoot for a weight workout every 3-4 days [remember that she also dances and practices gymnastics], but she is quick to let me know if something is still sore. In that case we take off an extra day or 2. If she has a sleepover or a pool party, we skip another day. 

Heaven has a very unique kinesthetic awareness. If you demonstrate a movement—any movement (dance, gymnastics, or free weight)—she gets the form down very quickly. But what impresses me most is her work ethic. Once we were racing each other in the 100 meters. I would beat her but after several runs she noticed that the gap between us was closing. I was tiring and getting slower. She figured that if we kept after it she would eventually beat me. Heaven kept saying, “Let’s go again.” I stopped at 11 sprints or she would have gone on forever.

As we were walking into the house she told me that she is going to beat me one day. There is no doubt in my mind that she will. I don’t let her win, because I want it to mean something. When she does, we’ll celebrate together.

She is somewhat of a fussy eater so I just make sure we keep the junk food (candy, dessert foods, and chips) to a minimum. She doesn’t care for vegetables, so we serve them in disguised form, mixed in noodles or soups.  Another favorite is peanut butter and jelly with slices of banana on multi-grain bread.  She munches on apples and seasonal fruit freely throughout the day.

The muscularity Heaven has developed from the weights, sprints, and gymnastics is quite obvious. Occasionally, well-meaning parents in her gymnastics class have voiced their concern whether it is wise to have a 9 year old girl lifting weights. All I have to do is point out that Heaven is the only one in her class who has never gotten injured doing gymnastics. All the other girls are walking around with bandages around various joints and bands on their patella tendons. Her strength is light years ahead of girls (and boys) her age. You ought to see the ease at which she flies up the rope at gymnastics class.

Her genetic potential was obvious from day 1, but I never expected results like this so soon. Who knows, maybe she will win Olympic gold in say 2024?

Yours in health,
John Davidson

[Editor: All we can add is GO HEAVEN!]

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