World-Class Athletes Who Choose NiTOR
Leslie Hofheins World's Strongest Woman: 2016-2017, IPL World Record: Squat, Deadlift and Bench, 2018.
Leslie Hofheins is truly a weightlifting hero. Hers is a powerful story of overcoming obstacles, finding your own inner strength, and believing in the power of “you.” Today she stands as the two-time Strongman Corporation’s World’s Strongest Woman, but her road to greatness was anything but smooth.
Leslie started swimming at 14 and became an All American and State Champion in swimming and water polo in high school. She swam through college and was even a powerful force on the men’s water polo team. Over the next decade she had to two beautiful boys and what she thought was a promising relationship with her friend and trainer. But what she thought was love led her down the darkest path she would ever walk.
Her loving relationship turned physically and psychologically abusive. Gone was the joy and romance, replaced by fear, selfishness and pain. Leslie’s pride and past accomplishments were stripped from her along with any future ambitions. Day after day she suffered under a barrage of demeaning criticism and violence from the very person that should have been her best friend, confidant and supporter. Her life and her accomplishments spiraled out of control. Finally, Leslie hit bottom and placed a loaded pistol in her mouth.
When the pistol misfired, it changed her life forever.
This close-call served to reawaken Leslie’s inner strength and her competitive spirit. She realized that she had allowed another person to take control of her life, to limit her goals and ambitions, and to define her as someone unworthy of those ambitions. She extracted herself from that relationship and began the long, difficult task of rebuilding herself.
She turned her attention to her 19-year-old son who suffers from a debilitating illness that has left him unable to walk or care for himself. “My biggest struggle in life has been seeing my son … not able to do the things he would like to do. As a mother, I would give anything to have my child experience what most of us take for granted.” She found great strength in her son’s positive attitude, who never complained about his difficulties and who always cheered his mother on. With a mother’s love, she went back to the gym where she fought to regain her physical strength so that she could lift him from bed to bath to swimming pool to wheelchair. Enabling him to be active and involved enabled Leslie to find purpose in her life.
At the age of 40, Leslie put herself through the fire academy and became the first female class officer the academy had ever had. “I led 18 men during my time as a class officer. They have become like brothers to me.” She began competing in weightlifting and Strongman competitions where she found a love for the competition and a hard-earned talent for the sport. In 2016 the Strongman Corporation held it’s first-ever Strongwoman Competition where Leslie was named The World’s Strongest Woman. In 2017, she soundly defended that title, and in 2018 she set new IPL World Records in bench press, deadlift and squat. “I often have women come up to me at competitions after watching their husbands lift. They are impressed by seeing a woman compete in heavy lifting competitions. Most of them say they had no idea women could compete. Most of the times they ask if they can try some of the events. I tell them they can set personal goals and achieve anything they put their mind to. It sometimes isn't about being the strongest but about showing other women that anything is possible.”
Leslie is currently developing a relationship with her local police department to teach officers about the effects of domestic violence and the emotional side of reporting. She is also working toward becoming a motivational speaker. “I want to reach women that are suffering from self-limiting beliefs that others have put on them. I want them to understand that abuse does not define who you are or what you will become.”
Chris McGrail President and Founder Utah Powerlifting, 955 lb. squat All-Time World Record at 5x body weight, 800 lb. deadlift RAW World Record at 4x body weight, competing at 181 lbs.
Chris McGrail graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point with a degree in Engineering Management and Mechanical Engineering. While on active duty, he completed his Master of Science and Master of Business Administration degrees and earned several professional certifications including: US Army Master Fitness Trainer, Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), and NSCA Certified Personal Trainer.
As an Army Officer he deployed to the Middle East multiple times in his career and was awarded the Bronze Star and Presidential Unit Citation in conjunction with his combat service in Iraq. During the initial Iraq invasion in 2003 he was one of the first combat troops to enter Iraq, and he helped spearhead the assault on Baghdad that toppled Saddam Hussein’s regime and liberated the Iraqi people. During that “Thunder Run” mission, Saddam’s forces ambushed Chris’s team with chemical weapons fire. Chris and several members of his team suffered from the exposure, and three soldiers were killed that day. Like many of our brave heroes, Chris returned home from war bearing physical and mental scars that he will carry throughout his life.
