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Linacre Ladies that Lift (Linacre Women's Powerlifting Society)

What lifting with us is like. . .

Linacre Ladies that Lift – students, Fellows and staff, and their spouses and partners – train in the Linacre gym between 19.15 and 22.30 every Wednesday of the year except for Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.  We also train most Saturday mornings from 09.30 to 12.30, and if there are free places we welcome women from the wider University (students, staff and academics) to the Saturday session.  We welcome all women, cis and trans, as well as people who have a complex gender identity which includes ‘woman’.  Practically we welcome people who are comfortable joining a women's club and are happy to be addressed as 'ladies' in our emails.  We are a varied group of all ages and abilities/disabilities who benefit from excellent structured coaching.  Some of us compete in other University sports (e.g. rowing, athletics); some of us compete in powerlifting events regionally and nationally; some of us train for general fitness and confidence.  Women wishing to join us can email with their goals, any experience of lifting (including maximum weights), and any disabilities or relevant injuries.  You will receive an email reply telling you how to sign up for the next available session.

Thanks to the Common Room budget grant and two generous donations, forty-five Linacre women and twenty-five University women from outside Linacre trained with the club last academic year.

We are often at our capacity of fifteen women, in and out of term, at our two training sessions.  Because it is not practical for more than fifteen women to train at one time, and because of the increasing popularity of the club, we have a weekly sign-up system, with priority for Linacre women.

Information about joining…

We welcome new members throughout the year. A maximum of two new lifters are inducted per session to ensure that newbies receive enough training.  If you would like to attend a session please email telling us:

  • what your goals are
  • whether you have lifted before,
  • what your weights were
  • whether you have any disabilities that need to be taken into account

You will be added to our mailing list and receive the weekly sign-up email on Mondays as well as more detailed information about attending your first session.  You don’t need to wear any specialist clothing – normal gym kit is fine, but flat-soled trainers (such as Converse) are recommended. 

Your first session will be free, with the following fees applying on any subsequent sessions:

  • Linacre students, and staff up to and including Grade 4:  £3 per session
  • Linacre post-docs: £5 per session
  • Linacre admin staff (Grade 5 and above) and academics:  £7 per session
  • Partners and spouses of Linacre students: will be asked to put themselves into an appropriate category
  • non-Linacre students, and non-Linacre staff up to and including Grade 4: £5 per session (non-Linacre members can attend Saturdays only)
  • non-Linacre post-docs: £7 per session (non-Linacre members can attend Saturdays only)
  • non-Linacre admins (Grade 5 and above) and academics: £10 per session (non-Linacre members can attend Saturdays only)

No one will be excluded for financial reasons.  Anyone to whom the fees present a financial difficulty can approach a club officer to arrange a different financial contribution, or none.

Emma-Ben Lewis (left) and Catherine Walter with their trophies

Power, Strength and Character…

Ladies that Lift regularly compete in British Drug-Free Powerlifting Association Regional competitions.  LLtL member Emma-Ben Lewis (on the left) and LLtL Captain Catherine Walter also competed in the 2016 BDFPA National Single Lifts competition.  Emma-Ben won the 2016 British Women's Squat Championship for the Open 90kg+ bodyweight category.  Catherine won British Championships and set new National and World records for the squat, bench press and deadlift for her age and bodyweight category (65-69 years, ≤58.5kg).

In February 2015, Catherine Walter won the OUSU Outstanding Senior Member Award for her work with Linacre Ladies that Lift.   A group of Linacre Ladies, along with our Coach, Shehzad Naqvi, went to the gala celebration at the Town Hall to participate in this recognition of Linacre’s excellence in improving the student experience at Oxford.



Women of all levels of ability and disability gain fitness, strength and confidence from the club.  These benefits extend beyond physical fitness.  Here is a sample of the feedback from members:

"Lifting with LLtL was one of the highlights of my time at Oxford. The instruction and feedback were exceptional, and it was a privilege to be part of such a supportive community. Learning how to lift was empowering, both physically and mentally." ​

"The coaching is of extremely high quality and questions are always encouraged, which has been very important to me. I love LLtL because of the atmosphere it provides: a safe environment where everyone gets support in training as much or as little as they like, surrounded by strong women. That alone would be reason enough for me to keep lifting".

"I joined LLtL during a very tough time of my DPhil, between finishing my experiments and trying to make sense of all my work of the past four and a half years. The great atmosphere of the Wednesday lifting session became my favourite getaway, kept me sane, and helped me discover how strong and stubborn I can be. The club also made it to my thesis acknowledgements!"

"After sustaining an injury in 2013 that limited my lifting and refused to heal, LLtL has shown me the value of seeing problems from different angles. I initially saw my injury in black and white - heal and lift (which wasn’t happening), or give up lifting. The support of the coach and the team allowed me to look at the problem as one of accommodation: What lifts am I able to do? How might I modify a lift so that I can keep building strength without further injury? This ability to accept my limitations and work with them has carried over to my personal and academic life".

"As I have a minor disability, I had assumed that I would never participate in the sporting aspect of Oxford life, particularly as a member of a club. But the condition has caused very few problems when it comes to lifting, so instead, I've been able to improve my fitness and integrate into the life of the College and University more than I had ever thought I could".​

Hall of Fame

National & World Champions (BDFPA & WDFPA):

Sarah Cannon (-63kg, Junior): 2013 Scottish National Champion

Emma-Ben Lewis (90kg+, Open): 2016 British Women’s Squat Championship

Catherine Walter (-58.5kg): 2014 Overall Female Masters Squat Champion (Masters 6); 2014 National Full Power Champion (M6); 2015 National Full Power Champion (M6); 2015 World Full Power Champion (M6); 2016 National Single Lift Champion in Squat, Bench and Deadlift (M6); 2016 World Full Power Champion (M6) & Overall Female Silver Medalist; 3rd in the All-Time BDFPA Rankings for Female Masters (over the age of 40) Unequipped Full Power lifters.

Laura Walton (-80kg, Junior): 2013 Scottish National Champion


Emma-Ben Lewis (90kg+): 2016 National Squat record

Catherine Walter (-58.5kg): National & World records in Squat, Bench and Deadlift & Full Power in years 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017 (M6 & M7)

Participation in University-level Competitions:

Isabel de Berrié: Varsity 2016 (achieved a ‘Half-Blue’), Varsity 2017, British University Championships 2017

Lina Girdvainyte: Varsity 2017, British University Championships 2017 (contributed to the team score, OU women placing 3rd)

Qualified for 2018 National BDFPA Championships (28-29 July 2018):

Lina Girdvainyte (-53kg, Open)

Eva Masmanian (-63kg, Open)

Polly Thisdell (-50.5kg, Open)

Catherine Walter (-58.5kg, M7)

National BDFPA qualifications achieved in previous years:

Isabel de Berrié (-63kg, Open): 2015, 2016

Ellie Ott (-50.5kg, Open): 2015, 2017

Catherine Walter with a table full of her trophies in spring 2018