We live in an image obsessed world, and in most cases the ‘perfect body’ is what’s portrayed to us on the cover of a magazine. Whether it be the infinite ‘slimness’ on the Vogue cover, the ‘happy family’ featured in New Idea, or the current winner of the women’s INBA bikini model in Women’s Health magazine. We all perceive ‘perfect’ according to our own reality, lifestyle and choices.
I’m not writing today about the ‘perfect body”, the one that many celebrity fitness gurus have made their fortunes selling to the masses, I’m writing about a strong and healthy, female body.
Here’s an idea. How about, as women, we work on our physical strength so we can increase our metabolism, (yes, that means burn fat) live a longer and healthier life by deterring heart disease and bone disease such as osteoporosis, and live independently for longer, without the assistance of carers in our senior years. All this, above and before the cool side effect of carrying the children/shopping with ease, (whichever your lifestyle) and looking smoking hot in a bikini.
Yes, I own a gym, and many of our clients come to us to assist with, ‘the now body’ but I like to think about how we’re helping them and their families in their future years. This is why we as a gym and me personally as a woman, am so passionate about women lifting weights.
There is no arguing with the science behind the body’s reaction to weight training, increased bone density, more efficient metabolism, increased strength and reduced risk of day to day injury. However. The general consensus still seems to be, “I want to get skinny, I should jump on a treadmill.” Ladies, PLEASE LIFT SOME WEIGHTS AS WELL! *Insert bonus side effect of feeling empowered through strength and firm muscles
So, why don’t women want to strength train?
ONE: CARDIO RULES THE WOMEN’S FITNESS INDUSTRY WORLD
Cardio is to the female fitness industry, what the airbrushed model is to the fashion industry. It’s an iconic, extremely well-marketed, (*insert Lorna catalogue here) symbol of all that is good health, and apparently leads to the ‘ideal’ female body. I am in no way discarding cardiovascular training as an integral part of your training program, but it is exactly that; part of an overall program. A program that is also made up of healthy eating, mobility work, stretching and of course strength training. It is the latter that will ultimately lead to the round booty, to the sculpted shoulders and the firm, strong arms.
TWO: I DON’T WANT TO GET BULKY!
I still have a giggle to myself when I remember my first ever PT session with a trainer. I pointed to a picture of a female bodybuilder on the wall and said, “I don’t want to look like that.” Today, I can reflect on his polite smile, and simple answer of, “No you won’t”, as I am now educated and realise that to look like ‘that’, would require years of disciplined isolation training for several hours a day, along with the strictest of diets. Ladies, I can assure you, a daily workout in the gym using weights, will not result in you becoming a muscle-bound beast. It will result in progressive muscle development, strengthening of bones and an overall firming-up of the body.
THREE: I MIGHT HURT MYSELF
My background is in teaching, 15 years of it in fact and one thing I can assure you is this: With complete lack of; or the wrong guidance, instruction and introduction to something new, anything can be dangerous. Sadly, with an inundation of gyms, all catering for the masses, the initial induction to the equipment and training is barely sufficient. Whilst many people share the well-popularised, ‘Gym-Fails’ clips for hilarity and entertainment, I look at them with a sense of bewilderment at how bad the industry is failing many of it’s clients. At our gym, it’s simple – safety first with solid foundations.
Most of my clients are mothers, mothers that have to tend to children or pick up babies, none of which can be done with injury or a sore back. Girls, my message here is simple – choose your gym wisely, get a good trainer who cares about you personally and prides themselves on the correct technique of lifting weights safely and appropriately for your lifestyle and goals. Done correctly, strength training will actually reduce the risk of injury as your strong muscles work to do as they were designed, that is support the skeleton and act as levers and pulleys to get daily tasks done.
In a nutshell Ladies, strength training is HUGELY beneficial to your everyday life and future self. You will not become ‘manly’, (a sadly misused phrase that I personally hate, but use here are a relatable reference point), you WILL feel strong, you WILL notice a significant ‘firming-up’ of your body, and you will totally be a ‘chick who lifts.’
Michelle is an educator, passionate about improving the health and well-being of children, families and classrooms!
You can follow her journey at…