Women & Weights
I’ve never been one to write. When given the opportunity I will usually steer clear of any and all ways of exploring and sharing my ideas—especially if given the chance for everyone to read them. I wonder if this is because of my own person insecurities, fears or lack of inspiration. We all carry weights around with us, they can be easy ones to notice like self-esteem, failures or compliance. Or possibly they are harder ones, ones you think you are hiding well like depression, disorders or relationships issues. No matter the weight I’m convinced there are ways to make them FEEL less heavy.
Growing up I actually took a weight lifting class. I'll admit now that my main reason was because there were very few other girls, and the ones that were in the class were my best friends. The other reason was obvious—lots of boys! DUH. It was a class that gave me the foundation of strength training with weights. The class was FILLED with machines. We usually rotated in a round-robin fashion for the duration of class. I felt strong and nothing motivated me more than when a cute middle school boy was impressed by how much weight I was lifting! This was a class that gave me a basic understanding of how and when to use what machine. I felt like this was something I could continue in my future.
Fast forward to high school. The weight room felt off limits. The one single time I entered the weight room it was INTIMIDATING! As a tiny fresh(meat) girl those weights and MEN were just too much to handle and try to impress. I never went back. This was where I wish I had some guidance, some assistance or even just another woman to say “Hey! You belong here!” To my own misfortune I stayed away from weights from then on. Until I met a man later during my college years who agreed with my high schooler dreams of lifting weights and also said, “You can do this & I can teach you.”
I started lifting weights in my own apartment gym. I still wasn’t convinced that I could fit in at any public gym, at least not in the weights section! I started using dumbbells. Why? Why do they have to be called DUMB-BELLS? I felt dumb using them, but it was better to work out in seclusion than in front of others that could judge me. I started working with my trainer (who may or may have not been my boyfriend too) to further develop a basic skill set that I could perform on my own. Our location and distance was an issue, so we struck a deal…“If you’re not going to work out with me, then at least do these exercises on your own!” Okay, I can do that. But only if I can do them ON MY OWN.
After using my weights in the apartment gym for some time I began feeling like I knew what I was doing again. One day, I begged my roommate to join me—I wanted to teach her what I’d learned. She reluctantly agreed. When we arrived at the tiny gym there was a problem...The only bench was being used and he wasn’t getting ready to share or leave any time soon. We were about to give up and hop on the incredibly boring elliptical machine when I said, “No. We came to lift weights and that’s what we’re going to do!” My roommate was feeling my adventurous humor and we crafted a plan. “If he’s not going to move then we will make our own bench to lift weights!” We did just that. A few moments later we had it, made out of three lofty cushion chairs, a bench press! It stuck out like a sore thumb. People passed through the gym, glancing in our direction while we spotted each other. We completed our work out and successfully lifted our weights. This was point in my training and learning that I realized—I did belong. I do know what I’m doing and I WILL get stronger.
Why do we as women let the weights in our life hold us down? Why do we insist that until we are the best we can’t possibly let others see us struggle? These are questions I’m still asking myself today. I’m forever grateful of my PE teacher who encouraged me to join the strength training class back in middle school. If it wasn’t for him I don’t know if I would have ever tried it. I know now, as most of you do that strength training is the GREATEST skill you can develop in any effort to become strong and physically fit. My hope was, and still is, to be toned, to be able to lift whatever I want and to be able to carry myself with my head held high. I want to FEEL fit and BE strong so that other pieces of myself can shine more bright. I know that with more self-confidence other parts of myself will have more of an opportunity to prosper. With that confession I challenge you to ask yourself, what would happen if I started strength training? What would I achieve if I felt stronger? How would that transcend into other parts of my life? And finally, what have I got to lose?
Here are some BASIC strength training moves that anyone who is able and willing could try, whether it be in your bedroom, your back yard or your tiny apartment gym. These moves do not require any weights, other than the weight of your own body…which let’s be honest, can be heavy enough to get a great work out in! I like to try to do as many repetitions as I can, while leaving a few more reps in my tank. The next time I do these exercises, I try to get one more repetition than I did last time.
If you feel like even these moves are too hard to master or if you want somebody like I did to help and guide you--I encourage you to seek out a coach! If you’re that type of person who needs some help I’d love to chat with you about some possibilities.
And when you feel like you look stupid, or you’re feeling out of place remember, YOU BELONG…even if you have to build your own bench to press, it’s worth the odd looks, you’re not in this for anyone else—you’re in this for YOU.
Special THANKS to:
John Tichinor (PE Teacher)
Bret Hamilton (Personal Trainer)
Jordan Fox (Crazy Roommate)
To all those WOMEN who consistently inspire me! We are in this TOGETHER.