If you follow along with my Fitness Journey on the ‘gram, you know that I start my day with a 5:30 am workout. 5 out of the 6 days I’m there, I’m the only girl on the weight room floor. I’m by no means the only girl in the gym. I see my sweat sisters churning on the elliptical and treadmill, crunching on the floormat, looping the track, and sometimes tucked away in a corner with a set of neon neoprene free weights. But here, with the iron dumbbells, barbells, and plates, with the cables and racks, I see myself surrounded by men.
An open letter to the girls missing from the weight room:
Society teaches us that the world, and our expected roles & responsibilities navigating it, is split into masculine and feminine. In the gym, this translates to weights and cardio, respectively. And to that social construct I say, “Oh HELL no.”
There is no sign on the weight room door that says “Men Only,” and yet something – an invisible but deep rooted barrier reinforced with the thousands of gender role pings we’re bombarded with on the daily – is keeping you out.
Listen, if I don’t see you on the squat rack because you don’t want to lift weights, you can stop reading. I’m not here to tell you what to do, and honestly I’m just happy that you’re active. But if you aren’t in here lifting because you’re scared, or intimidated, or because the world makes you feel like you can’t – this is for you.
If it’s a fear of getting “bulky.” If I could track down the person who started this rumor, I would crush them with my tight AF biceps. What even is “bulky?” When we say curves are beautiful, did we forget about the resting flex kind? I digress. The truth is, the more muscle you gain, the leaner you become. It’s literally, actually science. Read about it here. And here. And pretty much anywhere on Google. PS. excessive cardio is more than likely causing you to burn muscle and retain fat – but that’s none of my business.
Left: excessive cardio, max 5 lb dumbbells, air squats, poor nutrition.
Right: strategic cardio, average 15-20 lb dumbbells, squats more than body weight, clean + consistent nutrition.
If it’s a fear of not doing it right. Letsbehonest, most people in your local YMCA aren’t professional weight lifters. Everyone is learning (yes, even the professionals) and so will you. That said, proper form and safety are super important when it comes to lifting heavy weights. Observe other people. Watch YouTube. (Seriously, when I’m in the gym doing a new move, I’ll pull up YouTube right there at the cable machine and watch a quick video for proper form.) Download a weight training plan. Invest in a personal trainer. Read articles. And most importantly, listen to your body.
If it’s a fear of being judged. TBH, no one should have time to judge you while they’re back squatting 150 lbs. More importantly, you shouldn’t have time to notice when you’re back squatting 150 lbs. Focus on your badass self, ain’t no body got time for otherwise. Confidence and self assurance are so very important – in and out of the gym. What better place to practice than with a bunch of pre-occupied people who don’t know your name or anything about you 😉
If it’s a fear of challenging yourself. Forget that and repeat after me: there’s no change without a challenge. Progress – and hell, anything good in life – happens outside of your comfort zone. You are so much stronger than you know. At first, you’ll surprise yourself. Then, you’ll impress yourself. And finally, you’ll push yourself.
If it’s a fear of the guys.