The Modern Woman
Smart, sassy, successful. She is confident in any setting. The board room. The playing field. The stage. Women are kicking butt and taking names. However,
I’ve been around my fair share of weight rooms. I was one of lucky few to have broken that glass ceiling. But how and why did I succeed when so many other women have failed?
Why Are Weight Rooms So Intimidating?
First of all, they don’t make it easy. The weight room is usually down in a basement, tucked away in the back, or on the very top floor of your mega gym.
I remember once, upon entering a new gym, asking the front desk attendant where the weight room was. She kindly directed me to the second floor which was 90% cardio equipment and a few free-weights. After looking around and not seeing anything over a 10lbs dumbbell, I corrected her (ahem, sexist) mistake. No, I mean the real weight room.
Oh, she said blushing slightly, all the way upstairs, on the fourth floor.
Finding the place is only the beginning of the battle. Once inside, the brave female is inundated with testosterone-laden stares. The ratio of men to women in your average weight room is about 99 to 1. I’m not suggesting our male counterparts are malicious or inappropriate, although sometimes they are. But they certainly notice our presence.
And females notice the lack of our own tribe. Maybe I shouldn’t be here, is the thought that creeps in. Maybe I should go back downstairs to the those nice 5lbs dumbbells and my usual 20 minutes on the stairmaster.
If she is brave enough to trudge through that initial onslaught of testosterone, she arrives at the biggest challenge yet. Actually working out. The squat rack doesn’t come with instructions. There are no neat little diagrams to show you how to power clean. And there certainly isn’t your favorite spin instructor Tracey to guide you through it.
This is where most women fail. Ok, they might do a few bicep curls before throwing in the towel and racing back downstairs. They might even eek out a full half an hour, but they will probably be so uncomfortable, so unsure of themselves that they won’t go back.
How To Get Over It?
I’m writing this article because this does not have to be the case! There are so many benefits of strength training, including but not limited to: increased muscle mass, bone density and bad-assness.
We should not be limiting ourselves. Not when women are kicking butt in so many other places. The weight room should be no different.
I had two clients yesterday: wonderful, talented females. While discussing their workout habits I noticed neither included any strength training. When asked why, they both gave me the same answer. “I don’t know what to do.”
C’mon guys (by guys I mean girls). This is 2017. If you want to find a video of cats getting brain freeze you can do that. If you want to find an instructional video on how to do a lat pull down, you can do that too.
That is my number one piece of advice to any woman (or man) who is interested in starting strength training on their own: Have A Plan.
Do some research. Pick 5 exercises each time you are going to hit the weights. That way, once you make it to the weight room, you can move confidently from one machine to the next without whittling away at your self-confidence.
Because the truth is, there is nothing exclusively masculine about the weight room. Men are not born knowing how to deadlift. They didn’t come out knowing the difference between a preacher curl and a hammer curl. They learned. Yes, we as females have many more obstacles in our path to achieving comfort and autonomy in the weight room. But that challenge should only motivate us more to start turning the tide.
Stay tuned for a future post on how to create your own strength training program.