Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Is There Room for Women in the Weight Room?

By Andrew Jagim, PhD, CISSN, CSCS

Some of the biggest misconceptions, apprehensions and myths seem to surround the idea of women participating in strength training. A lot of my female clients initially seem to have a lot of confusion about when I tell them they need to focus more on strength training.  A common phrase seems to be "I don't want to get big and bulky...," or "I don't know what I'm doing in the weight room..' however once educated on the topic they come to realize that if anything strength training is a more efficient training style to help them achieve their fitness goals.  Unfortunately even though the knowledge and understanding may sometimes be there a lot of women still seem to have some apprehensions about picking up the weights with the rest of the guys and gettin after it.  

I'll be the first to admit that there is sometimes a lot of merit to these apprehensions as a lot of gym environments may not be the most welcoming to females.  Luckily this trend seems to be changing for the better but many a times females are either scrutinized for attempting to lift weights or are treated like a piece of eye candy when they do lift and therefore I can't blame them for lacking confidence or feeling self-conscious.

Luckily the ladies at Girls Gone Strong are on a mission to lead this movement and set the record straight that females have every right to not only be in the weight room but be treated as equals.  The founder Molly Galbreath is no stranger to the weight room herself.  She has an advanced training background and could certainly hold her own, if not put a few guys to shame, in many a gym environments.  According to the website, the mission of Girls Gone Strong is:

"Our mission is to educate and inspire women of all ages to maximize the strength of their body, mind, and character. This site is the culmination of decades of real-world knowledge and features training and nutrition information, workouts, recipes, advice, motivation, and more."

It's great to see companies like this take the initiative and help build the confidence levels of females out there and prove to them that they have every right to be in the weight room as anyone else. And this means starting early. Girls should be encouraged to be just as active as the boys and be allowed to participate in the same activities growing up. As they grow older they should continually be encouraged to stay active and use fitness as a tool for building confidence in order to develope a healthy relationship with their body image and lifestyle habits, particularly with food. Otherwise if they are held to impossible standards they may take a turn towards self-doubt and may not feel comfortable exercising in a public setting.

During a recent podcast interview with Onnit Academy, the founder of Girls Gone Strong joined with Fitness Journalist Jen Sinkler, mention that one of their goals or missions in life is to instill the idea that "Fitness is something to want to do, not have to do," into the minds of females.  I think this statement is so important, especially for females as often times it seems as though females use exercise as a punishment for indulging in a sweet craving or are trying to "work off" their lunch that they shouldn't have eaten. Over time this can lead to an unhealthy relationship with exercise AND food. They go one to mention that instead the focus should be on exercising and working out because you enjoy it, it makes you feel better about yourself and is good for the mind & body. Molly and Jen say to focus on the best body you can achieve for yourself and not just what others think about you. In addition, food and nutrition should then we used as a tool to facilitate recovery from workouts, improve health and work in conjunction with training goals.  Check out the rest of the podcast to learn more about what these great workmen are up to and how they are changing the fitness world.

Podcast With Onnit Academy

Moral of the story: Watch out weight rooms, women are on their way and they have every right to be there.

No comments: