Lewis, 57, started powerlifting in 1973, he said. He didn’t compete then, but he trained with a friend who was an Olympic lifter. Then, he joined the Navy as a professional singer. He retired from the Navy in 1998.
At that time, Lewis was 42. He weighed 114 pounds and bench-pressed 300 pounds, he said. A few years later, Lewis began lifting with a friend from Prince George’s County who “helped me get into powerlifting,” he said.
Lewis’s first meet was in the USA Powerlifting organization in 2000. He entered the 148-pound weight group and benched 305 pounds.
“I started that and then I got hooked up” in the American Powerlifting Association, he said.
Lewis continued his training at a local gym, where he met Underwood and Davis.
Throughout high school and college, Underwood, 28, played baseball. Davis, 27, was on the swim team.
After Underwood stopped playing baseball, he “just wanted to work out . . . to stay in shape,” he said, so he started lifting recreationally with Davis.
Soon, Underwood realized he needed a competitive outlet. “After baseball, I had nothing to compete at,” he said.
Underwood and Davis began frequenting a gym in Prince Frederick, where they met Lewis, who was competing in powerlifting meets. Underwood said that with some guidance from Lewis, he participated in his first meet.
“I was hooked,” Underwood said. “This is the competition I needed.”
After competing in a few meets, Underwood persuaded Davis to try powerlifting, too.
“I started doing it, and it was fun, going to compete and everything,” Davis said.
The three men continued to train at local gyms throughout the county, but quickly realized they preferred their own gym with their own equipment. Lewis said many gyms don’t have the regulation equipment that the competitions have.
Underwood said that over the past four years, the “informal” team has gradually acquired necessary pieces of equipment.
“Some stuff we’ve had or has been given to us. Some stuff we’ve built,” he said. “Everyone, like, chips in and helps out with it.”
Lewis said a home gym for powerlifting has to be done right.
“You have to know how to set up,” he said. “You’re talking about George setting up and squatting 800 pounds. You have to have it set up just right.”
Davis and Underwood train four days a week. Lewis trains with them about three days a week.
Underwood works as a daytime security guard at Calvert Memorial Hospital, Davis is a security guard at Chalk Point Power Plant in Aquasco, and Lewis is an exhibit interpreter at the Calvert Marine Museum. They all are able to balance their work with training because, as Underwood said, “Training becomes part of your routine.” The team has a set training schedule, he said, but allows flexibility when necessary to accommodate for unscheduled events that may arise.