It was a bit of a puzzle to work out how to fit the huge weights and accompanying home gym system in the living room a year ago. “It’s really heavy,” smiled Deursen from her living room, which is also her gym and office. “Fortunately, we were able to distribute the weight across three square metres by placing a sheet beneath it. We investigated in advance how much weight a floor can take in addition to a concrete bearing wall. This proved to be a thousand kilos per square metre. Our system’s not that heavy.”

That’s why her huge black system is now standing where her cabinet used to be, with the cabinet being relegated to the hall. A bench for bench presses, a rack on which the bar with weights can be placed and red weights are next to this. “Prior to corona, we’d talked about maybe setting up a shed for training at some point in the future when we have a bigger home. We didn’t think it would fit here. But then corona came.” You can do more under pressure.


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Silver in South Africa

Van Deursen has been a data scientist at the General Management Directorate for almost two years now. “We’re responsible for general information services for the Executive Board and faculties and also manage university data that are available for data analysts.” In concrete terms: “I recently worked on a sustainability report, in which we examined how much EUR does towards the Sustainable Development Goals with respect to teaching, research and operational management.”

Van Deursen won a bronze medal at the Dutch Championships in 2018 after already winning silver at the World Student Championships in South Africa. She’s most proud of the latter award. Powerlifting isn’t the same as weightlifting, explained Van Deursen. The latter is an Olympic sport in which the bar needs to be lifted above the head using a special technique. “A powerlifting competition comprises three parts. The squat, the bench press, and the deadlift. You can attempt each part three times and your best attempt counts if it meets the conditions. You participate in a certain weight class.”

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Brazilian jiu-jitsu

Van Deursen started powerlifting when she was a student. “I started out doing Brazilian jiu-jitsu. That’s a really technical sport, and I’d not yet really mastered it. However, I really wanted to be strong enough for it. So I started training with weights a few times a week. And pretty soon I was hooked on powerlifting.” This proved easier to plan too. “The gym was around the corner, whereas for jiu-jitsu I needed to travel to another city. And powerlifting is really fun. We had a student association around this and we often trained together, so I got to know many people I could learn from.”

During lockdown, powerlifting has helped her relax after a day of online meetings. “I don’t have the luxury of a separate office that I can leave at the end of the day. The day passes by so quickly without having moved much, so it’s great to be able to train and get active physically.”

Competitions after corona

What is so great about powerlifting? “I really enjoy the fact that your progression is so measurable. You keep trying something that you can’t do until a certain point when you can do it. That’s great, isn’t it?” The first competitions are gradually starting up again. Will she take part? “I’m not sure yet. I’ve just recovered from an injury and first want to get back to my former fitness level. So for now, I’m mainly in competition with my own personal records.”