Elle Hatamiya is one badass chick. Twelve-year-old athlete Elle is a triple whammy when it comes to sports, as she (somehow) manages to balance practicing Cuong Nhu martial arts, gymnastics, and Olympic-style weightlifting without utterly collapsing on the floor as I likely would if I did all three. The San Francisco native may only weigh 80 pounds, but she can deadlift nearly two times her bodyweight, and we’re seriously in awe of her skills. Sometimes the best (and strongest) things come in small packages, am I right?
At age 7, Elle first started practicing martial arts, and two years later, she got into competitive gymnastics. Since then, she’s earned the state championship for Level 3 Floor and Level 4 Beam and Floor and advanced to Level 8 of Junior Olympics gymnasts. In 2014, Elle’s mother, Tracy, inspired her to start training in CrossFit to help with her gymnastics movements, and a few competitions later, Elle’s training evolved into Olympic weightlifting territory. She was hooked.
“It’s an amazing feeling when I get to train and work out. It’s really hard to describe it,” Elle told OurStyle of her love for weightlifting. Between martial arts practices and training for 24 hours each week with her gymnastics team, the 12-year-old has private weightlifting sessions for an hour twice per week. These involve a dynamic warmup, followed by a barbell warmup and then practicing her “snatch” (a move that involves hoisting the weight above the head in one fell swoop) or “clean and jerk” (which involves lifting the weight to shoulder level before fully raising it above the head), among other movements.
During these training sessions, Elle is doing some seriously impressive lifting. She has snatched 70 pounds and clean and jerked 83 pounds, although she’s done up to 96 pounds for the clean and jerk in the past. As for deadlifting, the most she’s managed to lift is a whopping 153 pounds. Yes, you read that correctly — 153 pounds. That’s nearly two times her personal bodyweight. Meanwhile, me and my Spongebob-esque noodle arms can barely lift 20-pound dumbbells, but I digress . . .
Lifting that amount of weight may seem like a daunting and dangerous task for someone so young, but Elle’s mother reassured us that she’s in good hands with her trainer. “The heaviness doesn’t worry me at all,” she told us. “With the snatch and the clean and jerk, there is so much technique necessary to make a successful lift, if you don’t use proper form, you won’t be able to lift it. Elle gets excellent private training from her coach, Arnold Chua, and she has extremely good body awareness and ability to make whatever corrections he gives her,” she said. Tracy added that her daughter has never been injured from weightlifting but has sustained a few minor injuries from gymnastics.
So what on earth keeps Elle so darn motivated to lift big? She’s got some strong role models to inspire her. “I look up to Simone Biles, Gabby Douglas, Aly Raisman, and Laurie Hernandez,” Elle told us, adding that she also follows Olympic weightlifters Mattie Rogers and Sarah Robles. In addition, Elle’s desire to eventually compete in the Olympics for weightlifting pushes her through each training session. The 12-year-old already competes in a handful of weightlifting competitions each year, and she even won the 2016 USA Weightlifting National Youth Championships in her weight group for two different age groups, so it seems like she’s certainly on the right track!
Elle documents many of her workouts and training sessions on her Instagram account, elle.hot.tamale, and they’re impressive as heck. Scroll through some of her videos ahead, and you’ll definitely feel inspired dabble in some weightlifting next time you’re at the gym, if you don’t already. Someone pass that barbell!