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Meg Squats looks to change the shape of things to come

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Professional powerlifter and ISSA certified personal trainer Megan Gallagher is known by over 230,000 subscribers to her YouTube videos and her 328,000 followers on Instagram as @MegSquats, and make no mistake about it, she has the quadriceps to justify it.

But the “stage name” also involves a bit of irony. For starters, the squat, Gallagher’s obsession when she began videotaping her powerlifting workout sessions four years ago, is no longer her strength among the three disciplines of powerlifting (bench press and deadlift are the other two). More significantly, Gallagher’s success and popularity is built on the platform that athletes — particularly women — should not be pigeonholed or limited when it comes to strength and fitness.

That message gained a much broader audience last December when the 29-year-old Gallagher was named the 2018 woman spokesmodel.

“In the past they have always run the contest as an actual bodybuilding competition,” Gallagher said. “ I presented myself as more of a hybrid athlete, because I have done both powerlifting and bodybuilding. When I entered the contest I wasn’t into bodybuilding at all; kind of the opposite. Part of my message was to try to convince people to train for strength without really worrying about aesthetics at all.

“Of course, bodybuilding is built around aesthetics. So when I entered I was a little scared. I wasn’t sure how it was going to go over. People go to for information on fitness, and I wanted to present myself as the person who represents the strength aspect of that.’’

Gallagher was among the 10 women who were chosen by the staff to advance in the contest. From there, the public was able to vote for their favorites, with five finalists moving on.

At that point, Gallagher and the others were brought to the company headquarters in Boise, Idaho, where they took part in a photo shoot, went through a series of interviews and learned what life is like as a member of the team. The winner was then selected following a boardroom meeting with company leadership.

“I was hoping I would win, but I was really focused on being in the moment for every stage of the competition,” Gallagher said. “I tried to enjoy everything that was happening as it was.”

Gallagher received a $10,000 prize and a cover photo on Train magazine. Throughout the year she will make appearances on behalf of and has developed a strength program for beginners that will appear on the website.

Not bad for the self-described chubby kid who realized four years ago that spending time in the gym was about so much more than simply trying to drop a few pounds. She had friends at the gym who were training for a powerlifting competition, so she joined them in their workouts. Powerlifting became her passion. She liked the fact that she could have control over how her body looked, and yeah, she’s into big muscles.

Originally from Athens, Ohio, Gallagher now lives in Los Angeles, where she operates her business, Strong Strong Friends, which features an equipment and apparel company and online strength coaching. She became an ISSA certified trainer last year.

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Gallagher’s connection to YouTube began in the early stages of her powerlifting training when she decided she wanted to share her experiences with other women who might have an interest in the sport.

“I knew that not everybody had a chance to train in a place like I did, where there were a lot of people who were very supportive,” Gallagher said. “Not everyone can find that in their own gym or their own city. So I wanted to be that friend online that I had in real life.”

With the number of YouTube subscribers she has amassed, Gallagher feels a sense of obligation to provide worthwhile content. Her videos are at different times motivational, informative and entertaining. A current featured, entitled “Train Like a Pro,” has Gallagher following the training programs of various professional athletes. Examples include going through the workouts college football players are put through at the NFL Combine, following Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn’s workout and the training methods used by rugby players.

Gallagher’s focus the past year has been on building her business, so she fell short of her goal of entering two USA Powerlifting events each year. She did, however, enter the USAPL nationals last year and finished 14th in her weight class (63 kilos, 138.89 pounds).

“The two years before that I was typically in the top 10,” Gallagher said. “The U.S. has the best (female) powerlifters in the world, so if you’re in the top 10 in the U.S. you are among the best in the world.”

Along with her commitments associated with winning the contest, Gallagher is determined to devote more time to training and entering powerlifting events. She is at the prime age for competing and wants to take advantage of it. She also wants to take full advantage of her growing celebrity.

“My goal is to get barbells into the hands of more women,” Gallagher said. “I really feel that barbell training is the secret to inner strength as well. I want to continue to help facilitate that confidence, and let it be known that getting stronger is something that women should be doing.” 

Dean Spiros

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