NB scientist by day, weightlifter by night. Meet Danielle Philibert

Danielle Philibert spends her days studying marine species in the Bay of Fundy.

When she’s not working out, however, she lifts weights and her muscles won her two medals at the Classic Open World Powerlifting Championship in South Africa this spring.

A toxicologist at the Huntsman Marine Science Center in St. Andrews, New Brunswick, the 29-year-old spends several hours a week training as a powerlifter.

When she started her PhD nearly seven years ago, Philibert was simply looking for a physical activity that could balance out the computer work she was doing.

« I’ve found that focusing too much energy on work really hurts my personal balance and my sense of fulfillment, » she said.

Philibert will not quit his day job. His first love will always be science. (Submitted by Danielle Philibert)

She went to the gym with no real plan, just for fun. But one day she decided to max out her lifts, just to see how far she could go, and realized she was stronger than she thought.

It was then that she decided to take up powerlifting.

She signed up for her first competition in 2016, again with no real plan or even a coach. From the first moment she stepped onto the platform, however, she said she was hooked.

« It’s been this journey of constantly adding weight to the bar, learning to improve my efficiency with movement, and over time I slowly got stronger and stronger, » she said. .

Philibert won the national championship in 2020 and broke records. She holds the national squat record of 208 kilograms and the national bench press record of 123 kilograms.

She has competed at the world championships three times, an impressive feat considering Canada can only send eight athletes to compete in all categories.

Danielle Philibert holds weights in a squat position.
Philibert won two medals at a powerlifting world championship in South Africa this spring. (Submitted by Danielle Philibert)

Since COVID-19 disrupted the competition schedule, Philibert also participated in the world championship in Sweden last fall. She called it a tough encounter, where she didn’t win a medal.

« I was kind of hungry for more, so I knew that training cycle leading up to South Africa, I wanted my redemption, » she said.

When the day came, Philibert didn’t feel so strong – the trip had exhausted her – but she said she knew if she gave it her all, she would at least be a bronze contender.

She won a bronze medal in the squats category and a gold medal in her bench press event, adding that it wasn’t her best day.

« It completely blew my mind. I never thought I’d be so successful in this sport, to be honest, » she said.
« When I started, I did it just because I liked it. »

This is the very reason why his trainer, Bryce Krawczyk, thinks Philibert has done so well.

Ego doesn’t get in the way of Philibert, says coach

Based in Calgary, Krawczyk trains Philibert remotely, sends him weekly programs and reviews video workouts together. He’s been training him for about four years, he said.

« She’s awesome and she deserves hell for everything she earns, » he said.

He was at the world championship in South Africa, helping him in person.

Philibert was already a good lifter when he became his coach, Krawczyk said, and just needed some guidance. He said he allowed her to grow, rather than just telling her what to do.

She also has a knack for knowing her own body and the weight she can handle, he said, and doesn’t let her ego get in the way.

Not just being motivated to win medals, but just enjoying the process of training and improving is what Krawczyk says has made Philibert so successful.

« That attitude of being so in love with it – and it’s kind of an attitude, you know, for the love of the game – I think it gets him through things that maybe might deter others. people, » he said.

A counterweight to weightlifting

Philibert says science is still her first love and she would never give up to pursue more powerlifting.

Despite her accomplishments in powerlifting, she said her athletic contributions could never outweigh her contributions to the scientific community, and physical sport is simply a counterweight to her work as a toxicologist — and vice versa.

Because her lab is close to the Bay of Fundy, Philibert said she and her colleagues are able to research species like Atlantic cod and American lobster that no one else in the rest of Canada can. work.

Danielle Philibert lies on a bench press, lifting a barbell with heavy weights at the ends.
Philibert holds the national squat record at 208 kilograms and the national bench press record at 123 kilograms. (Submitted by Danielle Philibert)

« This gives us unprecedented access to some of the most economically and culturally important species in Canada to perform these toxicity tests, » she said.

Originally from Alberta, Philibert moved to New Brunswick just to work at the Huntsman Center a few years ago, and soon enough his whole family followed.

She’s a bit out of season now and probably won’t be competing seriously until next year’s nationals. This summer, however, she plans to compete in local strongman contests, which she described as less intense than her in-season training.

« It allows me to relax a little, to have a little more fun this summer, » she said.

cbc sp

Back to top button