Women hear some pretty ridiculous things in the gym.
We also hear many when we’re outside of the gym.
‘Women aren’t meant to be strong’
‘Don’t lift weights, they will make you bulky’
‘Don’t get too big, you’ll look manly’
I’m sorry, should I be back in the 1950’s where appropriate women’s exercise machines were designed to make us ‘jiggle’ off our fat?
To all those people (and unfortunately, most of these comments come from fellow women), I would like to respond with a big fat, totally obscene;
‘but it makes me happy’.
Having comments like this thrown in my face when I started lifting weights was a bit upsetting. I felt like I wasn’t allowed to, or it wasn’t approved of, for me to feel happy and great about myself for using the macho weight plates. I’m won’t lie, I felt a bit embarrassed to ever tell people that I lifted weights. I would often answer questions like ‘how was the gym’ or ‘what did you train today’, and even comments like ‘you’re looking great what’s the secret?’ with: ‘oh, you know. Just the regular routine’.
Looking back now I wish I’d responded with something a little snarkier. That way I’d never have to hear another comment about why lifting weights would make me sprout a penis and cause my vocal chords to deepen.
‘Women aren’t meant to be strong’
This couldn’t be further from the truth.
No, women may not have the capacity to lift as much as men (particularly if they train as hard as we do), but to say that we aren’t made to be strong is just downright incorrect.
Strengthening muscles is essential for us! Leading a healthy, strong lifestyle make many aspects of our lives easier. One of which is the nine months of carrying a child.
Another important reason for women to participate in strength training is as we go through menopause, we have a very high chance of developing osteoporosis. The lack of calcium produced in our bodies at this time often sees our bones thin. By lifting weights, and strengthening our bodies the effects of menopause are significantly reduced.
‘You shouldn’t be doing that by yourself’
If we look into the history of the Western world, we went through something called emancipation. Some people seem to have forgotten this.
Just like hiring a van, or moving some furniture, getting groceries – I can get my own damn dumbbells.
The next time someone says this to you, or warns you about doing it on your own, ask them why you need help. And quite often their answer will be the exact same as their statement (‘you shouldn’t be doing it by yourself’). They don’t actually have a reason why.
I currently train at a gym where comments like these are unheard of. It’s fantastic, the women want to lift weights. We want to get stronger. We will get as big as we damn well please! I’m not saying that Southern Highlands Strength & Conditioning is a feminist empire, but they treat women and men as equals when it comes to strength and body goals. It’s extremely empowering.
My biggest lesson learnt over my years of training is that if you try make other people happy about your body, you’ll fail. Nobody will agree on what is ‘right’. So, it’s time to woman-up and make your own decision about what is right for you and run with it.
Who knows when we will finally abolish the macho image of women and weight training. To be honest, probably never.
To the Ladies of the strength world: love your weights, stick to your goals, be proud and laugh at the comments.
For the love of the bulk,