Tony Young enjoys competing and pushing himself, so it’s not all that surprising that Young began running a few years ago when he said he “started getting kind of fluffy.”
Young, who works as a patient access specialist in St. Luke’s acute care and general surgery clinics in Boise and Meridian, began taking part in half marathons, 10Ks and 5Ks to get in better shape.
“That’s why I liked running: you sign up for runs and you push yourself,” he said. “It gives you a reason to get up off the couch.”
Eventually, Young expanded his workouts and started going to a gym. A friend suggested he get into powerlifting.
“(He said) ‘You’re built for it,’” Young said. “I wasn’t too sure about it, but finally I said, ‘OK, what’s it going to take? What does it look like?’”
That friend was Kyle Young, head coach at Kabuki Strength, a Portland company that sells strength equipment and provides one-on-one strength training and coaching.
The strength coach admitted powerlifting isn’t for everyone.
“I know some people who are really strong, but they hate to compete,” he said. “And then there are some people who like to compete, but they just don’t have the genetic makeup. Tony likes the sport and he likes to compete. He took that and ran with it.”
It turns out, Young was a quick learner. And not too much later, he wound up with a world title.
“It’s been quite the journey, for sure. I’ve learned a lot along the way,” Young said. “You think of lifting weights as picking them up and setting them down, but there’s all kinds of things as far as technique and everything. It’s insane the amount of science that goes into it.”
In Young’s first competition, he took first in his class while setting two Idaho records.
“I was thinking that maybe there’s something to this,” he said.
In October, he traveled to England to take part in a world competition.
Competing in the Masters Division (40-45 years old), Young set new Idaho records in the squat, bench and deadlift while posting a new world record in the squat with a 524.7-pound lift.
“Prior to that, about a month earlier, was the first time I hit 500 pounds,” he said. “Three weeks prior to the competition someone had upped the record to 523 pounds, and I was like, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me. I’ve barely been able to do 500. I don’t know if I can do another 25 pounds.’ But we got it done.”
His coach said Young’s path to a world record was remarkable. But it reflected the amount of work he put in – and his desire to becoming a top powerlifter.
“His dedication is second to none,” Kyle Young said. “I’ve got to know him more personally, and he’s just a good dude. He doesn’t complain about anything. He gets up early and puts the work in. I’m not going to get up at the time he gets up, but he gets up at an ungodly hour, goes to the gym and is dedicated … then he goes home and gets the family ready for the day and heads into his job.
“I’ve coached a lot, and to get to his level you have to be dedicated to your craft and you have to train hard. That’s just his personality, and he does it with a smile on his face. He just makes it happen.”
The same could be said of his work ethic on the job at St. Luke’s.
Jill Hughes is the interim manager of acute care and general surgery, and she’s witnessed Young go above and beyond for St. Luke’s patients on numerous occasions.
“We’re often caring for patients who have recently been in crises … and he’s at the front line,” Hughes said. “He’s the first person who helps them, so his ability to engage, listen and respond sincerely is special.”
Hughes said Young has been humble about his powerlifting accolades – even as his co-workers have celebrated his accomplishments by hanging a few of his medals in the staff’s break room.
“He’s a pleasure to work with, and he’s a great guy,” Hughes said. “I’m proud he’s a member of the St. Luke’s family.”
Chris Langrill is a writer and copy editor for the St. Luke’s Communications and Marketing department.