Inspiration in action: St. Joe’s Medical Group’s Malorie Sutter is a nationally recognized weight lifter

Health care providers inspire us to eat well and be more physically fit with their expert clinical guidance. And they can inspire us with their actions as well. St. Joe’s Medical Group’s Malorie Sutter, a PA-C in the Orthopedic Surgery Associates practice is one such clinician. In addition to her rigorous day job, Malorie is a nationally recognized weight lifter, selected to compete in two prestigious events: University Nationals (April 7, 2017) and Senior Nationals (May 11-14, 2017).

Malorie reflects on the synergy between her avocation and her daily work, “When I interviewed for this job I told them orthopedic surgery and sports medicine blended both my personal and professional interests. There is a lot of knowledge from being involved in weightlifting that I can utilize with patients – like diet and exercise and vice versa, not to mention injury prevention. I could not be happier working as an orthopedic PA at St. Joseph Mercy, and I am so excited to share all of this.”

Malorie signed up for her first local meet at the end of July 2016 and ended up qualifying for University Nationals and the American Open by hitting a total of 140kg (65kg snatch and 75kg clean and jerk). At University Nationals in New Orleans last September, she placed fifth overall in the 53kg weight class with a total of 143kg (65kg snatch and 78kg clean and jerk). The American Open was in December in Orlando, Florida, and she placed 18th overall and qualified for Senior Nationals at that meet with a total of 149kg (68kg snatch and 81kg clean and jerk). The Senior Nationals competition represents the best of the best: the top lifters in the country with only 15 to 30 people competing in each weight class.

For those unfamiliar with the sport, competitors have three chances to hit their best snatch (lifting the barbell from the ground to overhead in one continuous motion), there’s a ten minute break, and then three chances to hit their best clean and jerk (moving the barbell from the floor to a racked position across the Deltoids, without resting fully on the Clavicles, and then raising the barbell to a stationary position above the head, finishing with straight arms and legs, and the feet in the same plane as the torso and barbell).

Malorie explains, “It’s organized chaos! The weight on the bar is always increasing so you can never go down. You declare what your openers will be when you weigh-in two hours prior to the session. There is a lot of switching at the last minute, so people may see my name up the board like I’m supposed to go next, but then I might decide to go up in weight if I need to in order to better my place … or if I’m feeling really great! I lift for Lily Weightlifting, a club based out of CrossFit Lily in Ypsilanti. My coach, Jeff Pillars, is actually the one that taught me how to use a barbell when I started CrossFit nearly five years ago so it’s been really special to share the success with him.”

On a final note, Malorie is keeping St. Joe’s in the family. “My fiancé Michael Kwiatkowski  [who was a Michigan Wolverine football player] will be graduating from pharmacy school at U of M in a few short weeks.  We are very excited he matched at St. Joe’s. We are actually getting married right before he begins! ” Congratulations to Malorie and Michael on all of these exciting developments.

Malorie Sutter’s tips for someone starting out in Olympic weightlifting

Here are Malorie Sutter’s tips for someone starting out in Olympic weightlifting:

  1. Olympic weightlifting is for everyone. I know it can be intimidating to start for a variety of reasons, but there is no right age, body type, gender, etc. We were all beginners at some point! Anyone can do it and everyone can benefit from being stronger.
  2. Find yourself a good coach. It is a very technical sport and it is important to have someone that knows how to safely teach the snatch and the clean & jerk. Do your research to make sure a coach is certified and has experience.
  3. Progress in Olympic weightlifting is very personal. Although everyone performs the same lifts, we all have different strengths and weaknesses. You should keep records of your lifts so you can gauge your own improvement and continue to push yourself to new maxes.
  4. Olympic weightlifting is a marathon, not a sprint. It takes years of hard work and dedication to gain the strength and technique you see in Olympians. Some days are harder than others and you cannot set a PR (personal record) every day. That is why it is important to celebrate every victory whether you set a PR, improve your technique, or just had a great training session.
  5. Have fun! The Olympic weightlifting community is incredibly supportive and encouraging. You do not have to be a competitive weightlifter to appreciate how great it feels to have everyone cheer for you while you lift.
    Malorie is also featured on the Healthy Joes page.

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