Women who lift heavy UNITE!

I work out at a pretty huge gym.  It’s actually more like a health club.  They have raquetball, tennis courts, a spa/salon, a restaurant, a pool, fancy locker rooms, etc.  They also have a small area that is restricted to women’s use only.

Don’t get me wrong.  I actually like working out.  But that wasn’t always the case.  I used to get nauseous at the thought of going to the gym.  Not only because it just seemed like too much effort to put some workout clothes on, drive to the gym, and expend way more energy on a treadmill or doing squats than sitting on the couch watching reruns of Friends, but also because it was actually a daunting experience.

I think now I can say I somewhat know what I’m doing when I’m at the gym.  But when I first started working out, I was really self-conscious about it.  Firstly, I didn’t know what I was doing, and I was sure it was obvious to everyone around me.  Secondly, all those guys on the weight machines, grunting and flexing in the mirror, while scrawny, petite me had to completely remove the pin on the row machine because even the lightest weight was too heavy. 

And while I was in college, I was self-conscious around men in general, let alone while suggestively raising my hips off the ground to do lying butt bridges.  And honestly, I still am slightly self-conscious about these things.

Fitness institutions such as Curves were established for this very reason.  They understand that testosterone-laden gyms may not be the best environment for women who are not figure competitors to begin their journeys towards their fitness goals. 

And this is the reason behind the area at my gym that is women only.  Sometimes I workout in the big, crowded weight room, filled with Arnold-wannabe’s.  But sometimes I want to work out in an environment where I feel comfortable and where I don’t have to put myself on a waitlist for the 30-pounders.  Only problem is, the dumbells in the women’s area only go up to 20 pounds.

Back in my college days, that may have been good enough.  But now that I’ve gotten stronger, I need to lift heavier.  It’s like the big-wigs at the fancy gym think that women who are able to lift more than 20 pounds are advanced enough that they shouldn’t be self-conscious about working out among the men.

(This could potentially get into the whole “I’m afraid I’ll look like a man if I lift more than 8 pounds” conversation, but I’ll save that for another day.)

I don’t know about you, but I feel it’s discriminatory and somewhat hypocritical that this gym would force me out of the women’s area because I start getting stronger.  Isn’t that something the gym big-wigs should support?  I can see how this would deter some women from continuing to pursue their fitness goals: They start seeing results, get stronger, start needing to lift heavier weights, but then stop progressing because they continue to lift 20 pounds because they don’t want to leave the women’s area.

Anyway, so I approached the nice, young man behind the personal trainer’s desk and asked him if they’ve ever considered putting heavier weights in the women’s area.  The answer was “no.”  But he did talk to his supervisor and emailed me asking what weights I would like introduced.  It’s something they’ll “definitely consider.”

Good sign.  I’ll let you know what happens.

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Call me a skinny minnie? Oh no you di’int!

I remember when I was in high school, when I would lie down I thought it was really cool that my stomach would sink down and my ribs and hip bones would protrude from my skin.

Now that I think about that, it actually sounds kind of disgusting.  Who wants to be a “skinny minnie,” as many have dubbed me?

I get that an awful lot – “why do you work out?  You’re already a ‘skinny minnie!'”

First of all, I don’t want to be a skinny minnie.  And second of all, even if people didn’t think I look like a skinny minnie, that isn’t why I’d be working out!

Yes, I’ll admit that one of my reasons for working out and eating consciously is to improve my body composition.  (i.e. So I can rock a bikini or skin tight dress)  What woman doesn’t want to look good in what she wears?

But improved body composition does NOT mean being skinny!  When you say skinny, images of Mary Kate & Ashley, Nicole Ritchie, and Twiggy run through my head.  Ew.  I don’t want to look like a drug addict.  That is NOT the goal.

Hm…Jessica Biel maybe, and even Britney (during her sultry “I’m a Slave for You” days) maybe.  I wouldn’t mind looking like them.  Solid, fit, and like they could probably kick your ass.

Actually, I take that back.  I don’t want to look like them.  I want to look like me.  But a solid, fit, I-could-kick-your-ass version of me.  It’s ridiculous to want to look like this actress or that super-model.  We all have different genetics, different body compositions.  It is probably genetically impossible for my butt to look as good as Jessica Biel’s.

But I can admire their level of physical fitness and aspire to achieve my own pinnacle of physical fitness and health.

Anyway, body composition and overall health – that is what it’s about.  In the words of James Ray, “Let health be the goal, and let fitness be the by-product.”  Just try to get and stay healthy and happy, and it’ll manifest itself in your physical appearance.

When you start eating healthier and become more physically active, your body can’t help but conform.  Eating right, working out, and other healthy habits – getting enough sleep, minimizing stress etc. – shouldn’t make you look like an Oleson twin.

Skinny minnie?  Not me, thank you very much.