Janae “Kroc” Kroczaleski is a unique figure in powerlifting. Known to many as Matt Kroczaleski, the name she was born with and continues to use from time to time, “Kroc” still holds the UPA all-time world record total in the 220-pound class with 2,551 pounds.
In 2015, she publicly came out as transgender and uses the terms transgender, genderfluid, non binary, and genderless to describe herself. She hasn’t completely transitioned to female and sometimes presents as male, noting that some days she’ll feel more masculine than others.
To help promote the upcoming documentary Transformer, which followed Kroczaleski from 2015 to 2017, she took to Reddit’s powerlifting subreddit for an AMA (“Ask Me Anything”). Here are some of the most notable responses.
Q: Do you plan to compete in powerlifting again? I saw an interview where you said you weren’t sure but it was from two years ago.
No, I do not plan to ever compete as a woman in powerlifting. I feel it would do more harm to the sport and trans athletes than good. I may lift as a guest lifter but never as a competitor.
Q: What do you think the rules should be regarding who gets to decide whether an athlete competes as male or female? For instance, the International Olympic Committee allows female-to-male athletes to compete without restriction, while male-to-female athletes must undergo hormone therapy. Do you think that’s fair?
First, just let me say that I think in most ways the NCAA and IOC are getting it right when it comes to trans athletes in that a female to male athlete should have no advantage and should be eligible to compete as a male as soon as they desire.
However, male to female athletes should have to wait until one year on female HRT to prevent them from having the benefit of their previous male hormones. And yes as hard as it is to believe for some people one year is a sufficient amount of time for HRT to completely eliminate any advantage that person had and there is significant evidence to back this up.
This is also why even though trans women have been able to compete in the Olympics since Athens in 2004 we have not had one single trans woman medal at the Olympics although Laurel Hubbard may change that at the next Olympics.
Q: Transitioning is a pretty big change, how did you know it was the right choice for you? Could you have insisted on being fluid without all meds and surgery?
I still haven’t fully transitioned but have obviously taken several steps in that direction and don’t regret any of them. (…)
For myself the facial surgery and orchiectomy were absolutely necessary. Both aspects made me very uncomfortable and I feel one hundred times better now. I’m still contemplating full bottom surgery and have mixed feelings about breast augmentation at this point but I know I am not done either. For reasons that are too lengthy to get into here my journey is a very complex one that is not typical even for a trans person and everyone should realize their journey is their own and you only need to do what you feel is best regardless of what others might say.
Q: At the height of your powerlifting strength what was your weekly split like? what type of progression or periodization did you use?
I still follow the same basic plan that I did at the peak of my career and have used this template to help a lot of other lifters as well. I program my lifts in four week waves with three weeks of increasing intensity followed by a fourth deloading week (intensity deload volume actually increases.) Every successive four week wave is heavier than the last.
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A little #throwbackthursday today. The pics on the left are from 2010 and 2012 and the ones on the right were taken within the last couple of weeks. The top-left pic was from a photoshoot for MuscleTech at the legendary Metroflex Gym in Arlington Texas two weeks before the NPC Michigan state championships where I would win the heavyweight division and qualify for the NPC Nationals. I had a great training session that day with Johnnie Jackson and Branch Warren. The bottom left pic was taken in the summer of 2012 and would later end up as the cover for #powermagazine. I often get asked if coming out was worth it. If it was worth giving up my powerlifting and bodybuilding careers, losing my contract with muscletech, having friends and family as well as strangers treat me so differently, and just having to face all the scrutiny I've faced since then. I won't lie it hasn't been easy and there are days where it frustrates me to be sure. Those times when I run into someone who in the past would have been asking for a picture or an autograph but now they look at me like I'm less than human. There are days when it gets to you. But no matter how rough it may be at times deep down I know I'm doing the right thing. I don't think honesty can ever be the wrong choice, especially when it involves being true to oneself. Even though I was fortunate to achieve a lot of my goals and experience a lot of really cool things I was constantly burdened by the fact that I was always hiding so much of who I am and making the decision to stop doing that is something I know I'll never regret. Hopefully the day will come soon when people won't have to choose between being true to themselves and potentially losing valuable opportunities. Even with some of the hurdles our society is currently facing I still think we're moving in the right direction and I think there's a lot of hope for our future generations. But most importantly we just have to remember that it's up to us to make sure we do our part to ensure progress continues and we make this a world where no one is ever afraid to be themselves. #transgender #genderfluid #nonbinary #gendernonconforming #genderqueer
Q: For me, any lack of progress in the gym is a huge discouragement. How do you stay motivated to train while watching your numbers decrease? Aside from strength losses, have you noticed any other significant effect on training?
You have to realize that powerlifting is a marathon and not a sprint. We all want our goals today but in reality strength takes years and years to build and working hard day in and day out even when things aren’t going well is what gets you there. So when you’re struggling don’t worry about where you are right now as much as where you’re going to be in five, ten, or fifteen years.
And yes, it’s been very frustrating to watch my numbers decline in the last few years after starting estrogen but I have to accept that and just focus on doing the best I can now under these circumstances. So now I keep PE (post estrogen) PRs lol.
Q: Hi Janae, how did you manage to balance a career in pharmacy (a demanding medical field) with family life and being one of the strongest human beings on the planet?
To be honest I sacrificed a lot of sleep over the years in order to do everything I wanted. In spite of the fact of how important everyone says sleep is I obviously still made excellent progress in training and achieved all of my biggest goals. As far as keeping your training intact goes you simply have to remove the option of missing training. You can’t ever say “It’s too late to train today.” or “I’m just too tired.” or “There’s just no time in my schedule today.” You have to remove that option altogether. Think of it this way. If someone offered you a million dollars if you were still able to get your training in on your busiest day you’d find a way to make it happen.
Q: One of the most frustrating things about powerlifting is the aches and pains that come along with it. What were are/were your favourite methods of recovery/rehab to ensure your body stayed in one piece?
Massages, steam saunas, and hot tubs all have therapeutic benefits but I was never good about doing them consistently. Still, when I had a jacuzzi style tub at my old home I took frequent advantage of it and need to get one installed at my current home.
Q: Recently I saw Dave Tate had said you did not use knee wraps when in competition, atleast I think that is what I heard, is there any reason for this?
Yep, at the peak of my career all of my biggest squats were done without knee wraps. It started at an early WPO meet when I was rushed and didn’t have time to wrap. I made my lift anyway and realized how much it lessened the stress in a big meet without having to worry about timing with the wraps. Then it became a thing that people noticed as I was the only person squatting over a grand without wraps so I kept doing it. In hindsight I probably should have worn wraps as they would have added significant pounds to my total but at that time it was just part of being “Kroc.”
Kroczaleski told BarBend of the Q&A,
I thought it went well and everyone was very respectful. To be honest I was expecting more controversial type questions but for the most part it was what I expected.
For more answers, including a tale about watching Pulp Fiction with the First Family and where the heck she buys her clothes, head over to the AMA on Reddit.
Featured image via @janaemariekroc on Instagram.