Barbells and Ballet Shoes: Fundraiser combines passions of two young, powerful girls


By Hannah Richardson

“Teamwork makes the dream work.”

This is what Aubree and Gracie Anable said to each other as they practiced their powerlifting during a recent work out. It’s this motto that has summed up their hard work and achievements perfectly.

Aubree and Gracie, 9 and 8, have a passion for both dance and powerlifting. They said they have been dancing since they were toddlers, but have been students at Renee’s Dance Studio since last year. They started their powerlifting journey training under Derek Toro of Toro Total Sports Performance, and have already starting collecting trophies and medals from competitions. Toro, also Aubree and Gracie’s step-father, said the girls competed and placed in two meets in the last year, one in Slidell and the second at Calvary Baptist Church in Shreveport.

Competing in meets together has caused the two to try and “out-do” each other, but this has also caused them to reach their goals with each other. “Aubree was a little upset in the first meet, as the girls were in two different weight classes,” said Toro. “It worked out pretty good because Gracie, before the meet, owned all five of the state records in that weight class. They finished at the same amount but because Aubree was the lesser of the body weight, she stole two of her state records. It creates a lot of camaraderie between them.” At the meet in Shreveport in July, Aubree reached personal bests of: squat, 66.1 pounds; bench press, 33.1 pounds; and deadlift, 77.2 pounds, creating a total of 176.4 pounds. Gracie has personal bests of: squat, 77.1 pounds; bench press, 33.1 pounds; and deadlift, 110.2 pounds, creating a total of 220.5 pounds. They are both in the 77 pounds weight class in the Youth-1 Divison.

They have qualified to meet in Daytona Beach, Fla., for actual competition in May of next year. They will be at the USA Powerlifting Nationals next August, competing against some of the best in the country. “Their older sister, Abby, competed at the one this past year and got third. It’s a real eye-opening experience because sometimes they go to these meets and they don’t really get to be challenged,” said Toro. “I think at the end of the day, with taking their dance breaks, it keeps them interested. They’ll always know this is something they can be successful at.” The girls most definitely feel empowered as they balance both dance and powerlifting. Toro said with dance, the girls were already quite strong before lifting.

In an effort to raise money for their dance uniforms and competition fees, they decided to put on a fundraiser combining their passions- the Barbell and Ballet Shoes Lift-A-Thon. The girls ask members of the community to pledge a certain amount, from a penny to one dollar, per pound that they can lift prior to Saturday, Nov. 16 at 10 a.m. At that time, they will do three powerlifting lifts, squat, bench and deadlift, to reach their final total at All Hours Fitness and will also be livestreamed on the Toro Total Sports Performance Facebook page. After the total is calculated, multiply pledges by the total. Send pledges to or to donate any amount to the girls’ fundraiser. You may also visit