Nearly 50 women will put their strength to the test in the 12th annual Charm City Strongwoman Contest on June 11.
Not affiliated with Strongman, the Strongwoman competition was started in 2012 by Fivex3 Training gym owner Emily Socolinsky after her sister Charlotte was diagnosed with colon cancer.
Initially, money raised from the event went to the Susan Cohan Colon Cancer Foundation, but the organization was disbanded. Before Charlotte passed away in 2015, she was involved with the Ulman Foundation, and Socolinsky decided to raise money for them after her sister’s passing.
“As long as this gym has been open, I’ve been running this contest,” Socolinsky said. “And it’s all to benefit the organizations that were a part of my sister when she was alive. It keeps her alive in so many ways.”
The competition is not affiliated with the Strongman competition because participants of that event must pay an extra fee, whereas Socolinsky wants all proceeds to benefit the Ulman Foundation.
The Ulman Foundation created an Ulman House in East Baltimore, where young adult cancer patients can stay for reduced costs while receiving treatment in the Baltimore area. Socolinsky raised more than $100,000 over five years for the Ulman House, and as a result, a suite there is dedicated in Charlotte’s name.
Fundraising for this year’s event began in early May and has already brought in over $11,000, according to Socolinsky. While the previous five years had set a $20,000 fundraising goal to align with the five-year commitment, Socolinsky did not select a goal this year.
For the first time since 2017, the competition will feature a truck pull as one of its five events.
“That’s always a really fun event because it looks really impressive,” said Kelly Adams, a participant, and a member of Socolinsky’s gym since 2014. “It always gets the crowd really excited.”
Other events this year in the all-women competition include a carry medley featuring a keg, sandbag, kettlebell and concrete stone; an axle deadlift; a log press; and a stone over bar.
“[Socolinsky’s] really good about doing specific movements,” said Tracie Beauchamp, a Strongwoman participant since 2017. “With her, she really puts a lot of care into her events and really formulates them well.”
The event has grown since its start in 2012. After having 21 participants in its inaugural year, the event grew to 40 by year two. It took a dip in participation numbers because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but Socolinsky says that the projected near-50 people slated to compete this year are back up to what it was like before COVID-19.
“We have about 50 women competing this year. That’s a great number. These are pre-COVID numbers,” Socolinsky said. “COVID put a big snag in our contest over the past couple years, but we’re back to pre-COVID numbers.”
While registration for the event closes on June 1, Socolinsky says that spectators can watch the event for free outside her gym in Brewers Hill.