Imagine being among the best in the world in your game-ready sport at the Arnold Sports Festival. Gabriele Burgholzer knows this feeling well.Burgholzer is one of 10 contestants at the 2022 Arnold Pro Strongwoman competition strongest woman on earth Race in Columbus, Ohio.
Burgholzer finished eighth, but the connection to Burgholzer goes beyond just being a race participant. The Austrian-born has a connection to its host, fellow Austrian Arnold Schwarzenegger – she’s even known as the “Austrian Oak”.
“I would almost say I kind of followed in his footsteps, because he also left Austria to go overseas and become famous,” Bergholzer said.
Burgholzer spent his entire childhood in Austria. In her home country, these men had to join the military before they could continue the rest of their lives.
“In Austria, all men have to serve in the military for several months to gain experience,” she said. “So, my two brothers, my father, grandfather, great-grandfather, etc., served in Austria.”
GABRIELE BURGHOLZER RECOGNIZED THROUGH SERVICE
After graduating high school, Burgholzer came to the United States in 2007 as an exchange student. Because she likes being in America so much, she chooses to stay here permanently. However, she wanted to do more than just live here. She wanted to express her gratitude for the country she now calls home. That’s why she enlisted in the U.S. Army.
“I got a lot of opportunities here that I didn’t think I would get in Austria. I just want to give back to the community. In a sense, I want to thank America for keeping me here and for all the opportunities America has given me.”
Burgholzer has served in the U.S. Army for nine years and her current rank is Sergeant Sergeant. Her travels took her from Fort Jackson, South Carolina, to Texas, North Carolina and even Hawaii for basic training. She is currently stationed in Fort Knox, Kentucky.
Her honors include the Army Distinguished Volunteer Service Medal, three Army Commendation Medals, and more. In February 2019, she participated in a workout with the U.S. Army Warriors Fitness Team. Since August of that year, she has become the only strong woman in the team. Burgholzer didn’t get into fitness as a child, but she did Become passionate about strength and power.
“I did try bodybuilding, but I found it wasn’t my strong suit. I prefer lifting weights to looking good on stage.”
Strength and service are the key
The strong woman movement ended up being the right choice for Burgholzer. She competed in her first competition, a local competition, in 2019. By 2020, She was crowned America’s Strongest Woman.
“It used to be frowning to be a strong woman And have big muscles. So, (cheers) keep me going, keep me going in that direction, and I haven’t stopped since. “
Gabriele Burgholzer finished second in the 2021 America’s Strongest Women the following year. Her first international competition will be at Arnold in March 2022. Staff member Sargeant Burgholzer explains what it’s like to represent her new home country at an international competition under the bright lights of Columbus.
“It feels amazing. It’s an incredible honor,” she shared. “If you told me that I would compete against the best athletes in the world in my sport and represent Austria and the United States on that stage, I would think you were crazy. This is a memory I will cherish forever.”
Burgholzer may not have won that match, but there will definitely be more international matches and she’ll be ready. In addition to her dedication to training, her service and work in the military served as an advantage for mental preparation.
“I think as soldiers or any military, we’re taught from day one to be disciplined. I think with any sport, that’s one of the foundations that you have to have. You have to be in the whole training, eating, sleeping, everything. obey the discipline stay in top shape,” she explained. “I’m really grateful to the military for helping me learn this discipline. “
Discipline above all else
Gabriele Burgholzer made it clear that she was referring to discipline, not motivation, as all athletes who compete know that motivation may not be there every day.
“Just like in the military, there are things you have to force yourself to do, and there are days you have to do it in the gym. There are always good days and bad days.”
Bergholzer had to undergo multiple surgeries after the Arnold game, which kept her from going back to strength for a while, but she’ll be back and she’s got a purpose. One of the goals is actually in another sport — weightlifting.
“I want to set a world record on the bench press. I recently hit 325 pounds and I don’t have any skills right now. So, I’m working on it and hopefully I can break my weight class record, which I think is 380.”
Gabriele Burgholzer attributes her success in strength and life to the military, arguing that everyone should understand what it’s like to serve this country.
“I actually think everyone should be in the military for a few years. It really helped me learn more about myself, improve my discipline, and it gave me the opportunity to look at what the military is doing for this country in a bigger light,” she said. Explaining, “It also gives me a sense of freedom we can all have. So anyone who might be considering joining, please join. Obviously, do your research and find out which branch is best for you.”
In addition to being one of the best people in her sport, she wants to be one of the best people in her sport. Burgholzer wants to encourage more women to get involved in general strength sports so they can be their strongest selves.
“To all women, not just in service, but all women, come join me in the power movement. Don’t let society tell you what you should look like, or what you should lift or not lift. Quick Come join me.”
Follow Gabriel on Instagram: @gabi_theaustrianoaktress