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RACINE – Lifelong Racine resident Alex Ersing won the 165-lb. open division and set a national record with a bench press of 331-lbs. He earned the title at the National Athlete Strength Association (NASA) USA and Team Nationals powerlifting competition held Saturday, June 26 at the Wyndham Garden Hotel near Oklahoma City, OK.
It wasn’t just another record for the 34-year-old owner of Mt. Sinai Gym, 2005 Lathrop Ave., Racine, who started competing ten years ago and holds over 60 powerlifting records around the U.S. and is undefeated in six national competitions.
Competing drug-free his entire career, Ersing enters three powerlifting events each year while also competing at strongman competitions and obstacle course races. He especially likes competing at the NASA Powerlifting events because of its founding principle of “maintaining the rules and stability of organized powerlifting under a true drug-free environment.”
The record he set at the NASA USA and Team Nationals in Oklahoma was for a raw, unequipped bench press in a division that included competitors from any age group.
“Anyone 18 to 100, if you’re in the open division, I’m against you,” he explained. “You’ve got young bucks. You’ve got old-school guys. You’ve got really experienced guys. That’s the most competitive division and to break a national record in that felt really good.
“I put a lot of work into this. It’s a lot of science that goes into it. There’s a lot of variables that go into it with diet and making sure you make weight. And then, on top of all that, there’s a huge mental aspect,” he said after pressing more than two times his body weight to set the national record.
“To have it all payoff, it feels phenomenal.”
Deadlifting becomes a family activity for the Ersings
What felt even better was watching his team’s success.
In Oklahoma, the team included his 10-year-old daughter Aubrey Ersing, who finished first in the youth division, and his 7-year-old son Noah Ersing, who finished first competing as a youth in the deadlift competition.
The NASA USA and Team Nationals team competition pitted nine different states against one another, competing in each division.
Made up of athletes from the Relentless Team Ersing trains and coaches out of Mt. Sinai Gym, Team Wisconsin finished fifth despite entering only seven competitors due to injuries, which prevented a full roster from competing and earning points in every division.
Along with Ersing and his daughter (Noah Ersing did not compete in the team competition), Team Wisconsin included Ivan Bakardzhiev, James Newman, Justin Jarrett, Chris Fish, and one extraordinary young woman.
Gabriella Moffett is one of over a dozen Special Olympics athletes Ersing trains and coaches at Mt. Sinai Gym.
She finished first in multiple divisions at the NASA USA and Team Nationals, including the 132-lb. powerlifting competition.
“She teared up when she won,” said Ersing, who graduated from Case High School in 2005 and worked 12 years in construction at J.H. Findorff to save enough money to buy equipment and open the gym at 2005 Lathrop Ave. “There were a lot of different emotions when she won. A lot of high energy. Good energy.”
How Ersing started training athletes from Special Olympics
About two years before opening Mt. Sinai Gym, Ersing purchased some gym equipment from a woman who was involved in the Special Olympics. He told her if she had any athletes interested in training, to send them his way when he opened his gym, and he would coach and train them.
Shortly after he opened the 15,000-square-foot gym in June 2017, Ersing called her back with a reminder and today, Mt. Sinai Gym sponsors, trains and coaches nearly 15 Special Olympics athletes free of charge.
“I think a lot of coaches, trainers, people, in general, should be doing something like that, just paying it forward,” said Ersing. “Helping out where you can, whenever you can without looking for a return.”
After driving 12-and-a-half hours from Racine to Oklahoma City, Team Wisconsin competed for 12 hours on Saturday, June 26, as the NASA USA and Team Nationals got underway at 10:30 a.m. and the awards presentation didn’t wrap up until close to midnight.
“It was a true test on how bad you wanted it,” said Ersing. “I was super proud this whole weekend. With me winning just by myself, without everything else, that’s enough for anybody to celebrate.
“And then my kids won. We dominated in almost every division. And Gabby took first place in multiple divisions. I was just on cloud nine.”
Love for weightlifting started early
Ersing was only 10 when his older brother Danny got him into doing push-ups and sit-ups and eventually lifting weights.
“It just stuck with me,” he said. “I’d see him working out and it just inspired me. It gave me a role model.”
Twenty-four years later, that’s what remains most important to Ersing.
“I’m happy to bring the record back to Racine,” he said. “I know a lot of people are dealing with a lot of stuff right here and I’ve got a lot of love for Racine.
“I just hope it gives some inspiration and shows other families that ‘you can do it.’
“That’s more than this. That’s more than lifting weights.”
But Alex Ersing can bear the weight.