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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He makes you work out every day, doesn’t he?

I was in my Saturday morning workout class, a class of about 10 people who are trying to get fit. A woman on the mat next to me, sweat beading down her forehead while struggling to maintain a plank position, asked me, “So does [insert my husband’s name here] make you work out a lot?”

No, this isn’t the first time I’ve been asked this question. Other variations include: “Do you and [insert my husband’s name here] eat healthy all the time?”, “[Insert husband’s name here] must force you to go to the gym at least 5 times a week, doesn’t he?”, and “Does [insert my husband’s name here] yell at you if you eat a Big Mac?”

Just as I started feeling that shaky “there’s no way I can hold this position any longer” feeling, I saw a pair of feet walk up to my mat. Our group fitness trainer half jokingly, but all annoyingly told us to stop talking and keep our abs and glutes tight.

I gave him a dirty look. The kind I do whenever he tells me to stop being a wuss and do another push-up, lat pulldown, or split squat. The kind I do whenever he tells me to quit nagging about the dirty dishes he left in the sink or the trash I asked him to take out three days ago.

Yes, my husband is my trainer. I’m married to a personal trainer and fitness entrepreneur.

So this is my blog. For those of you who either love or hate seeing your trainer for that hour a week or however often you see him or her, I’m here to tell you I feel you. I have to live with mine.