Because of the chemical attack, Chris’s immune system was compromised and he suffered a host of health problems. After multiple tests, treatments and surgeries, Doctor’s eventually had to remove his large intestine. These severe, ongoing health issues ultimately forced him to retire from military service at the rank of Major in December 2010.
Following these life-changing surgeries, Chris’s doctors told him that he would never weightlift again because of the damage to his muscular core and because his body would perpetually struggle to digest and assimilate protein. Despite these obstacles, Chris’s tenacious spirit refused to accept defeat. As soon as he was sufficiently recovered, he headed back to the gym.
With many initial setbacks, Chris managed to find a way to continue his athletic training to become one of the best strength athletes in the world. In pursuit of reaching his true potential, he earned numerous world titles in the sport of powerlifting to include winning the Olympia Pro Invitational Deadlift event four times and setting several world records at middleweight in the process. His crown athletic achievement however was setting an all-time squat world record (regardless of federation or division) with a 955 lb lift, 5x his body weight. Currently he has the best pound for pound squat and deadlift in Utah state history and continually grows stronger with personal bests at over 800 lbs. in the deadlift.
Though his personal achievements are impressive, Chris’s success doesn’t end with him. As a sought-after strength coach and fitness consultant, he has trained numerous professional fighters for the UFC, Strikeforce, Pride, Bellator and the World Series of Fighting, including fighters Jeremy Horn, DaMarques Johnson, Sean O’Connell, Josh Tyler, Jake Heun, Bobby Green, David Allred, among others. Other notable clients include multi-world Submission Grappling champion Brandon Ruiz, two-time World’s Strongest Woman Leslie Hofheins, and Powerlifting Olympia Champion Andy Mower who has several IPL World Records and the biggest Deadlift ever in Utah at 843 lbs. Now known as the “Strength Sage,” Chris teaches his Louie Simmons inspired “Conjugate 360 Training System” to anyone looking to build extraordinary strength whether they are first responders, military, professional athletes, or ordinary “Joes.”
Debbie Millet USA Weightlifting National Coach, USAW Coaching Educator, Owner/Head Coach Praxis Weightlifting, 2-time Masters World Champion, 4-time Masters National Champion
As a former figure skater and dancer in school, I was always active. But after the birth of my second child at 38, I found myself deconditioned and carrying a lot of extra weight. Cardio was just not mentally engaging for me, so I looked for a better way to build strength without sacrificing too much family time. In my search, I came across a video clip of a girl doing the Olympic Snatch. I replayed the video over and over as this small, feminine girl walked up to a heavy barbell, reached down, picked it up and threw it over her head in one smooth movement. It was so balanced, so symmetric, so powerful, so fast -- I was sold. I searched for a coach and immersed myself in the sport of Olympic weightlifting.
Weightlifting was exactly what I wanted out of fitness, both mentally and physically. A very technical sport, there is so much to learn about generating power using correct positioning, coordination and timing. No longer was I struggling mentally to get through a workout but was instead completely engaged in the process. I stopped worrying about what my bathroom scale read and became much more interested in each kilogram I could add to the barbell through precise technique and proper nutrition. Less than two years later I was 117 lbs and competing in a new sport. As I entered my 40’s I set state records, won four Master’s National Championships, two Master’s World Championships, and competed at two Senior American Open competitions. My enthusiasm for the sport gave me the opportunity to work with Olympians in developing a weightlifting DVD program for home training.
I’ve grown to love what the sport of weightlifting does for people of all ages both mentally and physically. Wanting to share weightlifting with others, I opened Praxis Weightlifting Center in 2008 where I’ve been privileged to train hundreds of incredible athletes. My love for the lifting environment has allowed me to serve meet director for the country’s most premier events: current USAW National Coach and USAW's coaching educator for Utah; USAW Senior National Championships in 2014; USAW National University Championships in 2015; USAW Olympic Team Trials in 2016; Field of Play director for IWF World Championships in 2017; USA Masters American Championships in 2018.
My current focus includes the development of elite athletes and coaches, improving the Utah High School weightlifting program, and bringing national and international events to Utah.
Today, I make a daily choice to stay fit through Olympic lifts combined with a nutrition plan of clean foods and supplementation with the most efficient, effective protein available. As a coach of competitive national and international athletes, I search for nutrition supplements that will give my athletes the biggest performance advantage possible in a drug-free, clean, Olympic sport. My personal research has led to me choosing NiTOR protein for myself and my athletes.