GEORGETOWN, Ky. — Any teen who’s faced bullying knows the deep impact of hurtful words or actions.

It's something a Scott County Middle Schooler saw every day, until about a year ago she found a new activity: weightlifting.

“We’re maxing out this week. I’m really excited about it,” said Katie Reynolds, 12.

What You Need To Know

  • 12-year-old Katie Reynolds started body building more than a year ago

  • It's helped her overcome bullying and gain muscle

  • Her mom inspired her to 'hit' the gym after other hobbies didn't pan out

  • Katie even broke her own bench-press record this month

Katie is no longer new to weightlifting, having competed in her first tournament earlier this August.

“It's helped a lot with my confidence and stuff because I used to be really upset with the way that I looked and stuff body-wise. Now I'm kind of right where I want to be and it's helped me a lot,” Katie said.

In between sets, the student shows off her dance moves.

Katie high-fives her trainer, Jessica, after finishing a workout. (Spectrum News 1/Khyati Patel)

“Well I used to get bullied a lot for my size and stuff cause I was overweight for most kids my age,” Katie said.

The 7th grader describes the challenges she faced at school more than a year ago.

“I wasn’t talking to anyone because every time I did try to talk to someone, they would shut me down or [say] 'I don’t talk to fat people' or 'you’re fat' or something like that," Katie said. "I’d get physically bullied on the occasion and I didn’t have a way — I didn’t know I was actually strong. So I didn’t really do anything and kind of just let it happen and mom found me crying one night crying and said gym."

The transformation with building muscles boosted her confidence, relieving the constant worry from her mom, Geneva.

“Really as a mom, I wish that people would do better at teaching their kids to treat their fellow human beings with more kindness. And just I don't know where that kind of meanness comes from, because there's no reason for anyone to say that to her. It's hard,” Geneva said.

Katie even set a record for herself bench-pressing 133 pounds, beating her previous record of 115 pounds. But more importantly, she found an inclusive community. 

“They're really uplifting and it helps me with a lot of my confidence issues,” Katie said.

She’s shedding the hurtful words all the while gaining a newfound perspective. Katie is now looking forward to her second weightlifting tournament that’s taking place Feb. 2022 in Frankfort.