CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. — The first time Joy Rindfleisch experienced heartbreak, it wasn't from a guy.
"It was gymnastics for me. I didn't really know how to cope with it," she said.
At 15, Rindfleisch broke her ankle not once, not twice, but three times. Her doctor told her it was time to quit the sport she had been dedicated to since she took her first steps.
"That was my whole entire life," Rindfleisch said. "Instead of coping in a healthy way, I used food to cope and restricted."
Rindfleisch developed an eating disorder and anxiety.
Her mom watched her struggle for almost two years.
"Yeah, it was really hard," said Cherie Rindfleisch, Joy's mother. "It was a really long couple of years and to see how far she's come, it's nothing more than a mom's dream come true."
Now 18, Joy Rindfleisch has found her saving grace, powerlifting, and it's all thanks to a suggestion at the gym.
"An old guy at the gym came up to me, and he was like, 'You should really look into powerlifting,' " Joy Rindfleisch said.
Within her first year competing, the 18-year-old Joy made it to the Worlds Competition in Turkey. Not only did she place second in the entire world, but Rindfleisch also set a world record for bench pressing 221 pounds.
"It's crazy to me to even think about it because my whole life, I thought it's going to be gymnastics, gymnastics, gymnastics. And then I got this new opportunity to thrive at powerlifting, and it feels surreal," she said.
After sharing her journey, Rindfleisch has grown a pretty big social media following, with more than 1 million followers on TikTok, and more than 500,000 followers on Instagram.
"I have girls DMing me saying, 'You're the reason I entered my first powerlifting meet,' or asking me for bench advice, or telling me how awesome it is that they think I'm lifting heavy and not being scared to take up space in the gym as a woman," Joy Rindfleisch said.
No one should have to experience heartbreak.
"Power lifting saved me in a lot of ways," Rindfleisch said.
But with the right amount of strength, you can always get to the other side.