Kunkletown middle school teacher flexes her muscles as powerlifter
While Mary Lynn Barner’s middle school students are doing their homework, she’s training to compete in a powerlifting competition.
Christmas Carnage, a sold out competition, at SYR CrossFit in Allentown is set to be held today.
Barner admits she uses her ability to lift nearly 1,065 pounds between squat, deadlift and bench press to keep order in her classroom.
“You realize I could lift you with one arm,” she said she tells her students. Barner teaches social studies and religion to sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders at Holy Family School in Nazareth.
Her eighth-grade students were eager to talk about their teacher’s powerlifting abilities. One after another said it was cool and how proud they are of her.
“If there’s an intruder in the school, she can take him down,” said John Baron.
“In the spring, we have a field day and at the tug-of-war, it’s really fun to see her pull everyone down,” Henry Grimm said.
Barner, of Kunkletown, works out most nights with her trainer Lori Barth at Savage Wolves CrossFit in Nazareth.
“Mary Lynn is such an amazing athlete,” Barth said. “She is ridiculously strong and has so much more potential.”
Although Barth hasn’t been coaching Barner for very long, the two have known each other for awhile.
“We competed against each other,” Barner said.
“In just the short time I have had the privilege to coach her, she has gotten stronger every day,” Barth said. “She has a monster deadlift and squat, and I have seen her PR her bench. I am already proud of her.”
Barner said her current personal record is 365 pounds in squat, 200 pounds in bench and 435 pounds in deadlift for a total of 1,000 pounds. She thought the total weight goal to qualify for the elite level at the Arnold Classic in Ohio – a personal goal – was 1,045 pounds. It isn’t. The actual weight is 1,065 pounds.
“I could get to 1,040. That’s easy. The 65 is going to be a short order, but not something I don’t think I can do. It’s not unheard of,” she said.
The day before the meet, Barner said she is excited and confident she can meet her goal.
“I try to put worry aside, because I know I can do it,” she said. “I just go in and grind everything out. I’ll push through until the last measly morsel is done.”
Barner got into the sport sort of by accident. Her friend invited her to participate in a cancer fundraiser that involved powerlifting. That was two years ago.
“Being able to be as strong as I humanly possibly can be,” she said is the drive behind why she pushes herself.
“It makes me feel good,” Barner said. “I can’t run, because I feel like I’m going to die. You put a barbell in my hand, I can do amazing things.”
She jokes that her mantra is if you see her running, then run faster because something is probably chasing her.
All joking aside, Barth said Barner “puts the work in which makes my job easy. We had a few short weeks to prepare for this meet, but she is working hard lifting a lot more to prepare.”
One of her students, Antonio Caiazzo said, “Miss Barner is a good powerlifter, but she’s a better teacher.” Which was meant as a compliment.
To which Brian Laurito added, “I know some students have said that the teacher they’re going to miss the most (when they graduate) is Miss Barner.”